- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

LINDEN, Mich. (AP) - A youthful resurgence of downtown business owners makes Linden Mayor David Lossing believe the future could be bright for downtown Linden.

“We’ve got some great people coming in and getting involved,” he told The Flint Journal (http://bit.ly/1do3Pqf ).

Within the last year, the Bridge Street Exchange, Gavin Smith Photography, the Ice Cream Garage and The Downtown Sporting Goods Co. all opened doors for retail business downtown.

Lossing said he hopes the growth leads to the redevelopment of the Union Block property, which has sat empty since a 2007 fire.

The fire destroyed the Broad Street Grille, the Serendipity day spa, loft apartments and a law office.

The city attempted to purchase the land in 2012, but an environmental study revealed the presence of petroleum-related contamination in the ground and the city terminated a purchase agreement for it.

The property was purchased in 2008 by LaFontaine Automotive Group, the group continues to own it.

The new businesses springing up all surround Union Block.

“It’s nice to see this type of serious investment by local entrepreneurs,” Lossing said. “Ideally, it will lead to the redevelopment of the old Union Block.”

Tom Diegel, owner of The Downtown Sporting Goods Co. said the decision to open the business was based on his love for the area and his passion for baseball.

“I carry a high-end selection of baseball and softball gear,” he said. “It’s a good situation and a great spot to open up at.”

After creating uniforms out of his home for several years, the work became too much to keep at his house. He opened up the business in December after working to renovate the store since August.

“The business got to the point where I needed to have a storefront,” he said.

Just down the street, Kevin Begola opened the Bridge Street Exchange to add to an already successful business venture.

Online, Begola already owns Titanium Buzz, which creates specialty men’s wedding bands. But with the Bridge Street Exchange, he can sell rings in store, online and added men’s clothing, boots and shaving equipment.

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