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| 3 min. read | By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com|

The city of Chelsea had full agenda at their Oct. 21 city council meeting.

The first item of council business was to adopt a Commercial Rehabilitation Act (CRA). This was done in conjunction with two more items on the agenda, the creation of Commercial Rehabilitation Districts at the properties formerly known as Federal Screw Works and the Rockwell Building.

Adopting the CRA ensures “that any applications submitted for a Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate will be graded and evaluated objectively and transparently.”

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Included in the policy is a scoring system for applications to help determine abatement length. Application ranking criteria in that policy includes project location, job retention, new jobs created, project value, length of vacancy, design elements, and bonus provisions at the discretion of the legislative body.

Councilmember Cheri Albertson asked how that policy was made and Community Development Director Julia Upfal responded that city staff had looked over various policies that other communities have and evaluated the cities priorities while referencing legislation.

Councilmember Jane Pacheco and Mayor Melissa Johnson also referenced a few small points pertaining to the wording they would like to be amended, something the rest of the council agreed upon before adopting the CRA policy.

The CRA encourages the rehabilitation of commercial property by abating the property taxes generated from new investment for a period of up to 10 years. Commercial property is defined as “a qualified facility that includes  a building or group of contiguous buildings of commercial property that is 15 years or older, of which the primary purpose is the operation of a commercial business enterprise or multifamily residential use.”

Federal Screws and the Rockwell building both meet that definition, and the proposed redevelopments do as well.

After passing the CRA, the city also adopted the two resolutions to create Commercial Rehabilitation Districts on the parcels of the land that formerly housed the Federal Screw Works and Rockwell Building.

Council also approved a request from city staff to submit a grant proposal for the Rockwell Building.

The potential developer for the Rockwell Building, JP Commercial Sales, had made the request to the city to submit an application for the Brownfield Redevelopment Grant to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Contributions from the city, if the grant is approved and an agreement entered into, would be in the form of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) with finals terms being in the grant agreement between EGLE, the city of Chelsea, and the developer.

City Manager John Hanifan brought up the significant investment needed in order to make the project happen.

“Whenever we can, in the past whether it was the Mack Building or the Clocktower Complex, as best we could, we diligently trying to pursue these opportunities (for funding),” said Hanifan.

A half-million-dollar grant, the property was used as a single-family residential unit until 1909 when the Chelsea Stove and Manufacturing Company built an industrial complex in the area that included a manufacturing warehouse on the property.

Mayor Melissa Johnson also asked if more financial details would be forthcoming; Hanifan responded that staff has reviewed initial pro forma details, that they would be meeting with council and the DDA in the near future, and that this was just an initial screening into securing some funds for the project.

“We’re comfortable with the level of information at this point, knowing there’s a lot more forthcoming,” said Hanifan.

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