Job Shop

December 27, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Jobs have been foremost on the minds of city commissioners, as they’ve approved a number of tax incentives recently that should result in 300 jobs for the city and eventually more tax dollars for city coffers.

“Here, we’re using real tools to create real jobs in the immediate,” said Rick Tormala, 2nd Ward Commissioner in October.

Tormala made his comment after commissioners gave Grand Rapids Sash and Door an industrial tax exemption that will bring 115 existing jobs to the city and create up to 15 new ones.

Grand Rapids Sash and Door is consolidating its production facility and office personnel at 219 Canton SW, a building located in Union Station and in the city’s Renaissance Zone. The Robert Grooters Development Co. owns Union Station, an industrial park located along U.S. 131, and the company is buying 150,000 square feet of a 250,000-square-foot building in the park. In addition, GR Sash and Door will purchase some new equipment. In all, the firm will invest $4.26 million into the facility and machinery.

The project is expected to create $800,000 in new property tax revenue over the 12 years of the abatement, with $330,000 of that total being eliminated during that period. The city’s share of that tax is $144,000, with half being abated. New income tax revenue to the city is expected to be $468,000 over those dozen years.

Most of the GR Sash and Door facility is in the Ren Zone, which gives the company a full tax abatement through 2008 and a partial one for the following three years. The latest abatement is in addition to the nearly tax-exempt status the Ren Zone offers.

“This is a good one all the way around,” said Mayor George Heartwell.

Up to 150 additional jobs are expected to come from the renovation of the former Junior Achievement building at the southeast corner of

Fulton Street
and
Division Avenue
. Veteran developer Bob Tol’s company, 2 East Fulton, plans to invest $4.6 million into turning the vacant two-story building into a six-level structure with retail, commercial and residential space.

The city also granted 2 East Fulton a brownfield. The developers will get a tax-increment reimbursement totaling $130,000 over two years for demolition work and for replacing the building’s mechanical and electrical systems. The brownfield status makes the building functionally obsolete and places it in the category of being in general disrepair.

“Bringing the building back to life will energize an important gateway to downtown and stimulate additional investment in the area,” said Susan Shannon, economic development director for the city, of the structure in the Heartside Business District.

The JA building is located across Fulton from the former site of the City Centre parking ramp, city-owned property that RSC Associates of Chicago has made an offer on to build a $24 million condominium complex with a bookstore, jazz club and public parking. Talks between the city and RSC, represented locally by Second Story Properties, are ongoing.

RSC offered $2 million for the 37,000-square-foot lot. The property was appraised at $1.95 million.

Commissioners also approved an industrial tax exemption for Wolverine Printing Co., a move that will see the firm add five more jobs to its staff of 30. Wolverine will spend nearly $700,000 on new digital printing and finishing equipment and the purchase should be worth $52,000 in new personal property taxes over the next 12 years. Roughly $33,000 of that figure will be abated.

NTH Consultants Ltd. received a personal property tax exemption from the city for its planned purchase of $300,000 worth of equipment. In return, NTH will relocate 25 workers to the city and add 15 new jobs at its new location in

Clear Water Place
at
1430 Monroe Ave. NW
. The move should generate $144,000 in new income taxes and $41,000 in new property taxes for the city over 12 years.    

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