Construction, Economic Development, and Government

City to hear details of 616 Lofts on Michigan

Developer and community builder has two requests.

November 22, 2013
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The latest project from 616 Development has a doubleheader scheduled at City Hall.

City commissioners will hold two public hearings on the same evening next month to hear the details of 616 Lofts on Michigan, a $16 million mixed-use development the firm is proposing for 740 Michigan St. NE and an adjacent parking lot. Both sites are near Eastern Avenue.

The twin bill, which is an unusual public hearing event, will take place Dec. 17.

The first has 616 Development and Midtown Michigan Street applying for a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone for the southwest corner of Michigan and Eastern. The application is the first under the city’s new NEZ policy that commissioners recently updated to conform to the state’s revised statute.

Haris Alibasic, who manages the city’s office of energy and sustainability, pointed out that among the many goals of the NEZ program, a few are to revitalize existing neighborhoods, create new residences, promote new construction, encourage investment and eliminate blight.

The project 616 Development has submitted calls for a new four-story building with 54 market-rate apartments, 9,700 square feet of ground floor retail space, and 95 parking spaces with 68 being built below ground.

Alibasic said the application satisfies the criteria for a NEZ designation. He also said the process would take about 60 days to complete and the designation could be awarded early next year. Gaining that status would reduce 616 Development’s property-tax bill by as much as 28 percent for the site.

“We have a lot of room to expand in that area,” said Alibasic.

“There is good support for this,” said Commissioner Ruth Kelly.

The second public hearing will consider awarding 616 Development brownfield incentives for the project. The firm plans to invest about $3.3 million to remediate the site, work that includes razing a dilapidated and empty building and constructing the underground parking.

“This is a functionally obsolete site that qualifies for brownfield incentives,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director.

Being awarded a brownfield would allow 616 Development to collect its remediation investment through tax-increment financing, money that comes from the higher property tax a completed Lofts project will generate. 616 would get a portion of that tax for an estimated 21 years to recover its cost.

The city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has already approved the reimbursement.

“It’s amazing to me how quickly things are being done on Michigan Street,” said Kelly.

The project would be 616 Development’s first attempt at new construction, after the local firm has completed a half dozen or so renovations in the city.

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