City commission supports new jobs, new housing in new year

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The Grand Rapids City Commission kicked off its new legislative year focusing on job and housing creation.

The city commission held public hearings on two proposed development projects that will result in 245 jobs coming to Grand Rapids with an estimated $142,616 in new annual income tax revenue to the city. It also supported future housing development totaling $87 million that will create 308 new housing units — 263 of which will be affordable. It also learned more about proposed zoning changes that would promote the development of new housing.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said the incentives provided by the commission are an investment in Grand Rapids’ future economic prosperity and housing needs.

“Generating high-quality employment and housing opportunities is imperative for the future vitality of our community,” she said. “This is especially important in a tough and competitive economic climate. These are exactly the types of investments the city needs to make, and I appreciate them coming to the commission’s consideration. This is just the beginning, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other investments we will be able to make in 2021.”

City Manager Mark Washington said these efforts represent a concerted effort to focus on economic recovery and growth following a challenging year dominated by the pandemic.

“The past year has been difficult for everyone,” Washington said. “Despite those challenges, I’m encouraged that we continue to find economic and housing opportunities to help the city recover. I am optimistic and remain committed, now more than ever, to ensuring we grow and thrive, together, as a community.”

Job creation

The city commission held a public hearing to consider performance-based incentives for Perrigo Company to establish its North American headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids.

Perrigo representatives provided an update on the company’s plans to locate its North American headquarters to a new building at 430 Monroe Ave. NW at Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park.

The $34.5 million investment and 15-year lease of 63,550 square feet of office space is the result of a collaboration between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, The Right Place Inc., the city of Grand Rapids, Health Innovation Partners, Perrigo and its consultant, CBRE.

“The decision by the company signifies the advantage Grand Rapids offers for headquarter locations and the importance of the Medical Mile to the regional healthcare and biomedical industries,” said Jeremiah Gracia, Grand Rapids economic development director.

The Perrigo investment adds to investment in the MSU Research Facility and the Doug Meijer Innovation Center on the Grand Rapids Innovation Park that in total will create 150 new jobs. Approximately 100 of the positions are for existing Perrigo employees who will transfer to Grand Rapids, and approximately 50 will be newly created positions associated with expected company growth.

The city commission also held a hearing to consider an application for a brownfield plan amendment for the cleanup and redevelopment of a 10-acre site located at 1601 Madison Ave. SE. The first phase of the project has an estimated investment of $12.5 million.

Amplify GR and Rockford Construction proposed to demolish an existing 250,000-square-foot industrial building and construct a 60,000-square-foot office/industrial building and surface parking lot on a 3-acre portion of the property. The new building will be leased to a device/data management company, which will relocate its headquarters to Grand Rapids.

Sixty-nine jobs will be relocated to Grand Rapids, and the new tenant anticipates the creation of 26 new jobs. The project itself will result in 95 new full-time jobs with an average salary of $21.57 per hour and generate approximately $42,600 in city income taxes per year.

Housing creation

The city commission gave the final go-ahead for a three-story, 16,133-square-foot, $2.5 million renovation project at 730 and 736 Leonard St. NW that will result in a mix of 18 studio and one-bedroom apartments, first-floor office and retail and basement level storage.

The building’s current retail establishment, Chaser Apparel, will move from the storefront to a newly renovated portion of the first floor. The Bazzani Building Company will relocate its offices to the property, and a restaurant/coffee shop also is planned for the first floor.

The applicant said it will attempt to achieve net carbon zero with the project and will pursue LEED certification. In addition to the environmental certifications, the applicant is working to achieve 15% micro-local business enterprise, women-owned business enterprise and minority-owned business enterprise participation in the construction of the project.

The project has the support of the West Leonard Business Association, West Side Corridor Improvement Authority and the West Grand Neighborhood Organization.

Approval of tax exemptions and payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT)

The commission approved a series of projects to receive tax exemption and PILOT as authorized by the state housing development authority act and city ordinance. The housing projects approved for PILOT for the rent-restricted units will pay either a 4% service charge of annual shelter rent or a 1% service charge of annual shelter rent in addition to a 2% annual contribution to the city’s affordable housing fund.

