Projects Get Citys OK

December 27, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners gave projects being done by Second Story Properties and the Irish Twins Group LLC a boost last week when they amended one brownfield redevelopment plan and approved another.

Second Story Properties, owned by Sam Cummings and John Green, is getting ready to turn the former downtown YMCA building at 33 Library St. NW into a condominium residence known as The Fitzgerald.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. told the city that state tax dollars couldn’t be used to reimburse Second Story for improvements the developer will make to Veteran’s Park, which is situated across Library from the building. Commissioners agreed and only city tax dollars, raised by property-tax increments from the project, will be used to repay Second Story $747,500 for the upgrades to the city-owned park.

Second Story will also be reimbursed $757,000 for interior demolition work that needs to be done to the 90-year-old building, and for site preparation for the 56 condos that the firm will build there. Reimbursements for both are allowed under the state’s brownfield act. State and city tax-increment dollars will be used to repay Second Story for those eligible activities.

Payment could take up to 15 years, five years longer than originally thought, because state money can’t be used for the park reimbursement. The extra term could cost the city $200,000 more in interest charges. The annual rate is 4.5 percent.

Second Story, doing business as 33 Library LLC for the project, is investing $13.8 million into renovating the eight-story structure. At least 34 of the 56 condos designed for The Fitzgerald have been reserved.

“I suspect that there will be 60 residents there who will produce about $24,000 in city taxes,” said City Economic Development Director Susan Shannon, who added that the YMCA was tax exempt.

Commissioners also approved the brownfield plan for the Irish Twins Group, owned by brothers Jack and Rob Buchanan, for its renovation of the former Imperial Metals building at

801-803 Ionia Avenue NW
in the Monroe North Business District.

Irish Twins will be reimbursed $923,200 for demolition work needed for the mixed-use project and for the removal of 14,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the site in order to build 68 underground parking spaces. Removing the toxic dirt will cost the firm almost $416,000.

Irish Twins Group has also asked for a $900,000 credit on the Single Business Tax.

The developer plans to transform the former factory into office space and into the new home for Founders Brewery, which is currently located in the Brass Works Building at 648 Monroe Ave. NW. The Irish Twins Group is investing $9.7 million into the project; work is set to begin in the first quarter of 2006.

“It’s an underutilized industrial site in the North Monroe area. The city can’t lose any property tax because that already goes to the Monroe North (Tax Increment Financing Authority),” said Shannon

The development could create up to 184 new jobs. Jack Buchanan is CEO of Blue Bridge Ventures LLC. Rob Buchanan is a partner in the law firm of Buchanan and Beckering.

The state has to approve both brownfield plans.    

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