Land Transfer In The Works
The deal, which is allowed under state law, would reallocate the jurisdiction of a small triangular parcel of the 200 acres that Steelcase Inc. intends to sell to Ashley Capital, shifting it from
Under the agreement, the two cities would share property and income tax revenues, and
Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong called the potential transfer a "powerful example" of two cities coming together to promote economic growth.
Steelcase signed a letter-of-intent to sell the property that borders its headquarters on
Ashley Capital renovated a former General Motors plant of over 1 million square feet in
What Ashley Capital has planned for the Steelcase site isn't clear yet, and the property transaction isn't expected to close until late this year.
"They are working on their conceptual design for the project, which is a mixed-use development," said DeLong.
"We don't know how many jobs or how much investment yet, but it will be a super project," he added.
Hanging over the deal, however, is a tax issue. City Treasurer Al Mooney said last month that Steelcase owes Grand Rapids $127,391 in abated taxes from an exemption the company received five years ago, but which it has failed to follow through on. At the heart of the matter is the Leap chair plant, as equipment purchased for the factory was granted the tax abatement.
The plant is situated on the land Steelcase intends to sell to Ashley Capital, and the firm will move production from the site if the sale is completed. Doing that would violate the exemption certificate Steelcase sought and accepted, and would likely mean that the office furniture maker would be responsible for the taxes it didn't have to pay the past five years.
But city officials haven't decided yet whether they will require Steelcase to repay those taxes. First Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak, though, is convinced the city should go after those dollars. He said Steelcase can afford to make that payment, especially since the company announced it recorded a net profit of $18 million during the first quarter of this year.
Another city commissioner said the matter should be set aside for another day and kept separate from the proposed land transfer with
"The tax issue is another thing that can come to our table," said 2nd Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala.