Benton Harbor, Michigan-More than 200 guests celebrated at the Cornerstone Alliance on Main Street Renovation Reveal Party last night at its new headquarters, 80 W. Main Street, in downtown Benton Harbor. Guests were treated to local food truck cuisine including Lark's Bar-B-Que, Sammy Arepas and Doggie Bag, as well as 98.3 The Coast broadcasting live from the event. All three food trucks are past clients of the Women's Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance.
Cornerstone Alliance unveiled the results of the restoration project of the century-old building, and President Rob Cleveland thanked businesses and individuals who had the vision to make downtown Benton Harbor a vibrant and diverse hub of activity. "This new office provides a collaborative, inviting and creative space that will serve as the epicenter for economic development in Berrien County for generations to come,” said Cleveland. “Cornerstone Alliance has assisted a dozen companies that have invested more than $50 million in the community in 2017. Like those companies we serve, Cornerstone Alliance sees the benefit of growing in Berrien County. Our new location in Benton Harbor will be a catalyst for development throughout Michigan’s Great Southwest.”
During last night's event, Cornerstone Alliance revealed 5,700 square feet of premiere office space that, before construction, were two separate businesses, divided by a common wall. There are 12 individual offices; a conference room; a resource center for entrepreneurs on the main floor, and a second conference room on the building's mezzanine-level.
The renovation project was led by Benton Harbor-based Pearson Construction and a longtime Cornerstone Alliance investor. An essential component of the renovation project was to honor and preserve the 100-year history of the building. Some of the original beams were salvaged and re-purposed; exposed brick walls remain intact, and were part of the overall architectural design.
“We appreciate and welcome the challenges of projects like the Cornerstone Alliance adaptive reuse at 80 West Main,” said Burt Pearson, President, Pearson Construction. “Our design-build team of Sean Ebbert and Arunas Rumsa were tasked with creating a modern office environment that would retain as much of the historical aesthetic of the building as possible. We receive the most satisfaction from projects where we recycle an old building and give it new life. It takes a special vision of an owner to see this, and Cornerstone Alliance clearly saw the possibilities.”
In March of this year, Cornerstone Alliance sold the building at 38 W. Wall Street, its location for more than 20 years, to Mosaic CCDA. In April, the Cornerstone Alliance team moved to its temporary offices at 53 W. Wall Street during the renovation.
Cornerstone Alliance's new headquarters will continue to offer services in Economic Development, Small Business Services and the Women's Business Center, SCORE of Southwest Michigan and the Renaissance Development Fund.
"What started nearly 30 years ago on Main Street at the Vincent Building in Benton Harbor continues today, just one block away at 80 W. Main Street," said Greg Vaughn, Chief Operating Officer and VP, Business Development for Cornerstone Alliance. "This move shows our long-standing commitment to development in the City of Benton Harbor and our mission to serve all of Berrien County."
"There were so many people who played roles in renovating Berrien County’s new economic development home. Cornerstone Alliance is grateful to the Benton Harbor Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the Building Department and Mayor Muhammad for their support of this project. We had tremendous help from area service providers and contractors including: Pearson Construction, Doubleday Office Products, City Plumbing and Heating, Linear Electric, Inc. and others who provided excellent work and craftsmanship in this transformational project," added Cleveland.