State Approves GR Ren Zones

December 3, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved Grand Rapids’ application to add four new areas to the Renaissance Zone and expand two of the original six areas.

This is the last year that communities can add property to this tax incentive program, which virtually eliminates all state and local taxes for a specified period of years.

By law, Renaissance Zones waive several local and state taxes applicable to Grand Rapids, including the Michigan Single Business Tax; Michigan Personal Income Tax for Grand Rapids Renaissance Zone residents only; operating property tax levies, except debt taxes; and city income tax, for Grand Rapids Renaissance Zone residents and businesses only.

These taxes represent nearly all state and local taxation on a Grand Rapids business or resident.

To date, the Renaissance Zone program has successfully leveraged more than $142 million of investment in the core city and created 1,127 jobs, mostly in vacant and underutilized properties in the core city.

The original six Renaissance Zone areas include a total of 536 acres and more than 780 parcels.

Many of the sites were environmentally contaminated and have been remediated because of this program, according to city officials.

The owners of the newly approved Renaissance Zone properties have guaranteed to invest another $55 million and create 154 more jobs.

The Grand Rapids Renaissance Zone designation began on Jan. 1, 1997, and lasts for 15 years. If a business moved into the zone in the year 2000, for example, they then had 12 years of benefits remaining.

The final three years of the Ren Zone program will begin a phase-in of taxation. For example, in the year 2009 a business will pay 25 percent of its tax liability, 50 percent in the year 2010, 75 percent in the year 2011, and 100 percent after 2011.

One of the new zones is located in the heart of downtown on Monroe Center and includes the former Steketee’s Department Store, Peoples Building and storefronts west of the new police department.

Developers will create up to 70 loft apartments and condos on the upper stories and have committed to bring new entertainment venues and stores to the ground level.

The tax incentives of the Renaissance Zones and promise of new residents will be a powerful tool for filling the remaining vacant storefronts on Monroe Center, according to city officials.           

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