City gives project full zone extension

January 27, 2009
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After giving the proposed project one-half of a Renaissance Zone extension late last year, city commissioners added the other half on Tuesday.

“I’m comfortable supporting it,” said Rosalynn Bliss, 2nd Ward City Commissioner.

And that means Wealthy Street Historical Development LLC can include both levels of both buildings that are adjacent to each other in the nearly tax-free zone for 12 more years, if the state approves the application.

In late November, commissioners only extended the zone’s status for the two lower levels that are to be developed into commercial space at 632-636 Wealthy St. SE.

But they wouldn’t approve an extension then for the two upper floors, which are to be developed into condominiums.

“Todd Ponstein still has the energy to do the project but he can’t do it with only half of an extension,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director, of the developer.

“He has his financing in place. We have a promissory note from a bank,” added Wood.

WSHD has owned the structures since August 2007 and plans to invest $700,000 into the renovation work.

The firm has to enter into a development agreement with the city, a document that will include items like a completion date for the project and a commitment to creating jobs.

Ponstein expects 14 new jobs to come from the renovation and the city expects to get a little more income tax from the project than it will give up in property-tax revenue.

The vote almost didn’t take place because 1st Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak, who supported an extension for the project, said nothing was new in the resolution and voting on it after it had already been voted down violated the commission’s rules of order.

“I don’t see anything different in the resolution and we voted it down,” he said.

But City Attorney Catherine Mish said this resolution was different from the previous one and commissioners could vote on the measure.

WSHD joins True North Architecture and Via Design in having extension requests going to the Michigan Strategic Fund for review and approval. Wood said those applications would go to the state in either February or March, and that she plans to make that decision next week.

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