Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 18, 2014

Hotelier and NMC consider joint project

TRAVERSE CITY — A local hotelier proposed a $36 million retail, office, and housing development on East Front Street to serve Northwestern Michigan College, but will need a $7.8 million tax reimbursement to make it happen.

Alex Mowczan, owner of Cambria Suites Traverse City and Best Western Four Seasons, submitted an application to the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Authority to obtain reimbursement for the cost to demolish a small hotel and two apartment buildings he owns and construct a four-level private parking deck.

The property is not contaminated, but city Assessor Polly Cairns determined the existing apartment buildings and the Shadowland Motel are functionally obsolete, qualifying them for brownfield redevelopment assistance.

Mowczan proposes to construct a 12-unit apartment building; a three-story commercial building with 8,000-square feet of retail space on Munson Avenue; a single-story executive training center; and a four-story, 80-unit apartment building all served by the parking deck.

NMC officials provided a letter of interest in the project to rent the commercial space for the college bookstore and may also consider renting the other two floors of office space, said Mike Wills, development consultant for the project.

NMC also would use the larger apartment building consisting of one bedroom and studio apartments for student housing during the school year. Mowczan would then lease the apartments during the summer months to tourists and other visitors seeking extended-stay housing.

The parking deck allows them to add more building onto the 3-acre parcel, Wills said, creating a larger tax base that will pay off the cost of the deck in 12 to 13 years. He said it's not much different than the city building public decks downtown.

"If the city will provide all the parking for downtown businesses for the purpose of enlarging the tax base, why would it be different here," he said.

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