By Elizabeth Wehman, editor
(Courtesy Photos/Michael Paine Photography)
Built by Hugo Wesener in 1886, the Wesener building in downtown Owosso has undergone many changes. In the 1960s and 70s, it was the home of John Wesley College. State of Michigan Social Security Administration offices and the executive offices of Ann Arbor Railroad occupied the building during the 1980s. In 2007, the Wesener was the scene of a tragic fire, which destroyed the building and was the second in its history. In 2011, David and Dianne Acton purchased the property and on Saturday, April 2, the building will have a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. and an open house complete with guided tours from 1 to 3 p.m.
“The Wesener Building restoration project has been an opportunity for us to tangibly express the love that we have for this community and to thank those who have done so much to welcome us and our three children from the day we arrived in 1993,” commented the Actons. They are thankful for the many people and multiple organizations inside and outside of the community who have assisted in some way in the planning, implementing, and ongoing development of the project.
According to Albert Martenis, III, Owner Representative for the project, he and the Actons want to do more than just rent out a building. He said, “We want to market the building with a special, unique concept.” They are calling the project ‘Downtown Living Partnership.’ “It’s a developing concept we want to launch with the Wesener building’s grand opening with the intention of impacting the entire community.” That concept is the initial incentive for the marketing and use of the newly renovated building. “We want to work closely with Josh Adams and Owosso Main Street to launch this concept with local businesses in the coming weeks.”
The building will soon be the location of not only the Actons’ business, “Books and More,” but also six- two bedroom, two bathroom residences. There is also another space open for a future business. The goal of renovation was for the entire building to be historically accurate while instituting modern technology and resources to provide a new, high-efficiency living/business environment. The Wesener building will be the first ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) certified mixed-use project in the city.
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the U. S. Green Building Council. The voluntary LEED program provides third party verification that a project meets guidelines set by the council for achieving high performance and sustainability through green design, construction, operation, and maintenance. This building certification level is currently is being verified and will soon be revealed to the owners. They are hoping it reaches a ‘gold’ level certification. The certification rates the totality of the project based on nine key areas, which focus on efficiency, innovation, and materials used. This includes the paint applied throughout, the LED lighting, the quality of windows installed, the highest efficiency HVAC systems, and the insulation/sound proofing of each unit.
The Actons and Martenis are all about creating community value. Martenis said, “The building is only worth the value of the community it is set in.” The goal is to put residents in the building who will find the value of living in the town of Owosso. “We hope they shop at many of the local businesses and check out a show at the Lebowsky. We want them heading to Owosso restaurants and buying coffee at the corner coffee shop,” he adds.
The building has come a long way since 2007, and the product is innovative, futuristic, and environmentally sound. Wesener is the best of the future, but also has a glimpse of the past. Come out and see for yourself.