Artisan Market Ribbon Cutting

By Jared Leatzow/Beacon Reporter

From left to right: City of Whitehall mayor Debra Hillebrand, Montague city council member Susan Newhof, Montague clerk Michelle Landis, realtor Charlie Brown, owner of Wheel Fun Scooters and Apparel Joe Reavey, Dean Weaver, Montague city manager Jeff Auch, Shelby State Bank manager Sharon Blaknkenship, Montague city council member Tim Todd, and executive director for the White Lake Chamber of Commerce Amy VanLoon.

MONTAGUE – It has been in the works for over a year, but the Artisan Market located in downtown Montague has finally opened.

The official ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the market took place on Saturday, Oct. 12, the same day as the city’s annual Pumpkinfest.

Located across the street from the Farmer’s Market on Church Street, the Artisan Market is composed of several miniature buildings that act as store fronts for small businesses to sell their goods and services.

The project developer is Dean Weaver from Rochester, who worked in partnership with Greenridge Realty and the City of Montague to get the Artisan Market constructed.

In 2018 Weaver said, “My family and I started to vacation here eight to 10-years-ago and I stumbled on Montague by chance. I was responsible for making summer vacation plans, waited too long, and found on HomeAway, a rental on Lake Michigan called the Lost Valley. That’s what started our affiliation with Montague.”

Realtor Charlie Brown said part of the delay had to do with scheduling conflicts with contractors and other entities involved with the project.

Ideally, the Artisan Market would have opened in the summer during the tourist season. However, since it took longer than expected to open, leases are being re-worked with store owners to accommodate for the delay in its opening.

“There is still a lot of interest in the project. What we’ve done is restructure the leases to get everyone in place for next season,” said Auch.

Right now only six leases have been signed out of a possible 17. Brown said most people who have shown interest wish to do a 12-month lease.

“It is a little surprising to everyone. We have a fair number of people that are interested in being here 12 months a year. We did not expect that,” said Brown.

However, now with the Artisan Market now being open, the two expect more people to begin signing leases for one of the buildings.

This is only phase one for the Artisan Market. The next phase is expected to begin next spring and will include adding bike trail access to it. This will be done in partnership with Shelby State Bank, which owns property next to the market.

The Artisan Market is also expected to expand the number of available buildings in the area. Eventually, there could be as many as 40 buildings available for leasing.

Last year Weaver said he had plans to build a residential and commercial venture in the downtown area. The project at the time was quoted at $8 million, and the working name for the project is the Lakeside City Center.

Auch confirmed that the project is still expected to take place, with meetings to discuss engineering and a construction schedule set to begin later this Fall.