Several U.P. Counties awarded funds for blight elimination

LANSING, MICH. — Nineteen cities across Michigan will receive funding for residential and commercial blight elimination projects using more than $3.6 million in grants from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Executive Director Earl Poleski announced today.

“An investment in blight elimination is an investment in the future of our great state,” Poleski said. “These blight grants will trigger economic growth and improve public safety in towns and neighborhoods from the U.P. to southeastern Michigan.”

County land banks and local units of government were invited to submit eligible projects for a MSHDA-funded blight elimination grant opportunity by late June. The call for applications asked for project proposals that would lead to improved public safety, stabilized or increased property values and/or support efforts that were currently in progress.

All structures targeted for demolition are vacant, publicly-owned and meet specific blight criteria including being deemed a public nuisance, identified as dangerous to public safety or have had critical internal systems disconnected or rendered ineffective.

The maximum award amount was set at $25,000 per residential structure, or $100,000 per commercial structure. Residential proposals had to prove that the building’s last use was as a multi- or single-family residential structure and commercial projects had to be part of development plans with existing funding commitments and required a local match of at least 10 percent.

Thirty-six applications came in from all over the state, totaling nearly $6.2 million in requests for funding. Through a competitive application process the grant awards were issued to:

Alger County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $57,791
The funding will be utilized in Trenary to demolish the condemned Longbranch Saloon. The site will be developed by the Trenary Northern Trails (TNT) Snowmobile Club into a new trail access hub. The hub is a prerequisite for their trail project and will include car and snowmobile parking, trail maintenance equipment storage, and a multi-use warming facility.

Baraga County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $26,000
The funding will be utilized in the Village of L’Anse to demolish a four-unit vacant property that is in a state of abject and total despair in a residential area. The property will be sold to the highest bidder after clean-up is complete, allowing the land bank to put this property back on the tax rolls.

Calhoun County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $100,000
This project will demolish a long-abandoned commercial property located in a dense residential neighborhood in Marshall, thus making way for new residential and commercial growth and development.

Cass County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $84,000
The project will remove four vacant, blighted residential homes in Dowagiac that are all structurally compromised, pose public safety risks and have been deemed unsafe for human occupancy.

Detroit Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $458,000
Funding will help demolish 30 blighted houses in order to stabilize property values, trigger private investment and improve public safety. The city will match the funding to demolish an additional 30 blighted houses, for a total of 60 demolitions.

Genesee County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $500,000
The funding will be utilized in Flint to tear down seven blighted commercial properties that are located in key nodes within Flint’s Innovation District. The demolition projects will take place in collaboration with public and private sector partners, including the City of Flint, the Flint and Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Genesee Metropolitan Planning Commission, and private developers.

Kalamazoo County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $132,000
The project will target six blighted residential properties in Kalamazoo’s Northside, Vine and Edison neighborhoods, creating room for new housing stock and commercial redevelopment.

Marquette County Land Bank Authority: Grant amount: $138,000
The funding will be utilized in the cities of Ishpeming and Negaunee to provide funding to demolish nine residential structures; two residential structures in Ishpeming’s Middle/High School neighborhood, four in the city’s Inspiration Zone and three residential structures in Negaunee.

Berrien County: Grant amount: $102,000
Funding will target the demolition of 25 blighted, tax-foreclosed properties within three targeted communities, including Benton Harbor, Benton Charter Township and Buchanan.

Cheboygan County: Grant amount: $200,000
The funding will be utilized in downtown Cheboygan to tear down two blighted commercial buildings that previously functioned as a restaurant with apartments above and a banquet hall/bowling alley. After demolition a portion of the site will be paved for additional parking for Festival Square and the Cheboygan Opera House and for food trucks to use during special events. The city is also exploring using the property for pop-up shops.

Schoolcraft County: Grant amount: $106,000
The funding will be utilized in Manistique and Germfask Township to demolish six dilapidated properties that are detriments to neighborhood stabilization and tourism. Obtained through tax foreclosure by Schoolcraft County, these vacant structures have been obstacles to neighborhood investment efforts. The goal of demolishing these buildings is to foster public safety and economic development.

City of Bay City: Gant amount: $250,000
The funding will be utilized in Bay City to demolish 22 tax-foreclosed structures identified in Bay City’s Housing Improvement Strategy or that fall within areas that have been targeted as having highly clustered low state equalized value in the city. Of the 22 structures, three lie outside of target areas, but removal will have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

City of Grand Ledge: Grant amount: $95,000
Four vacant property demolitions are planned, which will eliminate long-standing public nuisance properties in various neighborhoods around the city.

City of Jackson: Grant amount: $250,000
The city will demolish 25 blighted, vacant and/or tax foreclosed residential structures in two targeted areas that demonstrate a large level of public/private investment.

City of Monroe: Grant amount: $174,300
The project is within Monroe’s Orchard East neighborhood and will directly assist in the demolition of one commercial and seven residential abandoned properties within the planned footprint of the River Raisin Heritage Corridor expansion project.

City of Muskegon: Grant amount: $195,000
The funding will be utilized in Muskegon’s Nelson Neighborhood to demolish 20 structures in their target area that includes the Mercy Health-Hackley Campus, Muskegon High School, the Midtown Square development adjacent to the city’s downtown district. At the start of 2017, the target area was expanded to incorporate a neighboring area containing an additional 11 residential blocks.

City of Port Huron: Grant amount: $250,000
The funding will be utilized in Port Huron to demolish 10 residential properties in three target areas, including the city’s downtown, Mansfield Park and South Park. Targeting and demolishing these blighted properties will complement new investment into the city and create stability in neighborhoods. Removal of these blighted homes will increase property values, create new homeownership in the city and improving public safety.

City of Saginaw: Grant amount: $500,000
The funding will be utilized in Saginaw to demolish 67 land bank-owned blighted residential structures. Demolition of blighted housing in the area will promote safety and raise property values in neighborhoods. Empty lots allow for businesses to expand, new businesses to grow and new residents to move in.

City of Sturgis: Grant amount: $48,800
The city will demolish four properties in neighborhoods within walking distance of the central business district, public services, nearby employers, parks, schools and other amenities.