Scio Township is exploring making 300 N. Zeeb Road a Commercial Rehabilitation District

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Here's a look at 300 N. Zeeb Road. Image was part of the presentation given by planners from MI-HQ.

The new owners of 300 N. Zeeb Road, which was the former headquarters for University Microfilms, Inc., are hoping Scio Township designates their facility as a Commercial Rehabilitation District.

The purpose of the district would be to help with the rehab of this long vacant site that has contamination and requires asbestos abatement for renovation. Some of the early steps toward doing this were taken by the Scio Township Board at the Jan. 24 board meeting, where a public hearing was held on the topic.

However, there’s still work to do before any official vote and designation is made. One thing that would need to be in place is a policy for this type of district.

The Sun Times News followed up with township supervisor Will Hathaway.

“The township decided that we needed to do more work on a commercial rehabilitation policy before we approved a commercial rehab district,” Hathaway said. “We held the public hearing, but did not take action other than accepting Trustee Brazeau's offer to take the lead in working with the applicants, Mark and Linda Smith. The Smith's are the new owners of 300 N. Zeeb Road.”

The Smiths are representing MI-HQ, which describes itself as a high-energy, cooperative entrepreneurial community.

Hathaway said a commercial rehabilitation district “is an economic development tool available to local governments.”

“It allows local governments to support the renovation and rejuvenation of old commercial/industrial buildings that have fallen into disuse,” he said. “We don't have many such buildings in Scio Township, but the facility at 300 N. Zeeb Road does qualify under the criteria established by the State of Michigan in Public Act 210.”

According to a FAQ provided to the township by Ann Arbor SPARK, “the Commercial Rehabilitation Act, PA 210 of 2005, MCL 207.841 et seq., as amended, provides a property tax exemption for multifamily residential, commercial business enterprises, or qualified retail food establishments that are rehabilitated and meet the requirements of the Act. Types of commercial business enterprises may include, but are not limited to: office, engineering, research and development, warehousing, parts distribution, retail sales, and other commercial activities…Exemptions are approved for a term of 1-10 years as determined by the local unit of government. The property taxes are based on the previous year’s, which is the year prior to the rehabilitation, taxable value. The taxable value is frozen for the duration of the exemption. Completed applications are sent to the local governmental unit for review and approval.”

The plan for 300 N. Zeeb, “would consist of complete rehabilitation of the existing building intended for occupancy by companies in the high-tech industries. The main building on the site has been vacant for around 12 years due in part to functional obsolescence. Current building configuration does not meet market demands. Moreover, the site is contaminated and requires asbestos abatement for renovation. The total estimated cost of Brownfield conditions associated with the redevelopment is $2.7 million. MI-HQ's redevelopment plans include a complete interior strip-out, followed by a building reconfiguration to support office, R&D and pilot scale manufacturing of several different green tech, life science and microelectronics products.”

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