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Development chances await local investors

June 13, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - For those looking to venture into business in Alpena, it is important that suitable property, facilities and infrastructure options are available for the interested investor. Currently it appears the Alpena area has a surplus of space available to meet the needs of most types of potential development projects.

Target Alpena Director Jim Klarich said Target has land available, and there is space that could be acquired that is owned by the City of Alpena and Alpena County. He said smaller parcels of property are more easily available, but there are large sections of land for sale that could meet the needs of larger projects.

"The property available on Commerce Drive are typically one acre, and there are numerous lots available. Those are best suited for smaller-type shops and those types of things," Klarich said. "The city also has property in and north of town, and the county has land by the airport. It really boils down to what a company's needs are. If they wanted to come in with a large scale manufacturing project, we would have to search and see where we could possibly put it."

Greg Sundin, Alpena interim manager, and planning and development director, said the city has a variety of options it can offer potential developers. He said some of the land needs infrastructure such as water and sewer installed, but that can be done.

"There are certainly a variety of options downtown for smaller retail businesses, and there is also the shopping center where the old Ripley Street Station was. Those locations could be used for retail," Sundin said. "If the projects are larger, then you can look at the property on US-23 North in the Industrial Park, and there are also private landowners in certain areas, and just because it is private doesn't mean it is not available. There is no doubt we are limited because we are a landlocked community, which is primarily developed, there are limits on what we have."

Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jackie Krawczak said there are still options downtown, but there are many potential opportunities south of town, where there are many buildings for sale and little strip malls with open space.

"Downtown isn't filled, but it is a lot more occupied than five years ago, so we refer them to the Downtown Development Authority or we have a pretty good idea about the property, so we will refer them directly to the property owner and stay involved at least to the point to we know contact was made," Krawczak said. "There is a lot of vacant property on (US-23 South), and some of it has been vacant for quite some time, so there are probably some very good deals to be had out that way and opportunity for the right development."

Sundin said there also is property owned by Alpena Community College, which could be developed if the project fits what the college master plan features. He said there are several spots on the waterfront that could be developed.

"There is the old Alpena Power Company on the river, which is really a block of different buildings and then there is also the Armory. These are prime waterfront properties for the right developer with the right idea," Sundin said. "It is important to note that redevelopment is as important as development and finding new uses for properties than what it was used for previously."

Sundin said as of now, Alpena has land and buildings that should be able to entice business, and it is just a matter of people being creative and finding a niche to have these ideas become a reality.

"It isn't the case where we don't have any room to do anything," he said. "It's just sometimes we have to think outside of the box and package things together to get it done. Alpena still has a lot to offer."

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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