For Matt Brooks and his “little family of companies”, the word “union” has three meanings.
First, his latest business venture is the property formerly owned by the church at 1228 Sixth St. at the corner of Union Street in Port Huron, where the building is being renovated for a video production studio.
“Second, we like to do things that bring people together,” Brooks said recently, waving at his The Roost and The Hatch coworking spaces down the block on Sixth. “Then with our core business, the marriage group, is marriage as a union itself. So we just kind of kissed the street there. It’s Union.
The property is one of several parcels that belonged to Grace Episcopal Church across the street and were eventually reclaimed by Brooks in recent years.
Itself a century-old church building, it was last owned by the Hallway Escape. Escape room operations were moved to nearby Foundry this spring by owner Carol Dalrymple. According to the St. Clair County Deeds Registry, Brooks purchased 1228 Sixth in April for $125,000.
Asked about his schedule for Union, as requested by the newly installed signage outside, Brooks said: “I feel like we have three months.”
“We’re still producing videos, whether it’s social media stuff, or for those things or our main flagship business,” Brooks said. “We create marriage preparation and enrichment courses that are used by couples around the world. This company, we always rent studios. … We find the subject matter experts who will participate in our courses, and then we go. So now, once we convert that into a video production house, we’re going to…send its presenters to Port Huron, which is a badass in itself. Just to get them to come see our city and stay at CityFlats four blocks away.
However, they also hope to rent video space to the community for reservations.
“Where local businesses could come here and produce something high quality with professional sets,” Brooks said. “Whether it’s their website, social media, or training videos, what do you have? That’s the goal for it. »
Create a vision in “demolition mode”
Once he bought the site of the current Roost coworking space at Sixth and Court streets in late 2017, Brooks said he was already considering other properties on the block.
For 1228 Sixth St., Brooks said he originally wanted to create a concert hall. But he needed more parking. And these days, he feels resolute in how it all happened.
Once Dalrymple moved the escape rooms, Brooks renewed his interest.
Now, the two entrepreneurs talk about the new and emerging energy on the block and in the neighborhood when they reference their latest projects.
“There is a lot of pride in the block. Andrew at the museum, he’s still walking around the neighborhood. And what these guys have been doing here now with community gardens, I see people,” Brooks said, referring to Andrew Kercher, director of community engagement at Port Huron Museums, and the garden started by the church. Grace. “…So I look out and see people and it’s really great to see – without being cheesy – but you can almost see the feeling of positivity.”
Last week, Brooks said he expected work on his outdoor landscape to be underway within days. Meanwhile, the interior was still mid-construction.
Although Brooks said he didn’t think it was ripe for visuals yet, it still showed signs of past occupants who were there before and future occupants.
Until this spring, the front rooms were occupied by Dalrymple’s offices and a kitchen. There was a waiting room, murder mystery, and wizard escape rooms, as well as a sunken cargo space and Kid City.
“Every wall here was added as an afterthought until this ‘God is love’ wall,” Dalrymple said, citing the former church.
More recently, the Union project meant “demolition mode” for the property, and Brooks said much of the drop ceiling was gone.
They open up the back of the space, where an old stage and once-covered stairs leading to it are now on display.
Each zone will be a different video production set, Brooks said, with camera equipment in the center and the ability to be repositioned. Over the next two weeks, he added, they would see flooring installed before most of the cleanup continued.
Dalrymple said it was good to see work in this part of town – just on the outskirts of the city center – moving forward.
“You see how everyone is trying to put a little bit of work and effort into the block to make it happen,” she said.
For more visit, theunion.ph.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.