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Michigan Town Putting Up Sheds … for Business


The city of Muskegon, Michigan, is located along the shores of Lake Michigan, and it’s always looking for ways to make the best use of its shoreline.

In 2016, the city had an idea to put small shops along the beach. After some research, it was determined that sheds would be the best option.

“When we delved into it deeper, it was obvious the permitting processing was going to take longer and we would not be able to have sheds at the beach this summer,” says City Clerk Ann Meisch. “By then, we loved the idea of sheds and wanted to see it happen.”

So, the city decided to try putting up sheds for small, seasonal businesses in downtown Muskegon. The structures are being put up this spring and several businesses are already scheduled to move in once the sheds are complete.

The project is called Western Market Chalets.

“Downtown Muskegon is experiencing wonderful growth. We have pubs, eateries, and several housing units being built. What we are lacking though, is retail,” Meisch says. “We know retail is a major component of a downtown. We know it will come eventually, but we don’t want to wait. So, we thought, why not create it ourselves.”

Twelve businesses will be renting the sheds, which range from 90 to 150 square feet. The businesses will offer goods ranging from apparel and jewelry to food and handmade crafts.

Meisch says the city’s builder designed the sheds and is erecting them. She says sheds were selected as the structures because they are relatively affordable and can also be moved.

“Our current plan is to place them on vacant lots downtown. When that lot sells, we can easily move them to a different location,” Meisch says. “By offering such an affordable outlet, we’ve opened the door to many entrepreneurs who have a great idea or possibly have a small business, but cannot currently afford to pay the rent on a downtown structure.”

The sheds will be somewhat finished. The outside will have siding and a shingled roof to keep out the elements. Inside will be electricity and a ceiling fan with a light, as well as a light on the front porch of the business.

Meisch says the plan is to finish the inside of the sheds with bead board and possibly a wall with slats. Tenants will be able to make the inside structure work for them.

Twelve finished sheds will be hosting small retail shops in downtown Muskegon this summer.

The time from approval of the plan to build was fairly quick. Meisch says the decision to build sheds downtown was made around December 2016. Plans were drawn up, and the builder started construction in January at an off-site location.

The shed shells were delivered to the vacant lot site at the end of March, and that’s when excitement about the project began to build.

“The excitement has been incredible,” Meisch says. “The sheds were moved to the site, and that got everyone’s attention. I received emails telling me the downtown was buzzing with people driving by or walking by the sheds to check them out.”

Once the sheds are complete and the businesses up and running, then the city will find out how well they work.

“Our hope is to see citizens stay downtown before and after they enjoy the pubs and eateries, and shop locally,” Meisch says. “The more shops that are added downtown, the more people will visit. This is a win-win for all Downtown Muskegon businesses and our residents.”


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