The development of downtown Fentons old “TOPS” lot

Dylan Dockins, Writer

The Riverview business complex, funded by Chasse Ballroom Studio owner Michael LaJoice, was set to be built in downtown Fenton in 2016. However, construction ceased when LaJoice confessed to embezzling $18 million. The fate of the lot is now being debated by the community.

“Mr. LaJoice had a monstrous vision for what the Riverfront property could be,”  Real Estate Broker Kenneth Brant said. “Unfortunately, those funds were not his to use, so that vision came to a halt quickly.”

The empty lot on Caroline Street now is owned by a private entity, Peregrine Ventures Properties 2, LLC. The registered agent for that entity is Ridgeway White (of the Mott family). The property was sold Oct. 24 2017 for $1.05 million.

“The Adelaide development is a major part of downtown’s future,” Brant said. “The city hopes that the owner, Ridgeway White, moves toward a quicker development for the good of all, but at this time it seems that what that site might look like is on a ‘short term’ hold.”

No proposals or ideas have been brought to the Fenton City Council. At this point the use of the lot is undecided.

“We already have a ton of food places downtown,” senior Grant Quine said. “It should be created as a rec center with basketball or sports related stuff, because downtown is nothing but food or art/designs and apartments. Downtown needs something other than food stops.”

Downtown Fenton has been getting a steady stream of new businesses and  developments. Along with the increasing number of businesses, the community has a growing population.

“I think what they are trying to do is increase pedestrian traffic,” Forensics teacher Matthew Sullivan said. “Whatever they put there has to draw people. It’s got to bring in money, so to me it seems they’re going to put more shops and probably more condos up top. Basically they want to take downtown and double it.”

Despite flourishing ideas, there is no concrete plan for 225 W. Caroline St.