Story written by Noe Hernandez, Livingston Press & Argus
A commercial building in downtown Howell with the perfect name for anyone looking to set up shop in the heart of town is full of businesses for the first time in three years.
The Heart of Howell building, under new ownership and a $2 million renovation project for the past three years, inked the last of eight tenants this month.
"It started out as a labor of love, and to see it come to fruition after three years is an amazing feeling," project manager Courtney Tarara said Monday. "It is exactly what we set out for, which was bringing a destination location to downtown Howell."
Tarara's father, Joe Parker, purchased the Heart of Howell for $600,000 in 2012 and quickly set out to improve on his investment.
Parker first worked with a structural engineer to connect the three buildings that make up the Heart of Howell, then replaced all electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, added an elevator to make all four floors handicap accessible, and knocked down and rebuilt two basement walls.
He also added a grass courtyard in back, which 2FOG's Pub, one of the tenants, will use to serve more customers when it's not freezing outside. Parker also hired a local artist to paint a farm scene mural to keep the building's connection to Howell.
"I like that it got to where we wanted to go," Parker said. "It's got a little L.A., Chicago, New York feel.
"We did it without losing the feeling for the original buildings," he added.
Silverstone Jewelry, EnCore 118 and a yet-to-be revealed restaurant, which Tarara only would say will offer the public a variety of ethnic cuisine, have front door entrances.
Customers walk around to the back of the building to access 2FOG's Pub in the basement, and hop on the new elevator to get to SoulShine Yoga; The Loft, an eco-friendly salon; and C&B Machinery on the second floor.
Your Peace of Mind, a property management company, operates on the third floor.