Four New Ren Zones Proposed

    GRAND RAPIDS — The City Commission took advantage of its last chance to add properties to its six Renaissance Zone areas by approving four new tax-free zones last week.

    Today was the deadline for applications to be submitted to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for approval. The city received more than 22 applications for Renaissance Zone designation, out of which city staff recommended four projects and two alternative projects.

    Any business in a Renaissance Zone or moving into one is granted virtually tax-free status over the 15 years the designation is in effect.

    City commissioners approved the following applications Tuesday:

    • A proposal by developer Ray Kisor that combines three Monroe Center properties into one new zone: the Steketee’s Building, the Peoples Building and a row of buildings from 51 to 65 Monroe Center.

    The plan is to create 60 to 70 housing units, a women’s health clinic, retail space and about 10,000 square feet of office space.

    • A proposal by Metropolitan Hospital to replace the hospital on Boston Avenue SE with 210 condos after the hospital builds its new campus in Wyoming.
    • A proposal by A-Tek Manufacturing to buy the plant at 520 and 620 Watson St. SW from Minneapolis-based Medtronics and retain 200 existing high-tech jobs in the process. A-Tek also would invest $3 million and create 20 additional jobs.
    • A proposal by Terra Firma Development to redevelop the former Thornapple Valley plant at 2000 Oak industrial Drive NE to house one or two companies on the site.
    • If one or more of the four applicants failed to negotiate a development agreement with the city by Sept. 27, or if the MEDC doesn’t approve one of the top four applications submitted, the first alternate project on the list will be bumped up to take its place.

    Commissioners approved two alternates:

    • A proposal by restaurateur Greg Gilmore to turn the former Michigan Litho Printing building at 1 Carlton NE into a restaurant and office complex with a $2 million investment that would create 30 jobs.
    • A proposal to renovate a former industrial building at 1140 Monroe Ave. NW for retail use.

    At the same time, commissioners approved expansion of the existing Ren Zones with the addition of five other projects:

    • A proposal by Grand Rapids Bedding to expand at its current location at 630 Myrtle St. NW.
    • A proposal by Grand Rapids Spring and Wire to use a half-vacant plant at 648 Bond NW to expand its operations.
    • A proposal by developer Robert Grooters to redevelop and add 100,000 square feet of space to a property at 219 Canton St. SW, adjacent to Union Station.
    • A proposal by Cosmopolitan Development to renovate two rundown properties at 32-38 Hall St. SE for commercial and residential reuse.
    • A proposal by Jedco to invest $4.3 million to rehabilitate the former G&T Meats building at 1615 Broadway NW, which would allow Jedco to expanded its plant capacity.

    According to the city, the Grand Rapids Renaissance Zone program is the most active among the state’s 23 Renaissance Zone programs.

    Developers and businesses have invested $146 million in more than 100 Ren Zone projects that have created 1,000 new jobs since the city launched its program in the fall of 1996 with the designation of six Ren Zone areas.

    Also on Tuesday, commissioners voted 6 to 1 not to approve rezoning of nine acres at 420 East Beltline NE to allow for development of a 215-room, seven-story hotel proposed by developer Karl Carlton.           

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