Appliance maker Whirlpool Corporation announced today that it has signed an agreement with the Cornerstone Alliance to lease the Kay Building in downtown Benton Harbor.
Cornerstone, a non-profit, investor-driven community and economic development organization, and Whirlpool had been in negotiations to lease the 25,000-sq-ft building since late last year. The company plans to relocate about 100 area employees to the facility in the first quarter of 2004.
"The arrangement meets two important needs for Whirlpool Corporation: it provides needed additional space for our employees in the headquarters community and gives us yet another opportunity to partner with Cornerstone in the revival of Benton Harbor's downtown business district," said David R. Whitwam, Whirlpool's chairman and CEO. "Benton Harbor has steadily improved its economic viability over the last few years. And now, with the leasing of the Kay Building, an important component of the Cornerstone Alliance's ongoing Harbor Town redevelopment plans is in place."
The Harbor Town Project is a four-phase development blueprint to generate housing, townhouses, and commercial property in what used to be called the "Flats" area of Benton Harbor near the St. Joseph River. Financing for the project is coming from federal, state and local authorities, as well as private investors.
The Kay Building, located along Main Street in Benton Harbor, was home to a Sears Roebuck Department Store, beginning in the 1920s. It later became a Woolworth Department Store. The building, which has been vacant for the last 16 years, is being completely renovated by Cornerstone.
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