Last Parcel Goes On The Block

August 1, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — The city of Grand Rapids has one major industrial property left to sell, and its $90,000 price tag works out to about $2.50 per square foot.

The vacant 0.83-acre parcel — site of the former Kessler building — has as its address 1405 S. Division Ave., but actually fronts on Stevens Avenue.

The property is located in a Renaissance Zone, a designation that — to encourage redevelopment — makes it virtually tax-free for an extended period. Tenants of Rennaissance Zone properties don’t pay single business taxes, local property taxes or state and city income taxes for as many as 15 years from the date of the zone’s original designation.

In addition to the tax incentive, Eric Soucey, an economic development coordinator for the city, pointed out that the Kessler site parcel is attractive because it also is located on a major business route and has easy access to the expressway.

He said the property has been on the market about a year, and several interested parties have inquired about it, but so far no one has made an offer for it. 

“We have not received any formal written proposals to purchase the property, but we would certainly entertain them,” Soucey added.

Both city officials and the appraiser feel the highest and best use of the property would be a commercial or industrial development, he said.

He said the city’s asking price is exactly what the property was appraised at.

Soucey said the city’s objectives in putting the property on the market are that:

  • The proposed development contribute to and complement the economic vitality of the surrounding business neighborhood

  • It meet applicable zoning, appearance and streetscape design requirements

  • It conform to existing zoning and achieve highest and best use for the site.

He said the city won’t sell to a developer who can’t also demonstrate that it possesses the financial ability to complete the project.

“In addition to price,” he said, “we’re looking for the investment in the development, the job creation and for somebody who would be a good neighbor to surrounding businesses in the area,”

He stressed that city doesn’t actively seek out properties to buy and resell, but, rather, inherits them when properties are abandoned and foreclosed on for back taxes.

“We are not at this point assembling properties for development, although it is an interesting concept to us,” Soucey said.

“This property, as most properties we’ve seen, came to us through the tax reversion process.”

The city owns other pieces of property that may have industrial or commercial zoning, but none is for sale at this point, he noted.

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