The owners of MIGardener hope the renovations at Oakland Ave. 1426 in St. Clair in time to move into and open the new location in late May or early June.
Currently, the garden shop – originally a launch pad for owners Luke and Sindy Marion and their growing online business – is still in downtown Port Huron, where it has been for four years.
However, since purchasing the St. Clair property last year, Luke Marion said, they’ve made a slight change in plans to add a small greenhouse to the new site.
At least part of the reason, he said, came after he encountered state environmental roadblocks with the opening of a 20,000-square-foot year-round greenhouse on the outskirts of Kimball Township.
“We kind of had to do an eighties,” Marion said this week. “We submitted it because right now there really isn’t a good way for the (project) to come to fruition. The greenhouse will definitely allow us to do some of the things we would like to do there on a smaller scale – a much smaller scale. But it will also allow us to expand into other offerings that we don’t currently offer.”
With the new store, which was most recently Anglers Outfitters, Marion said the store will continue to offer seeds and gardening supplies, although they could “focus solely on vegetable crops” themselves with a small greenhouse, for those not wanting to start with seed.
“It’s a very unmet need,” he said, adding he hopes it’s a niche they can fill without stepping on the toes of other nearby garden centers that are more focused on flowering plants.
“And then we also look at things like garden consultations now that we really have the infrastructure,” Marion said. “Those are two things we want to branch into.”
Last week, Marion notified St. Clair’s planning commissioners that the greenhouse will be approximately 1,000 square feet and will be built in a non-permanent hoop house structure on the north side of 1426 Oakland.
“The greenhouse probably won’t be operational until the fall of this year simply because we don’t expect it to be ready and finished by June,” he said. “We will open in phases.”
The Commission approved a conditional conversion of the property from the surrounding residential area to a commercial area. The city council approved it on Monday.
What remodeling steps are pending at the new location?
Site plans for the new location still require a final approval from the planning commission. Marion said he is also speaking to neighbors about features to include or remove on the outside of the property, including landscaping or the type of trees or the use of barriers.
MIGardener has already begun compiling a long list of completed renovations at the St. Clair site, and last week Marion said it was an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars that put her “hopes and dreams into this building.”
This includes a new heating and cooling unit on the roof. They also support walls, improve electrical systems and much more.
On Tuesday, Marion walked around the site pointing out any needed improvements that were left – and what part of their operations each area will become.
The facade itself is waiting for a fresh coat of paint and the metal MIGardener lettering is still on the Port Huron shop front. There is a small retail area at the entrance that they will maintain for customer visits – something Marion says is important for those who like to shop in person.
Next came offices and a large staff area where online orders are fulfilled and a customer service team with some space for storage and cataloging. And nearby they will put up goods.
On the other side of the building they are still in the process of finishing floors and adding some false ceilings.
“One of the things we discovered is kind of interesting,” Marion said. “When you’re dealing with a building that’s been remodeled three or four times, there are certain parts that have been kept and others that have been added. So it’s like our job is to bring the whole building together.”
Pointing to an on-site wall, the business owner added that he also planned to bring in an artist to complete a mural.
Near the middle of the building is an old mineral water pump that they want to keep intact.
“Once we move in, we’re going to renovate and remodel all of this,” Marion said. “Because eventually I want to find a use for the water.”
Some planning commissioners also expressed concern last week about the condition of the car park, which is currently partially paved and gravel.
Marion said on Tuesday the opening of the new MIGardener location is not expected to be affected and he hopes to address the lot by the end of the year.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.