Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 18, 2013

Proposals seek approval

By BRIAN McGILLIVARY bmcgillivary@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners will consider three proposals that could pave the way for millions of dollars in redevelopment.

Two developers will ask commissioners for about $660,000 in brownfield tax incentives to replace two houses on Eighth Street with commercial redevelopments. The projects could set a trend of tax incentives for redevelopment along the entire Eighth Street corridor.

City commissioners also will consider a separate rezoning requests on the corner of Cass and Washington streets to allow construction of a four-story, mixed-use building on the northeast corner when they meet today at 7 p.m. in the governmental Center.

Property owner Tom McIntyre of Traverse City needs an extra three feet in height for his 48-foot-tall, four-story building that will feature commercial and parking on the ground floor and three stories of 19 condominium apartments above it.

Called Washington Place, the development would mark the third high-end housing development proposed for the downtown this year.

”It’s a hot market, people want to be downtown,” said Russ Soyring, city planner. “A survey ... shows it’s also the most expensive housing location in the city.”

Rezoning approval will lead into the Nov. 25 study session when McIntyre will present a detailed proposal. McIntyre requires commissioners’ approval of the project design to finalize his deal.

Mayor Michael Estes expects the rezoning to pass without opposition, but said the two brownfield requests will draw closer scrutiny.

Dr. Debra Graetz estimates it will cost her almost $1.3 million to bulldoze a home on the corner of Eighth Street and Railroad Avenue and construct a physicians office with a value of $500,000. Graetz told officials she can’t afford to cover the difference and had to halt the project because of escalating demolition and asbestos abatement costs.

Gaetz initially sought up to $493,000 in reimbursement for the asbestos, demolition, site improvements, and brownfield plans and fees but the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority reduced it to $232,686.

The Brownfield Authority would capture all new taxes generated by the development for the next 26 years and reimburse Graetz.

The second request from J. Socks Construction proposes to spend $2.8 million to construct a three-story, 20,264-square-foot building on the northwest corner of Eighth and Cass streets with retail and private parking on the ground floor and seven apartments above. The developers want reimbursement of $395,000 for brownfield costs and it’s expected the project will generate enough new tax revenue to cover the costs in just eight years.

”I don’t necessarily have a lot of problems with them in total,” Estes said. “But one project (Graetz) was already started before they applied for brownfields funding, and that doesn’t look good.”