Corunna vets facility set to advance

Fiddler’s Green, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for veterans, closed on the sale of the old Pleasant View property Friday. Pictured, from left, are selling agent Mark Hetfield of Lucy Ham Group Inc., Corunna Mayor Chuck Kerridge, Corunna Public Works Supervisor Tim Crawford, Fiddler’s Green Director Eric Motz and Corunna City Manager Joe Sawyer.

CORUNNA — The vacant former Pleasant View site, 729 S. Norton St., is now officially off the market; representatives from Fiddler’s Green closed on the property Friday, according to listing manager Laura Ikerd of Lucy Ham Group.

The announcement comes about seven weeks after the city entered into a $500,000 purchase agreement with Fiddler’s Green — a nonprofit organization that provides housing for veterans — for the sale of the former medical care facility.

The organization intends to convert the existing 63,177-square-foot facility into a veterans housing community.

“Nobody is more excited than me,” Eric Motz, director of operations at Fiddler’s Green said Tuesday via phone. “It’s the location of the area that’s key. I’m able to grab vets from the Flint, northern Detroit, Lansing and Saginaw areas. That’s what I’m really excited about.”

The original section of the medical care facility on Norton Street opened in 1952. The current 136-bed facility served as Shiawassee County’s medical care center until a 103,000-square-foot, $25-million structure opened in January 2018 in Caledonia Township.

The transition left the vacant facility in the hands of the city because of deed restrictions on the original property. Because of the nearly 6-acre property’s multi-family zoning designation, city officials expressed concerns about being able to attract a potential buyer that could conform to the zoning, Corunna City Manager Joe Sawyer said.

Fiddler’s Green currently owns and operates a short-term, long-term and transitional housing facility for veterans in Bad Axe.

Motz, a veteran himself, said the Corunna facility will open in a series of phases, with an initial opening date likely in March or April.

“I’ve got it broken down in phases so we can open the doors quicker,” Motz said. “The next couple of months is going to be getting rid of the whole nursing home feel to it, designing it to where it’s more warm, more welcoming. It’s going to be more of an apartment setting for these guys.”

Work under phase one will include adding showers, a laundromat, carpet and a variety of “personal touches” to the facility, according to Motz.

“I’m looking at approximately two months for phase one to be open,” Motz said, “that way we can open the doors and get 30 veterans in house right then and there…Phase two will be another 30 beds, touching up the dining area and adding some more stuff.”

In an effort to bring on staff that will be needed for the initial opening, Fiddler’s Green will host a job fair at GST Michigan Works!, 1975 W. M-21, at 11 a.m. Feb. 11.

An event Thursday is from 2 to 3 p.m. — but only for veterans or veterans families.

Fiddler’s Green is planning to hire medical assistants, community outreach coordinators, cooks, maintenance workers and administrators, among other positions, according to Motz, and, if at all possible, he’d like to hire veterans to fill those slots.

For Motz, who served 15 years in the Navy, it’s about ensuring no veteran is left behind.

“I lost a lot of my boys to drugs, alcohol, not being able to get their benefits or obtaining them, and I was always sitting there hoping to God somebody was on the outside catching these guys and nobody was,” Motz said. “When I was given this opportunity, as a veteran civilian, it’s my watch now, and the hell if any of them are going to slip through the cracks on my watch. I’m just not going to let it happen.”

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