Restaurant concept at former Montage needs spaces

Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

JML Real Estate, a company owned by Jim and Michelle Liggett of Allegan Event, are proposing to purchase the six parking spaces abutting the former Montage Market at 137 Brady St. The building was recently purchased by JML.

A public hearing for the purchase has been set for Monday, Oct. 22, during the regular council meeting.

A conceptual drawing for the building and parking spaces was presented during the Allegan City Council’s pre-session meeting on Monday, Sept. 24. The plans depict a sports bar and grill “Fired Up” and the use of the parking area side lot for outdoor seating and a wraparound deck.

The spaces are on a downhill slope next to the building. The sidewalk and driveway that also slopes down to the riverfront next to Mahan Park would remain public.

When asked about a timeframe, JML project manager Scott Muller said the project could take anywhere between one to five years, depending on the processes.

“It could be one to two years if we get approvals from the city, which would get the ball rolling faster,” he said.

Council member Nancy Ingalsbee asked that the spaces remain public until any construction occurs if approved.

Council members also approved a lease for the city to make payments to the building authority for the new city hall, improvements to the Regent Theatre and Griswold Auditorium and new riverfront storage and public restrooms.

A proposal is being made for JML Real Estate with buildings at 217 and 213 Hubbard streets to become a leasehold interest for the site of new restroom facilities, a storage area and greenroom. The public restrooms would be located on city property behind the buildings along the riverfront. Leased space would be the storage area and greenroom on the lower level of the buildings, which also have the potential for concessions.

The restrooms/storage/ greenroom project will be paid for through building authority bonds from First Internet Bank and total $2 million to include new city hall renovations and Regent and Griswold building renovations.

City manager Joel Dye and council member Delora Andrus were absent from the meeting. Finance director Tracy Stull said a formal agreement with JML Real Estate has many moving parts and is still being conceptualized.

JML has also purchased 145 Brady Street for Sky Trail offices and 245 Hubbard Street—buildings that also border the riverfront.

Jim Liggett who was present at the meeting said he’s not sure what he’s going to do with all the buildings he’s purchased along the riverfront yet and plans keep changing.

“I want to make Allegan a wonderful place to sit outside along the riverfront and that’s what people want too,” he said. “We want to hit a homerun with the first building (137 Brady Street) before moving on to the next and we’re very excited about it.”

As for the public restrooms being located behind his buildings, he said the current public restrooms on Brady Street at the Welcome Center are a long way for children at the new splash pad to walk to.

“It’ll be a clean place to go and change,” he said of the new restrooms. 

Council member Charles Tripp said there were a lot of exciting things happening downtown with several buildings being gutted for regrowth, the splashpad and giant fireplace under construction and the library expansion project.

Mayor pro-tem Rachel McKenzie said Schaendorf’s brewery, restaurant and meat market were also on the verge of opening in the former Red Tail restaurant and Little Shop of Hoarders building on Water Street.

In other business, finance director Stull announced a tentative contract had been reached in negotiations with the Service Employees International Union.  The contract involves bringing wastewater treatment plant employees up to the same wages as the DPW. Previously, WWTP employees were non-union. Other adjustments include realigning titles by doing away with group leader and senior group leader and the addition of an assistant DPW director. Increases ranged from 4.7 percent and lower, with the group leader positions taking a decrease.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at or at (269) 673-5534.



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