The Chamber of Commerce had a productive fourth quarter, and one of our top priorities was working with a consultant on a large, market-rate apartment project.

The developer is interested in constructing a 288-unit, two-phase apartment project, utilizing the old Kennedy school site on Parkdale Avenue (pictured above). This would address a blighted, brownfield site on our commercial corridor, and turn it into much-needed housing. We repeatedly hear from all employers, large and small, that recruiting new employees is made extremely difficult by the lack of housing options. This project would tackle some of that housing need and create the conditions for more economic growth.

As with many projects, building consensus and understanding with decision-makers for the tools of economic development is an important step. The use of state-authorized tax abatement programs like the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act and the Commercial Redevelopment Act are tools that many developers expect to see in a growing community. In the case of the housing project, the Chamber and business community are supporting the first use of this tool in a governmental unit. We provided opportunities for a sign-on letter, organized public comment, and engaged decision-makers on the use of the abatement program. While there are next steps to follow, it is anticipated that the developer will green-light the project once the final approvals are put into place.  

Renderings of the former River St. Station, soon to become the Emerald Cove Hotel and the Mill Restaurant in Downtown Manistee.

Potential features include outdoor decks to enjoy the river view, and access to the Manistee Riverwalk.

2023 should be an exciting time as some of these priority projects either open, as with the case of the Hampton Inn, or begin construction like the Emerald Cove Hotel and the Mill Restaurant (renderings pictured above) downtown.

Additionally, we provided assistance with new restaurants and other lodging options, business retention visits, and working with entrepreneurs and other developers. Overall, the majority of our work assisting entrepreneurs is with start-ups or expansions and attracting more developer investment for blighted or underutilized sites.

Thank you for your continued support of the program, and we look forward to more opportunities to discuss new developments.


Hampton Inn and Suites Project

  • Worked with the developer on construction plan inquiry.
  • Construction and weatherization progress is on schedule for a May/June opening.

Manistee Place Apartments

  • Chamber worked with developers to advocate for this 288 market-rate apartment project, organizing a sign-on letter of 11 businesses representing 1,480 county jobs.
  • Published a media release in support of a Commercial Rehabilitation Act request to the Manistee Township Planning Commission (Dec. 7) and the Township Trustees (Dec. 22).
  • Site plans and zoning changes were approved. A hearing on the abatement will be held in the 1st Quarter of 2023.


Emerald Cove Hotel & the Mill Restaurant

  • Application for incentive was submitted to the City, which initiated the hearing process on December 20.  
  • Streamlined decision-making and progressing on schedule.

Cloverleaf LLC/Northern Hotel

  • Generating cost estimates and working on incentive application.
  • Set up a meeting with Manistee County Community Foundation to explore more grant opportunities.
  • This project may house one or more commercial tenants, and possibly 13-15 long-term rental units.


Business Retention & Expansion Visits

  • The Chamber worked with Portage Point Rentals, LLC to secure a restaurant location and submit for a Match on Main grant, which was not awarded by the MEDC. Working towards a late spring opening.
  • Expansion opportunities identified with Manistee Tire, Chamber continues to assist with apprenticeship and zoning questions.

Leadership & Professional Development  

  • Marc Miller, Director of ED attended a two-day Housing Summit and served as a panelist in a discussion regarding housing innovations.
Lead Business Retention, Attraction, and Growth
Talent and Workforce Development
Growing Entrepreneurs and Necessary Career Skills
Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Placemaking and Housing Needs
Building a Collaborative Environment and Effective Communications

Stacie Bytwork, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce

Jeff Dontz, Manistee County

Bill Gambill, City of Manistee

Little River Holdings, LLC

Sammie Lukaskiewicz, Manistee County Visitors Bureau

Dennis McCarthy, Blarney Castle Oil & Propane

Jim Reithel, Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties

Kelly Tomaszewski, Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital

Scott Ward, West Shore Community College


West Shore Community College

Manistee Industrial Development Corporation

Manistee County

City of Manistee

Manistee Downtown Development Authority

Blarney Castle Oil & Propane

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital

Little River Holdings, LLC

Pioneer Construction

Manistee County Visitors Bureau

Filer Credit Union

Consumers Energy

Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties

Morton Salt

West Shore Bank

Iron Fish Distillery