City completes corridor study approval

April 22, 2012
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Grand Rapids city commissioners passed 15 resolutions last week that make up the core of the Michigan Street Corridor Study. They then approved property-tax breaks for a pair of local manufacturers and allocated a smaller amount of federal funds to a few nonprofit housing developers.

The resolutions commissioners ratified were funding agreements and memos of understanding with a variety of national consultants, federal and state agencies, and neighborhood associations along the corridor, which runs east from the Grand River to East Beltline Avenue on Michigan Street, and south from Leonard Street to Fulton Street.

“The 15 resolutions point to the depth of the project that we have,” said City Planning Director Suzanne Schulz, who organized and is directing the $977,246 study that is primarily looking into the effect the $1 billion investment in the Medical Mile has had, and will have, on Michigan Street and the study area.

“This is a significant project for the city. We’re being recognized by the state as a model,” said Schulz.

The project is significant because of being nearly all encompassing — so much so that the Michigan Department of Community Health gave it a grant because the work includes creating a public health assessment of the study area.

“The project has five themes, and we’ve made health one of those themes,” said Schulz. “If you don’t have a healthy community, then that has an impact on economic development.”

The four-mile area that is being studied has seven residential neighborhoods with 20,000 residents, numerous businesses and the city’s major health institutions. About 50,000 people work and attend school within 50 acres of the study area, and more than 30,000 vehicles travel the corridor every weekday.

Some of the work is already done. A housing study and an employment study were finished a few months ago.

“We have a corridor that has a huge variety of places,” said Commissioner Ruth Kelly.

“It’s great to see all these groups come together to work together,” said Commissioner Dave Schaffer.

Then commissioners approved eight-year industrial tax exemptions for N-K Manufacturing Technologies LLC and One Beer at a Time LLC.

N-K Manufacturing, a custom plastics molder at 1134 Freeman Ave. SW, is investing $860,000 into new machinery and materials-handling equipment in order to expand its injection molding capacity. Half the company’s annual personal property tax from the investment, $5,435, will be abated each year for eight years.

N-K, which employs 75 workers, will add 25 new jobs through the investment. “They are a growing company in the city of Grand Rapids and are hoping to go over 100 employees with this investment,” said City Economic Development Director Kara Wood.

One Beer at a Time, better known as Brewery Vivant, at 925 Cherry St. SE, will spend $190,000 to buy additional production equipment. Half of the investment’s yearly property tax, $1,200, won’t have to be paid for eight years because of the exemption.

Brewery Vivant was awarded the 2011 Gerald Helmholdt Grand Award by the Neighborhood Business Alliance and has been recognized as the nation’s first LEED-certified microbrewery. “It’s only a year old but they’re adding capacity,” said Wood.

In addition, commissioners awarded three nonprofit developers a total of about $1 million in federal funds to help with their residential projects. The Heartside Nonprofit Housing Corp. will get $527,000 for its expansion of the Herkimer Apartments. The ICCF Nonprofit Corp. will get $270,000 to buy, develop and sell three homes. And the New Development Corp will get $270,000 to renovate and sell three houses.

While all of those funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency’s allocation to the city this year was about 25 percent less than last year’s award.

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