Dexter may soon have a new set of public restrooms to serve downtown visitors.  At its May 28th meeting, the City Council discussed its options for using the city-owned property located at 8050 Main Street and public restrooms were at the top of the list. 

According to a memo from City Manager and Clerk Justin Breyer, the Council began discussing the property, more widely known as the former Hotel Hickman BBQ, near the end of 2023. 

“Based on those conversations, staff started reaching out to contacts in the real estate and trades fields to get high-level estimates for the value of the building/property and the potential costs associated with renovating 8050 Main St. for public restrooms and/or making it white box ready for lease,” read the memo. 

“I wanted to bring back the information that we have today and gauge council interest in continuing forward on that path,” said Breyer at the meeting.

The memo shows that city staff consulted local realtor Jeff Evans to determine the property’s market value and he suggested the property could sell for around $300,000.  If leased, the value is between $16 and $22 per square foot. 

Novi-based real estate development company Cunningham-Limp provided a high-level estimate for remodeling the building to accommodate public restrooms and lease space. That estimate, which is not all-inclusive, is just under $110,000.

“One of the things that I think would be nice there is having the restrooms with a ‘welcome center’, that has not only information about town, but potentially display cases that the historical society can put some things in there,” said Councilmember Sanam Aldag, during the discussion.

She continued, “It seems to be a great opportunity, since it’s a historic building in our downtown to take multiple advantages of it, of how we want to represent our city and have multiple things that we can do.”

“I’ll start by saying what I don’t want to see because that’s easier to identify,” said Councilmember Jamie Griffin, “I don’t want to see us continuing to lease it. I just don’t think that’s what we should be spending our energy on.” 

Griffin continued, “I guess I’m wondering about the time-sensitivity of this, in light of where we are financially on other projects. How much of a priority this is, what does it cost the city if this sits vacant for a year?”

“If you wanted to put it off I think it can be put off,” responded Breyer, “but it seemed like something folks were interested in.”

Councilmember Zach Michels had concerns about the actual cost of remodeling being higher than the estimate. 

“This building we had some problems, where the foundation went down six inches or something. It didn’t go to the frost line. I would caution that [the cost] is going to be higher because a lot of the structure is really close to the ground. And that’s not good with wood. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there are significant structural items that we need to brace ourselves for as we go on this,” he said.

Breyer closed the discussion by summarizing the next steps.  “The purpose of the discussion tonight was to get a general idea of what what council was thinking. My next steps will be to reach out to some vendors and get some idea of what what the design piece of it would cost…and come back [to city council] with some numbers,” he said.

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