Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 20, 2014

Officials: Hotel/NMC project needs more housing

TRAVERSE CITY — A proposed brownfield redevelopment project outside the city center may need to find space for a dozen more apartments to generate enough public benefit to justify a plea for $7.8 million in tax reimbursement.

The project at the corner of East Front Street and Munson Avenue next to Northwestern Michigan College is expected to cost from $35 to $37 million and increase the city's tax base by $13 million. It also would create two buildings NMC officials expressed interest in renting for student housing and a new bookstore and offices.

But the project eliminates 25 affordable apartments from a city where officials constantly lament the lack of housing.

Property co-owner and developer Alex Mowczan, owner of the adjacent Cambria Suites Traverse City, included 12 to 16 affordable apartment units in the development, but officials with the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority want more.

"I would like to bring more apartment units to that site," said Jean Derenzy deputy director of planning and development for the county. "If there is going to be an incentive, we have to at least match what we are losing or increase it."

Mowczan applied to the authority for a brownfield designation that would reimburse him for the costs to construct a 310-space private parking deck and demolish the Shadowland Motel and Forest Hills Apartments. The property is not contaminated, but would qualify for such a designation after city assessor Polly Cairns found the two structures "functionally obsolete" because they are dated, in poor condition, and not economically competitive with the city's stock of more upscale motels and apartments.

The brownfield authority will consider the application when it meets June 25 at 8 a.m. in the Governmental Center.

City officials said they won't lament the passing of the Shadowland, which recently has become known for drug raids and criminal arrests of its occupants and visitors. But the loss of housing detracts from the other public benefits needed to grant the brownfield designation.

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