More Houghton business owners concerned about new development

HOUGHTON — More business owners in Houghton are voicing their opposition to proposed new developments downtown. It’s the latest tug of war between those who want to see growth and those who are against it.

It’s been just over a month since Houghton residents held a community action meeting at the library to discuss the possibility of a new hotel project being built downtown. Nothing has been put in stone but some entrepreneurs like the owner of Swift Hardware have been very vocal about possibly putting it on the site of a parking deck downtown.

Now the owner of 5th and Elm coffee is getting in on the debate saying he’s not crazy about the possibility either. Boone Fiala says, “I am not against development. I am against development that would potentially be harmful to our future growth.”

Fiala has been owner here for about eight years and has twelve employees. He’s been monitoring developments closely because his coffee shop is attached to a tunnel that leads to the parking deck in question. It could possibly be the site of a new hotel.

The thirty-seven year old rebuilt after the recent flooding and says he’s not against more lodging but thinks other places would be better. He says city leaders should have asked for public input before they solicited bids to developers. Fiala is afraid of losing tourism and parking for his patrons and doesn’t want to see anything over four stories built. He goes on to say, “We need to feel that we’re being listened to. It’s really disheartening to put in a phone call or send an email and not hear a response back.”

The city manager has gone on record saying no contracts or building plans have been made. Community action organizers are hoping for a positive outcome.