The commission approved conditional PILOTs to support application to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program for the following projects:

Bradley Commons, 3555 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. SE

This $13.8 million project involves demolition of a former furniture store near the Shops at CenterPoint mall and construction of a four-story building with elevator. This 54-unit general occupancy and permanent supportive housing development will include six barrier-free units, community room, laundry room, property management and supportive services office space, 43 on-site parking spaces, bike racks and landscaped grounds.

The development anticipates 19 MSHDA project-based vouchers and HUD Section 811 rental assistance for nine one-bedroom units. The 19 permanent supportive housing units will serve chronically homeless individuals, while the Section 811 units will serve very low- and low-income adults with disabilities. All units will be available to households with income at or below 80% of area median income (AMI). Units will be rented under the rent and income restrictions of the LIHTC program.

Breton Grove, 2400 43rd St. SE

This $14.9 million project involves construction of a four-story building with an elevator and grade-level parking. This 52-unit general occupancy and permanent supportive housing development will include six barrier-free units, community room, laundry room, property management and supportive services office space, 74 on-site parking spaces, bike racks and landscaped grounds.

The development anticipates 19 MSHDA project-based vouchers for permanent supportive housing units that will serve vulnerable populations, including those with a disability and/or experiencing homelessness. All units will be available to households with income at or below 80% of AMI. Units will be rented under the rent and income restrictions of the LIHTC program.

Stockbridge Landing, 585 and 601 Stocking Ave. NW

This $16.5 million Woda Cooper Companies development project involves the demolition of the Arsulowicz Brothers Mortuaries building and the construction of two four-story buildings, each with elevators and grade-level parking. This 58-unit general occupancy and permanent supportive housing development will include six barrier-free units, community room, laundry room, property management and supportive services office space, 46 on-site parking spaces, bike racks and landscaped grounds.

The development anticipates 21 MSHDA project-based vouchers and HUD Section 811 rental assistance for nine one-bedroom units. The 21 permanent supportive housing units will serve chronically homeless individuals while the nine Section 811 units will serve very low- and low-income adults with disabilities. All units will be available to households with income at or below 80% of AMI. Units will be rented under the rent and income restrictions of the LIHTC program.

Boston Square Together I project, 1480 Kalamazoo Avenue SE

This $15.9 million Brinshore Development and Amplify GR mixed-used, mixed-income project involves construction of a three- and four-story structure containing 45 apartments.

Approximately 8,350 square feet of commercial space will be located on the ground floor with residential units on the three upper floors. Condominium Unit 1 will contain the dedicated commercial space. Condominium Unit 2 will contain 36 affordable rental units and Condominium Unit 3 will contain nine market rate rental units.

Apartments will feature modern amenities and high-efficiency appliances. The building will have an elevator, on-site parking, on-site management, a community room and an exercise room.

The 36 affordable rental units will be available to households with income at or below 60% of AMI and will be rented under the rent and income restrictions of the LIHTC program. The nine units in Condominium Unit 3 will be available at market rate.

This project is the first phase of a larger initiative, known as Boston Square Together, to redevelop approximately 9 acres in the Boston Square neighborhood. The comprehensive redevelopment will include a community hub with early learning center, a public park, and additional retail and residential space.

Leonard Apartments, 851 Leonard St. NW

The $12.7 million Genesis Nonprofit Housing Corporation Leonard Apartments project involves the repurposing of a former funeral home and its parking lot to create 38 affordable rental units.

The development also will include card access, a secured lobby, security cameras and lighting, a community room and a conference room. There will be 33 on-site parking spaces and four accessible spaces. Thirty-two apartments will be barrier-free Type B, five will be barrier-free Type A, and one will be declared visitable, or accessible by wheelchair.

Nineteen units with project-based vouchers will be reserved for permanent supportive housing for people with special needs that have income at or below 30% of AMI. The other 19 units will target households earning 40% to 60% AMI. Units will be rented under the rent and income restrictions of the LIHTC program.

Union Suites on Coit, 608, 614, 618, 622, and 626 Coit Ave. NE

The $13.2 million Union Suites LLC and Dwelling Place Nonprofit Housing Corporation project is a three-story, 52-unit courtyard-style apartment building with 52 below-grade parking spaces. The development will include a secure entry, leasing office, community room and native landscaping.

The building will be visitable with each apartment having zero-step entries, living rooms and bathrooms. Ten percent of the units will be barrier-free Type A. First-floor units will have private yards with private entrances.

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