True North Gets City's OK

September 13, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners approved a revised brownfield plan recently for an obsolete building that will become a new headquarters for True North Architecture, Construction and Investments.

The firm, doing business as 607 Dewey LLC for the project, plans to renovate the lower two floors of the building and add a third floor to the structure, which is near the corner of Third Street and Seward Avenue on the city’s northwest side.

True North will occupy the top level and lease the other floors.

“As a design and construction firm, True North is committed to sustainable development which balances the interests of people, profit and planet. Envisioning a new life for an obsolete building is the ultimate expression of sustainable development,” said True North CEO Dan Henrickson.

City Economic Development Director Kara Wood said 607 Dewey, also the building’s address, plans to invest $1.9 million into the project. She also said True North will shift a dozen employees from its current office in Belmont to the new site and add a few more in the coming years. Wood said the firm’s employees will be worth $7,800 in annual income-tax revenue to the city. Their average hourly rate is $31.25.

Wood said there wasn’t any tax-increment financing involved with the project because the building is located in the city’s Renaissance Zone, which is virtually free of state and local taxes, so there isn’t a tax reimbursement available.

Wood said True North was asking for a Michigan Business Tax credit of $380,000, or 20 percent of its $1.9 million investment. But she didn’t think the state would OK the entire request.

“It’s probably going to come in a little lower than that because not all the $1.9 million is eligible for tax credits,” said Wood.

True North plans to seek LEED certification for its new location. The project’s plans include a green roof with solar panels and small wind turbines.

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