BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WLNS) — The ‘crown jewel’ and tallest building in Battle Creek is now back and running after being vacant for approximately 10 years.

With the effort of several organizations and community members, the building has been restored and transformed into a fully occupied apartment complex called ‘The Milton.’

Clovis Bordeaux, the Senior Marketing and Strategy Officer at Battle Creek Community Foundation, says the transformation has helped the city thrive once again.

The foundation made a large contribution to the building to help bring it back to life.

“This is really like a centerpiece of the transformation of what we are trying to do in downtown, and a starting place,” Joe Sobieralski, President and CEO of the Battle Creek Unlimited said.

Sobieralski’s company saw the potential of the facility and gave $3.3 million to help restore it.

The building was originally built in 1930 as the Old Merchants National Bank and Trust Co. At the time, it was the largest financial institution between Detroit and Chicago.

“It was originally built as a bank nearly 100 years ago and it continued to be a bank for several years,” Sobieralski said. “In it’s later life it was turned into commercial office space.”

People often look back on the special memories that they created in the space with proms, weddings and small gatherings that were held on the second floor called the Mezzanine.

“So that history really does lend itself to the specialness, the jewel like quality of The Milton,” Bordeaux said.

The decade it sat vacant, the roof was deteriorating leaving a substantial amount of water damage.

“When the Milton first started, the foundation worked with a developer to get the roofs re-patched and redone, because water had leaked in and drained all 19 floors,” Bordeaux said.

Several community members along with organizations fought to keep the facility and couldn’t resist seeing the space go to waste.

“This type of architecture is nowhere to be found in a market this size. You couldn’t replicate this today. It’s just a true piece of history for the community. The alternative to tearing it down wouldn’t have done it any justice.”

Joe Sobieralski, President and CEO of the Battle Creek Unlimited

The $34 million redevelopment project began in 2017. Today the building is home to 85 apartments that are 100% occupied.

Bordeaux says the community saw the apartments as a way to bring economic development and business back downtown.

“Not only does it bring young professionals and families back living downtown,” Bordeaux said. “But we now have people walking up and down the streets going to business’s that are here.”

The price point for the apartments ranges from the mid $700’s to over $2,000 a month.

The Mezzanine level is now open for the public to see. People can come and experience the space and see the walls that were all hand painted by two artists.