Two west side projects move forward

July 21, 2012
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The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority recently approved a pair of work plans and reimbursement agreements for two new projects on the city’s west side. Both involve remediating contaminated sites and making public improvements that will allow the businesses to capture tax-increment financing for their efforts.

One is the redevelopment of the former Miller Products building at 601 First St. NW. Rockford Construction Co. is investing $4.7 million into the site that will become the firm’s headquarters. The project is a combination of new construction and renovation.

Rockford will be reimbursed $1.1 million over 14 years for its clean-up of the site, including some demolition, removal of lead-based paint and asbestos, environmental response activities and public infrastructure improvements. The costliest activity the company will undertake is making the public improvements; that work has been pegged at $425,000.

The other agreement is with Rylee’s Ace Hardware for its new store at 1205 W. Fulton St., the site of a former Clark gas station. The local retailer plans to invest $1.1 million into the project and will make $400,000 worth of environmental improvements to the contaminated property, including the removal of underground storage tanks and remediation of the soil and groundwater.

“The property is currently in the tax-foreclosure process,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director and executive director of the brownfield authority.

Rylee’s will buy the property from the Kent County Land Bank Authority for $65,700. It plans to begin work in September and open the new store in the spring. The costliest remediation activity for Rylee’s in the project will be cleaning up the soil and groundwater, estimated at $100,000.

The company is also purchasing an adjacent house at 21 Garfield Ave. NW, which also is on a toxic site. Rylee’s will raze the house, remediate the parcel and use it for customer parking.

The brownfield authority also approved an agreement to reimburse the state $151,700 for an excessive school-tax capture in connection with Mercantile Bank’s redevelopment of the site that is now home to its headquarters at 301 Leonard St. NW. The authority also will reimburse Mercantile Bank $16,758 for its 2005 project and will repay the city for the eligible activities that will be involved in its plan to improve Front Street NW. The city’s roadwork is expected to cost $700,000.

The brownfield board also gave its blessing to another city reimbursement. This time it’s for the parking lot built by Parking Services to support the proposed redevelopment of the Imperial Metals property at 801 Ionia Ave. NW in the Monroe North Business District. The project never went forward, and Irish Twins III LLC, the developer at the time, sold the site to Rockford Development.

The city is owed nearly $700,000 in reimbursements, most of which will be coming from future tax increments generated by the property. But, in the meantime, the authority is paying the city $600 for the tax capture it was due in 2007, the only year tax increment was available.

“The private portion of that project hasn’t taken place. The tax increment will rise if a project is developed on the site,” said Wood. “But I haven’t heard of any plans (for it).”

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