Parkland, Emerald Get Green

March 18, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — More than $2 million worth of state and city tax credits will help turn a former middle school into 130 condominiums, with most units selling for less than $200,000.

Another $3.1 million in Single Business Tax credits will aid a local manufacturer in expanding operations here and creating an estimated 719 new jobs.

“This is excellent news for the entire region. These projects are an indication that West Michigan is overcoming some of its recent economic challenges by creating good-paying jobs and reusing vacant properties to attract increased investment to the area,” said Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week.

Parkland Properties will redevelop the former WestMiddle School at 615 Turner NW into 130 condominiums and some commercial space. Jon Rooks, who owns the company, said most of the units would be priced from $95,000 to $195,000, making the condos an affordable buy for many who are interested in living near downtown.

The 200,000-square-foot, four-story building that once housed Union High School will be called Union Square and is located in the city’s Renaissance Zone, which means that condominium owners would have their state and city income tax and property taxes exempted or reduced through 2012.

Property values on

Turner Street
, on the city’s near West Side, have risen by double-digits over the past few years, and occupied homeownership has also risen from 46 percent to 54 percent over the same period.

The Parkland project, with an overall renovation investment of $12.1 million, is expected to carry on that trend.

“We believe the development of WestMiddle School will support continued property value increases, and residential condominiums will further our goal of increasing the number of owner-occupied homes,” said Cecily Near, West Grand Neighborhood Organization executive director.

The West Middle project is the third urban residential development that Parkland has undertaken in the past few years. The company has successfully filled Monroe Terrace on Monroe Avenue and City View Condominiums on Monroe Center with homeowners.

Kennedy Acquisition Inc. has a $9 million expansion plan in place for Emerald Graphics Corp., a maker of plastic-molded and painted products. The firm will expand at both its sites in Cascade Township and Kentwood, instead of relocating to Texas.

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the project will be done over two stages and is expected to result in 719 jobs — with 347 of those positions being directly created by Emerald Graphics.

“Greater Grand Rapids is a center for manufacturing excellence specifically because companies like these continue to invest and grow here,” said Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc., referring to Emerald Graphics.

“As we continue to foster emerging clusters in life sciences, information technology, alternate materials and aerospace,” she added, “our advanced manufacturing companies will play a critical role in providing not only high-quality jobs, but also goods and services for these new markets.”     

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