Brownfield Plan for Ypsilanti Site: Initial OK

A brownfield redevelopment plan for the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town area was given initial approval by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at its April 2, 2014 meeting. A final vote is expected on April 16. [.pdf of Thompson Block brownfield plan]

The plan covers 400-408 N. River St. and 107 E. Cross St., an historic property that has been declared ”functionally obsolete and blighted.” That qualifies the project as a brownfield under the state’s brownfield redevelopment financing act (Public Act 381), which allows the owner to receive reimbursements for eligible activities through tax increment financing (TIF). Approval also will allow the developer to apply for Michigan Business Tax Credits. The property is currently owned by Thompson Block Partners LLC, led by Stewart Beal of Beal Properties. Beal’s father, Fred Beal, attended the April 2 meeting but did not formally address the board.

Beal plans to create 16 “luxury lofts” in the structure’s second and third floors, and up to 14,000 square feet of commercial space in the remainder of the site. The project is estimated to cost about $7 million.

The resolution given initial approval by the board also ends a previous brownfield plan for part of the same site, which was approved in 2008. A fire in 2009 delayed the project. The new plan now covers the 107 E. Cross, which was not part of the original plan, and includes public infrastructure improvements, such as streetscape enhancements along North River Street.

The Washtenaw County brownfield redevelopment authority approved this plan at its March 6 meeting. Subsequently, the plan was approved by the Ypsilanti city council on March 18. The city council’s action included approving an “Obsolete Properties Rehabilitation” certificate, which freezes local millages at the current, pre-development level for 12 years. Because of that, the project’s TIF capture will apply only to the state’s school taxes.

The project can get up to $271,578 in eligible cost reimbursed over a 12-year period, for activities including brownfield plan and work plan preparation, limited building demolition, selective interior demolition, site preparation and utility work, infrastructure improvements, architectural and engineering design costs, asbestos and lead abatement, and construction oversight.

The intent of the state’s brownfield redevelopment financing is to support the redevelopment of urban sites that will increase the municipality’s tax base. Tax increment financing allows an entity to capture the difference between the taxable value before a project is undertaken, and the value of the property after it’s developed.

A public hearing on this proposal was also held at the April 2 meeting. Only one person – Tyler Weston, representing Thompson Block Partners – spoke, telling the board that it would help the project.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building, 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]