New Offices From Obsolescence

April 2, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — A local development company may learn next week whether it can go ahead with a downtown housing project.

City commissioners will hold a public hearing next week on the proposed project, which is asking the city to locate the property in an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District — a status available to the firm under Public Act 146.

If the city agrees to grant the designation, the company will have a portion of its property taxes reduced by a third for a dozen years.

Lighthouse Investment 3 Corp. plans to invest $1.8 million into creating 26 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the four-story building at 100 Commerce St. SW.

Thomas Herington, of Herington Real Estate Management in Grand Rapids, heads the Lighthouse Investment group.

The Commerce structure is vacant and needs a complete overhaul.

Once Lighthouse buys the building, the firm will renovate it to historic standards and lease commercial space on the ground floor.

The city projected that a finished renovation can generate $23,600 in new property tax revenue each year, and $7,875 of that total would be exempted annually for 12 years.

The building is situated within the Downtown Development Authority boundary, and DDA members recommended that Lighthouse be awarded the designation.

State lawmakers passed PA 146, known as the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act, in 2000 and developers have to meet certain guidelines to qualify for it.

Included among those standards are that a project can’t be started until the district is created; it must involve rehabilitation of an existing property; a finished project must increase economic activity, retain or create jobs, or increase the number of residents within a district, and a developer can’t be behind in any tax payments related to the property.

City commissioners will hold two public hearings regarding obsolete designations on Tuesday, April 13.

In addition to the Lighthouse request, Atkinson Enterprises LLC is seeking similar status for a three-story moving and storage building at 730-736 Leonard NW.

Atkinson plans to renovate the structure’s top two floors into office suites.

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