By DAVID GREEN
A developer from Mason, Mich., is hoping to renovate the former Knoblauch Fine Foods building on Morenci’s Main Street. The project would include a Subway sandwich shop, other retail space and four studio apartments.
Ketan Patel is seeking funds through the state Façade Grant Program to refurbish the exterior of the property at 203 and 205 W. Main St. A notice from the City of Morenci in this week’s Observer shows that Patel is seeking a $164,000 CDBG grant. He would invest more than $212,000 to renovate the building’s interior.
Patel plans to open a Subway at 203 W. Main and offer additional retail space for rent in the adjoining location.
“Currently I am planning to have four studio type apartments upstairs,” he said, “but that will be phase two renovation.”
The building was constructed in 1882 for the Bank of Morenci and has had a variety of uses in the past 30 years since the grocery closed.
The building needs extensive repair work, Patel said, and he welcomes the possibility of the façade grant to help with the project. Since the funding is funneled to the state from federal sources, Patel would be required to maintain the historical appearance of the building.
The building is still owned by Mark Knoblauch and Patel would not take possession until the grant process is complete.
Patel said he is very fond of the building, but if he fails to obtain the façade grant, he will reëvaluate the project and perhaps obtain a Subway franchise in another Morenci building.
Patel, a self-employed engineer, has a Subway franchise in Lansing and Hudson, plus a pizza franchise in East Lansing. He enjoys small town businesses because transactions go beyond good food and good service. People are more likely to stop in and talk. It’s more like serving family, he said.
The public has until Dec. 9 to offer comments on the project before the City applies for the release of funds.