BELDING— A new business is coming to town.
A Virginia-based furniture company has expressed interest in purchasing the Belding Basket Factory at 131 E. High St., a building that currently stands vacant.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Belding City Council, the council did the first reading of a resolution to rezone the area of the city where the Basket Factory building is located. The council will likely vote on the resolution at the next regular meeting Jan. 17.
City Manager Bruce Brown told the council that the prospective buyers would initially set up business in the steel building behind the Basket Factory.
“They’re committed to restoring the Basket Factory over the next couple of years,” he said. “It has a roof that needs to be repaired and they’re preparing to do that. They are also going to work on the HVAC and we’re going to work with them to fill the upper levels of the Basket Factory with a use that’s compatible.”
Brown said the interested parties are two brothers who run a furniture building business in Virginia, but one of them wants to split off and move north. Formerly from Greenville and with family ties to Belding, the man decided to look into moving back home.
“He is excited about coming to our city,” Brown said.
According to Brown, rezoning from a general business district to an industrial district in the area of 131 E. High St. has already been approved by the Planning Commission. The resolution requires one more reading before the City Council can vote on it and, if approved, the petitioners can occupy the building as soon as a week after the vote.
“I think it’s something that we need to have,” said Councilman Mike Scheid. “If they’re willing to go in and do the work to get the building in shape. … That building has been nothing but storage. It would be nice to get something in there and get something in town again. Even if they only employ a few people, that would still be good.”
Brown said the petitioners would be interested in going through the process to “designate that as a historic structure.”
“I think it’s a win-win for our city. We get a building back in operation and taxes beginning to flow to the city and a new business,” he said. “I don’t see how we could lose.”
According to Brown, the business would employ four to six people to get started and grow as they expand their business.
“They sell primarily on the internet and they sell all over the world,” he said. “They want to do a retail store in that building at some point so I think we’ll see some additional employees as time goes on.”
Councilman Brad Miller said he thinks that the “Planning Commission was really excited about approving this.”
“There’s a lot of real positives associated with it,” he said.