Factory To Live On As Condo Retail

February 21, 2005
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HOLLAND — The planned $14 million redevelopment of the former Baker Furniture factory in Holland is cited as an ideal use of the state's brownfield law that provides tax incentives for the re-use of vacant properties.

Scott Bosgraaf of Bosgraaf Commercial plans to convert the 280,000-square-foot factory into a condominium community with complementary retail stores on the first floor. The redevelopment, which began last week with state approval of brownfield tax breaks, will create 144 residential units and 40,000 square feet of commercial space and up to nine storefronts.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority last week approved $3.4 million in brownfield tax incentives for the project, known as The Baker Lofts.

"This is what I consider one of the ideal types of projects for brownfield," said John Czarnecki, vice president for community development for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

"It just demonstrates that you can in fact take a functionally obsolete building and put it to good use," Czarnecki added.

Bosgraaf plans to have the first phase of the project, consisting of 72 condominium units, completed in early August. Subsequent phases for another 72 units and the commercial space are targeted for completion within a few years, he said.

"We'll build it as the demand is there and the first phase is filled," Bosgraaf said.

Bosgraaf acquired the 100-year-old factory last year after Baker Furniture relocated production. Featuring brick walls, hardwood floors and pine ceilings with large timbers for beams, the structure is in great condition structurally.

The building lends itself to redevelopment into an urban residential community, he said.

The redevelopment will maintain and restore the architectural features of the factory, which sits on a 10-acre parcel across the street from the city of Holland's Prospect Park at 24th Street and Columbia Avenue. The location and the building's architectural style combined to make the project appealing and create an atmosphere that Bosgraaf believes will sell.

"It creates a neat environment," he said. "It just adds a lot of personality and a lot of character to the project."

Bosgraaf is seeking tenants for the commercial space that are geared toward neighborhood retail uses such as a deli, coffee shop, spa and salon, dry cleaner, fitness center and a banquet hall.

The tax incentives from the state helped to make The Baker Lofts more financially viable, he said.

The state package includes a $1.2 million break on the Single Business Tax, plus $2 million in tax-increment financing to pay for abating lead and asbestos in the building, installing new streetlight and sidewalks and demolishing portions of the factory.

"The city of Holland could have been left with a tired and rundown vacant industrial site, had it not been for just the right financial incentives and the brownfield statutes which together have made this project a reality," Holland Mayor Al McGeehan said.

An additional financial incentive could come next month if the Holland City Council approves creation of an 11-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone that would freeze the site's assessed value.    

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