Housing development given revised deadline

October 18, 2010
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City commissioners gave G&C Land Co. LLC two more months last week to finishing revising its plan for a northeast side housing development that was originally approved in 2003.

Greg Holwerda, who heads G&C Land Co., has until Dec. 21 to go through the planning process and come back to the commission with an updated proposal for the single-family homes his firm wants to build in the Chesapeake Hills plat between Maryland and Plymouth avenues NE. If commissioners approve the proposal then, Holwerda will ask for an extension to build the development.

The latest deadline for the project’s construction expired Oct. 17, and the initial site plan contained 44 lots.

After the city approved the project for a second time in 2006, a new zoning regulation went into effect that requires a building to be 75 feet from a wetland. The plat has a wetland and eight of the proposed lots in the development are within that distance of it.

Commissioners declined in May to give the project a two-year extension for construction until the wetland issue was resolved. They told Holwerda to design a new layout for the project with city planners and set a date in September to review what he came up with. Holwerda, however, wasn’t ready then and commissioners moved the review date to last Tuesday. But Holwerda was still working on the new design as of last week.

Construction hasn’t begun on the development due to the weak condition of the housing market and the zoning regulation.

City Planning Director Suzanne Schulz told commissioners last week that Holwerda has made a “good-faith effort” to create a new plan for the property and that he could get through the city’s planning process by Dec. 21.

Commissioners also approved two construction projects for brownfield designation last week. One went to Health Park Central LLC for a proposed medical office building along Cherry Street SE near the Saint Mary’s Health Care campus. The project is a combination of new construction and the renovation of an existing building, and the work will result in a three-story structure.

Health Park Central is investing $15 million into the project, which is expected to create 37 new jobs. The city stands to gain $15,400 a year in new income-tax revenue from those jobs. The developer will ask the state for a Michigan Business Tax credit of nearly $1.2 million and the Downtown Development Authority to financially support a portion of the project with a redevelopment grant.

Commissioners gave the other brownfield to 20 Monroe Building Co. LP for a $24 million, four-story expansion of The BOB at 20 Monroe Ave. NW. The partnership is headed by Gilmore Collection CEO Gregory Gilmore, and the proposed project, which the partners call Bobville, will be built on a parking lot adjacent to The BOB, which the Gilmore Collection owns. When finished, the addition will be home to entertainment, retail and some food manufacturing uses.

“It’s different from anything I’ve ever seen. It’s exciting,” said Third Ward Commissioner James White of the project.

“The key to this is it’s flexible,” said First Ward Commissioner Walt Gutowski. “We certainly are appreciative of what Greg Gilmore has done for downtown.”

The project is expected to create 150 jobs and give the city $34,320 a year in new income-tax revenue. The development firm will apply for a $4.5 million MBT credit but the project does not qualify for tax-increment financing because the property is within the DDA district.

Both projects are being built on contaminated properties; the Michigan Economic Growth Authority has to approve both brownfield applications so the developers can collect the state tax credits.

Commissioners also approved industrial tax breaks last week for Master Finish Co. and the Canal Street Brewing Co.

Master Finish, a metal finisher that serves the auto, hardware and plumbing industries from 2020 Nelson Ave. SE, is expanding and adding a new plating line. The company is investing $525,000 into the project that will create six new jobs.

Canal Street Brewing, which owns Founders Brewing Co. at 235 Grandville Ave. SW, is investing $4.2 million into expanding its production capability. A dozen new jobs will result from the project.

The tax breaks will last for 12 years, and half of the state and local taxes will be exempted for that time period. The break will save Master Finish about $4,000 a year in tax payments, and Canal Street about $35,260 annually.


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