Development to bring new life to landmark store

Southwest Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) – A stretch of downtown South Haven is getting a major overhaul with millions of dollars in investments.

The project includes the partial demolition of the old Hale’s Department Store, which first opened in 1855 and closed in 2009.

Part of the old Hale’s in South Haven is torn down. (Jan. 16, 2020)

Jim Ollgaard, a board member with the Historical Association of South Haven, says the store quickly became a landmark.

“It had everything. It had a bakery. It had a pharmacy. It had clothing,” Ollgaard said. “It was really the backbone of the economy in downtown South Haven right up through the 50s and into the 60s.”

Downtown Development Director Deb Davidson says the most recognizable part of the building will remain standing. The three-story structure will be renovated and will include year-round apartments and retail space.

“It’s all coming together and it’s going to be great for local businesses and just bringing people downtown,” Davidson said.

The city is also working on a $3.4 million project to repave the street and sidewalks. Workers have been upgrading sewer and water lines.

“We’ll have Wi-Fi, streetscape, and we’ll have a live wall element that will be on the corner of Phoenix and Center Street,” Davidson said.

Wayne Balser, the owner of Johnny’s Lakeshore Jewelry, hopes the development brings more people to town.

“If there’s full storefronts. If they’re open, that’s an inviting signal for folks to visit our community year-round,” Balser said.

Part of the old Hale’s in South Haven is torn down. (Jan. 16, 2020)

Ollgaard hopes whatever the final design will look like it will honor the legacy of the Hale’s store.

“I hope they put something up that’s in keeping with the rest of the town,” Ollgaard said.

The city has not yet received design plans for the building.

According to Davidson, the road project is scheduled to be finished before the end of May.

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