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New construction project in downtown Ferndale will generate $29.4 million in total investment, create 190 full-time equivalent jobs | Other MSF-approved community development projects around state bring new investment, vibrancy to Michigan downtowns
Rendering of the Development on Troy project courtesy of Versa Wanda, LLC
LANSING, Mich. – A new mixed-use development is being built on a vacant site in downtown Ferndale through a partnership between the city of Ferndale and development group Versa Wanda and with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. The project continues to build on community revitalization projects around the state to help create vibrant places to live, work and play.
“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,” Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, the state’s chief marketing and business attraction agency, responsible for enabling long-term economic opportunity for all Michiganders.
“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, LLC and the city of Ferndale plan to construct a five-story, mixed-use building in downtown Ferndale. When the Development on Troy (the dot) project is completed, it will consist of retail space, office space and integrated parking. The project also includes the redevelopment of the public alley, a public plaza, a special events plaza and redevelopment of Troy Street adjacent to the project. The city will finance and own the parking portion of the project.
The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of nearly $29.4 million and create 190 full-time equivalent jobs. When completed, it will provide a lively, friendly downtown space by promoting density and walkability, and will bring new economic activity and much-needed housing for the community.
MSF today approved a $3 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan participation award. In addition, the City of Ferndale Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received MSF approval of local and school tax capture valued at $24,487,746 to be used to alleviate brownfield conditions at the site. The city of Ferndale has approved the issuance of municipal bonds valued at approximately $21 million in support of the project. The city is certified with MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.
“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,” said Greg Erne, Partner, Versa Wanda LLC. “Additionally, the ground floor space will help cultivate the truly unique retail personality of the city of Ferndale.”
“The community’s DNA and fingerprints are all over this project,” said City Manager Joseph Gacioch, who has worked on the project since its inception in late 2015. ”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 arrival of the dot not only represents the delivery of long needed additional parking capacity, it advances economic resiliency in the downtown as well. The dot will deliver the downtown’s first Class A office space while paying homage to the small business entrepreneurial spirit that made Ferndale so successful by offering newly constructed street-level retail space with lease rates designed to support small and independent business. It also achieves a critical city council initiative by delivering affordable housing in the heart of downtown.
“The dot project has been a long time in the making, and the process was painstaking at times,” said Mayor Dan Martin. “But that was by design; our team and council did their research, made strategic decisions, and the end result will be a development that does more than simply answer today’s parking shortage—it will help Ferndale’s businesses and residents succeed and thrive into the future.”
Today’s project is the latest in a number of community revitalization projects around the state, which in total are 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 Street in downtown South Haven. Once completed, the Center Street Placemaking Initiative will enhance pedestrian safety and walkability along a key downtown street, making it easier for residents and visitors to access business and other amenities within the downtown district. Public infrastructure improvements will address capacity shortfalls and outdated water infrastructure, add new hydrants and remove any lead service lines, replace current sanitary sewers that run under buildings and replace the roadway.
The total investment for the Center Street Infrastructure and Streetscape project is $3,469,083, with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Drinking and Water Revolving Fund Loan providing $1,210,000 and USDA Rural Development contributing $100,000. The balance of funding will be coming from the city of South Haven and Downtown Development Authority.
The city of Gaylord has been awarded $140,180 in Community Development Block Grant funds for a façade project in the heart of downtown Gaylord. The Gaylord downtown improvement project will enhance the appearance of two contributing buildings that will include renovating the existing facades to accommodate the historic character of the original spaces and will follow Gaylord’s unique alpine theme. Once completed, the project will include façade improvements such as brick cleaning, tuckpointing, the addition of stucco, stucco gables and covered entries in support of the alpine theme. The project will improve the vibrancy of downtown, enhancing the buildings making them visually appealing and economically attractive to existing and new businesses as well as visitors to the area. The project is expected to result in a total private investment of $121,500. Local funding has been set aside in the amount of $4,000 from the city of Gaylord in support of the project.
Houghton Holdings, LLC is redeveloping a vacant, three-story, historic bank building into a 17-room boutique hotel in downtown Houghton. The Vault Hotel project will activate a long-time underutilized, 14,564-square-foot, iconic space. Restoration of the building is at a high priority for the city and will directly reflect the community’s vision of cultivating downtown as the center for retail and dining, as well as historic rehabilitation of a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once completed, the project is expected to result in a total capital investment 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.
Local support for the project includes the city of Houghton deeding the company three additional covered parking spaces, valued at approximately $30,000, in addition to making adjacent parking structure and public infrastructure improvements valued at $141,000. The city of Houghton is engaged with the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.
Four 75 LLC is redeveloping a functionally obsolete building in downtown Marquette into a vibrant, mixed-use building. The vacant building is located on 0.05 acres and 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 along with the creation of approximately 15 full-time equivalent jobs. The City of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received MSF approval of a Brownfield Act 381 Work Plan including local and school tax capture for MSF eligible activities in the amount of $271,608.
Local support for the project includes the local portion of the Brownfield Tax Increment Financing estimated at $145,310. The city of Marquette is engaged with the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.
The city of Reed City has received $500,000 in CDBG funds for machinery and equipment needed for additional volume that General Mills Operations, LLC is bringing to Reed City. This initiative will generate a total private investment of $2 million and create additional jobs in the area. The CDBG funds will be used to assist with the purchase of the equipment.
General Mills is a leading global food company that serves the world by making food people love. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie's, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki, Blue and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2019 net sales of U.S. $16.9 billion. In addition, General Mills’ share of non-consolidated joint venture net sales totaled U.S. $1.0 billion.
The city of Escanaba has received $461,545 in Community Development Block Grant funds for improvements needed for the downtown improvement project in Escanaba. The project will include the exterior rehabilitation of four historically significant, multi-story buildings located on Ludington Street. When completed, the buildings will have mixed-use components and will have high-impact aesthetic improvements that will lead to additional business and pedestrian traffic. The private leverage contribution equals $536,390. The city of Escanaba is sharing predevelopment costs and third-party construction cost estimates with each building owner for their application, totaling $21,600.
Also approved at today’s Michigan Strategic Fund board meeting:
Hosler Mechanical, Inc. (dba Progressive Mechanical, Inc.) is a veteran-owned full-service mechanical, plumbing, process piping and fire protection contractor located in Ferndale that specializes in design, fabrication and installation of mechanical processing and fire protection. 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 business. Progressive Mechanical currently employs 151 people. It recently bid on and was awarded five new jobs, totaling approximately $70 million with the majority of the projects being completed by the fourth quarter of 2020. MSF is providing $1,996,000 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 located in Gladwin established in 1985. Its plastic sheets are used in hundreds of products, including shower and bath surrounds, automotive components, camper components, packaging, headliners, ATV and RV parts and accessories, hockey rinks, truck bed liners and more. Horizon Bank will provide financing to refinance the company’s existing term debt and working capital line of credit to improve overall cash flow. MSF is providing $1,369,375 in collateral support that will serve as an enhancement to the company’s $4,660,000 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 plans to grow the business and 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, and an additional eight within the next two years.
The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved $3,855,000 in grants to the Michigan Small Business Development Center as a Strategic Service Provider to fund the continuation of the Technology Consulting Services (TCS) and the Core Services programs. The TCS program is aimed at fostering high tech entrepreneurial ecosystem in Michigan through the acceleration of innovation. The Core Services program is designed to support non high-tech business startups by providing services such as business counseling, market education and grant writing assistance.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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