Michigan Strategic Fund Approves Projects Expected to Generate $41.7 million, Create 248 jobs

A mixed-use development being built on a vacant site in downtown Ferndale received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced at its Tuesday meeting.
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Development on Troy
Development on Troy, a five-story mixed-use development in Ferndale, as well as other Michigan projects, have received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. // Rendering courtesy of Versa Wanda

A mixed-use development being built on a vacant site in downtown Ferndale received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced at its Tuesday meeting.

“The Development on Troy project will fill in a long-empty lot in Ferndale and will revitalize one of the city’s priority sites into an engaging downtown experience,” says Jeff Mason, CEO of corporation. “We’re pleased to support this joint partnership between the city of Ferndale and Versa Wanda and look forward to the momentum of this project and the additional investment it will encourage in the area. This project will drive further economic growth in communities around the state.”

Versa Wanda, a development group, and Ferndale plan to construct the five-story Development on Troy, also called the dot, which will include retail space, office space, and parking. The project also includes the redevelopment of the public alley, a public plaza, a special events plaza, and the redevelopment of Troy Street adjacent to the project. The city will finance and own the parking portion.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of nearly $29.4 million and create 190 full-time equivalent jobs. Planning for the project began in late 2015.

“We are proud to be working with the city on this truly mixed-use project. In the end, the dot will be a catalyst for bringing modern urban office product to the city,” says Greg Erne, partner of Versa Wanda. “Additionally, the ground floor space will help cultivate the truly unique retail personality of the city of Ferndale.”

The fund approved a $3 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan participation award. The city of Ferndale Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received fund approval of local and school tax capture valued at more than $24 million. The city has approved the issuance of municipal bonds valued at about $21 million in support of the project. Ferndale is certified with the corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.

“The community’s DNA and fingerprints are all over this project,” says Joseph Gacioch, city manager. “They helped us achieve a project that will deliver parking capacity and affordable housing, enable small businesses to flourish, create a sense of place for the community, and become a player in office recruitment. The saying ’it takes a village’ couldn’t be more appropriate for this project. Delivering all of those asks was a tall order, and we couldn’t have done it without such great partners in the MEDC and the folks at Versa Wanda LLC.”

The dot will add needed parking and the downtown’s first Class A office space.

The fund approved projects across the state expected to generate a capital investment of $41.7 million and create 248 jobs.

The city of South Haven has received $871,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for its plans to renovate streetscape elements and public water, sewer, and road infrastructure along a four-block section of Center in Street in the downtown. The Center Street Placemaking Initiative is designed to enhance walkability and pedestrian safety. The improvements will address capacity shortfalls and outdated water infrastructure, adding new hydrants, removing any lead service lines, replacing sanitary sewers that run under buildings, and replacing the roadway.

The total investment for the project is nearly $3.5 million. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Drinking and Water Revolving Fund Loan is providing about $1.2 million, and the USDA Rural Development is contributing $100,000. The balance will come from the city of South Haven and the Downtown Development Authority.

The city of Gaylord was awarded $140,180 in Community Development Block Grant funds for a façade project in the downtown. The project will enhance the appearance of two buildings that will include renovating the existing façades to accommodate the historic character of the original spaces. Work will include brick cleaning, tuckpointing, and adding stucco, stucco gables, and covered entries.

The project is expected to result in a total private investment of $121,500. The city of Gaylord has set aside $4,000 in local funding.

Houghton Holdings LLC is redeveloping a vacant, three-story historic bank building into a 17-room boutique hotel in downtown Houghton. The Vault Hotel will have 14,564 square feet of space and will add to the city’s vision to cultivate the downtown as a retail and dining destination. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once completed, the project is expected to result in a total capital commitment of $3.4 million, along with the creation of eight full-time equivalent jobs, resulting in a $646,713 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant.

The city of Houghton will deed the company three additional covered parking spaces, valued at about $30,000, in addition to making an adjacent parking structure and public infrastructure improvements valued at $141,000. The city of Houghton is engaged with the corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.

Four 75 LLC is redeveloping a building in downtown Marquette into a mixed-use building that will include a pastry shop on the lower and street levels and two residential apartments on the second floor. The project is expected to result in a total capital investment of $2.78 million and create about 15 full-time equivalent jobs. The city of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received fund approval of a Brownfield Act 381 Work Plan including local and school tax capture for fund eligible activities in the amount of $271,608.

Local support includes the local portion of the Brownfield Tax Increment Financing estimated at $145,310. Marquette is engaged with the corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.

Reed City has received $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for machinery and equipment needed for the General Mills Operations expansion. General Mills markets its products in more than 90 countries and plans to purchase new machinery and equipment that will allow for increased yogurt production. The project will generate a total private investment of $2 million and create 35 jobs, 18 of which will go to low- and moderate-income individuals.

The city of Escanaba has received $461,545 in Community Development Block Grant funds for its downtown improvement project, which will include the exterior rehabilitation of four historically significant, multi-story buildings on Ludington Street. When completed, the buildings will have mixed-use components. The private leverage contribution is $536,390. The city is sharing predevelopment costs and third-party construction cost estimates with each building owner for their application, totaling $21,600.

Hosler Mechanical Inc. in Ferndale is a mechanical, plumbing, process piping, and fire protection contractor. Oxford Bank will increase the company’s existing working capital line of credit from $7 million to $11 million, which will enable the company to grow. The company employs 151 people. It recently bid on and was awarded five new jobs, totaling about $70 million, with the majority of the projects being completed by the fourth quarter of 2020. The fund is providing nearly $2 million in collateral support that will serve as an enhancement to the additional $4 million working capital line of credit from Oxford Bank. The company will invest $2 million of its own funds toward the project and anticipates adding five full-time employees within the next six months and an additional 10 within the next two years.

Loose Plastics Inc. is a custom sheet extrusion manufacturer in Gladwin. Horizon Bank will provide financing to refinance the company’s existing term debt and working capital line of credit to improve overall cash flow. The fund is providing nearly $1.4 million in collateral support that will serve as an enhancement to the company’s nearly $4.7 million equipment term loan from Horizon Bank. Since 2015, Loose Plastics has increased its revenue by nearly $13 million and currently employs 114 people. The company expects to see an increase in sales of $3 million by 2020. The company will invest $5.5 million of its own funds toward the project and anticipates adding eight full-time employees within the next six months as well as an additional eight within the next two years.

The fund also approved nearly $3.9 million in grants for the Michigan Small Business Development Center as a Strategic Service Provider to fund the continuation of the Technology Consulting Services program, designed to foster a high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem in Michigan through the acceleration of innovation, and the Core Services program, designed to support non high-tech business startups by providing services such as business counseling, market education, and grant writing assistance.

The corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness, and community development with a focus on growing Michigan’s economy.

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