Two new businesses – The Spotted Cow and Foundation Realty – pumping life back into historic downtown building

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Mark Baker, owner of Foundation Realty, at the Union Block building in Tecumseh

Two familiar Lenawee County businesses owned by members of the same area family will soon be opening in space that was best-known as the Chocolate Vault.

Foundation Realty, based in Adrian and owned by Mark Baker, who is also a real estate broker, plans to open at 116 W. Chicago Blvd. in the west half of the business space, and The Spotted Cow, owned by Matt and Stacey Baker, will occupy the eastern half of the site.

Mark said Foundation Realty has been looking to expand to include a Tecumseh market presence and one of the reasons he zeroed in on that specific location was a shared vision with the building’s new owner, The Union Block 1849 LLC.

“We’re very happy to be a part of bringing that building back to life,” said Mark. “It’s been vacant for several years and it will be nice to see it revitalized.”

Foundation Realty has been in existence for 11 years and currently employs 22 agents.

“We’ll be looking to expand our agent base and I think we’ll be adding some additional staff as well,” he said.

Mark said that at least for Foundation Realty, there has been a dramatic increase in sales from 2011 to 2012.

“We’ve also seen some modest price increases in properties sold,” he said. “I think the market is improving.”

Mark said the decision to expand into Tecumseh also included the fact that several of Foundation Realty’s real estate agents live in Tecumseh and are active in the community through such activities as the Tecumseh Kiwanis Club, serving on the Downtown Development Authority, and other civic involvement.

“We are locally owned and we really pride ourselves in being so,” said Mark. “That includes being active in the community, and it’s really important for us to have a presence in the community.”

Baker Construction is renovating some of the space for better accommodation of a real estate office. He said he hopes for the renovations to be completed by mid-March.

Matt Baker also looks forward to the opening of a third Spotted Cow in Tecumseh’s downtown.

“Our Tecumseh location will have ice cream, coffee, espresso, lattes and cappuccinos,” he said, but added that it would not be serving food entrees. The shop will, however, also sell ice cream pies and novelties that people have become accustomed to expect from the company’s other stores.

Matt said the company will be making some accommodations to the space to include seating for 24 or 25 people.

“We hope to keep it as close to its historic nature as possible,” he said, adding that he’s found marble flooring under the carpet and hopes to restore some of the wood. The building was once the home of the historic Lilley Bank.

Matt said that the hope was to have the store open by April 1, and to have expanded hours from what some in Tecumseh might be accustomed to, including being open on Sundays. He said the venture might help revitalize Tecumseh’s downtown.

“Maybe we’ll set a trend,” Matt said.

Both Foundation Realty and The Spotted Cow will announce a grand opening or ribbon cutting events when the businesses are ready to be opened to the public.




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