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      New student housing to bring fresh business downtown

      Baker College and Cadillac business owners are investing in the city's downtown area in hopes of getting more young people to live there.

      7&4 News has learned that in early April, Baker College Cadillac Campus signed a purchase agreement for the Oâ??Neill building or the old potato factory on West Harris Street in downtown Cadillac.

      The plan is to invest $2.5 million dollars to transform the building into college housing for 30 students.

      Baker College Cadillac Campus President Kelly Smith says it is all part of the revitalization the downtown area and she says that more young people living there could bring a big boost to the local economy. Smith explains, "We have lots of jobs in Cadillac that we don't have the skilled workforce for so we need to get people back here, we need to get them to be apart of our manufacturing base, our educational base, which are really important for our area...â??

      The building is in a strategic spot located only one block from the main downtown stretch. Smith says, "It will be right city officials are looking at place-making, close to the park, the rotary pavilion and all the activity there, close to the lake. I think that when the students get here, they're going to want certain businesses and eating establishments and I think that will bring even more businesses to our downtown area."

      The push for a younger crowd downtown doesn't end there. Back in December of 2012 the old Northwood Hotel was transformed into the Escape Bar & Grill. The owners of the Escape Bar & Grill also upgraded the apartments above the business.

      Also, right now the owner of the Cadillac Family Pharmacy is working with the city in hopes of adding six apartments unites above the store front.

      Baker College officials have a board meeting in June where they're expected to get the final go-ahead on the housing project. The hope is to have it completed by the fall of 2014.