Loan Stimulates GH Project

June 20, 2002
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GRAND HAVEN — An additional $750,350 economic development loan is just the latest financial assistance the City of Grand Haven has received from the state to redevelop a rundown industrial area on the north end of town.

The low-interest loan from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. brings to nearly $2 million the amount of money various state programs have pledged toward the city’s vision of turning the waterfront neighborhood into a new northern gateway that would feature a mixture of residential and retail uses and professional offices. The city also wants to extend its riverfront pathway eastward from the downtown area.

“We think we are on track and the pump is primed,” City Manager Ryan Cotton said of the financial assistance the state has provided for the project.

Much of the money will go to finance acquisition of several parcels that cover more than 20 acres along the Grand River’s south channel, just west of U.S. 31. It also will be used to raze existing buildings and prepare the land for a redevelopment project that’s expected to total up to $25 million.

Acquiring and preparing the land for redevelopment will cost the city and estimated $6.9 million, Cotton said.

The Community Development Block Grant loan awarded last week was the second time the MEDC has provided funding to the North End Redevelopment Project, as it’s known. The MEDC last spring awarded the city a $250,000 low-interest loan from its Core Communities Fund.

The city also has received an $880,000 grant from the Clean Michigan Initiative and a $100,000 cultural arts grant from the state.

The North End Redevelopment Project, spearheaded by the city’s Economic Development Corp., clearly fits within state programs designed to help economic development projects, particularly those that involve waterfront or blighted properties, both of which apply to the Grand Haven project, said Jennifer Kopp, communications director for the MEDC.

“That fact that this land isn’t prime toward development certainly requires the state to step in and provide assistance to make this become a successful reality,” Kopp said. “It certainly is a great area to be developed.”

The city qualified for the $750,350 loan based on the 38 new full-time jobs the project is expected to create. Under terms of the loan, the city will receive a credit of $20,000 for each new job it can document, for a maximum credit of $500,000 that it would not have to repay, Kopp said.

The city would repay what it owes on that loan, as well as the previous $250,000 loan, with proceeds generated from the sale of parcels in the project area and tax revenues captured through tax-increment financing.

The city is presently working to acquire the final pieces of land it needs. One parcel, the former Ottawa County Road Commission site, still needs to have contaminated soil addressed. The city will close on that property once the county gains approval from the state for an interim remedial action plan, Cotton said.

Right now it’s “too soon to tell” when the city may issue requests for proposals from developers, Cotton said. The city has until this time next year to have the project under way, under terms of the $880,000 waterfront redevelopment.

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