Plan approved to redevelop building

Depicted is a rendering of the historic Anderson Building on Main Street in Ishpeming as it is expected to appear after it is redeveloped. The Ishpeming City Council approved a brownfield plan to allow West Ishpeming Sands LLC to recoup just under $500,000 of its investment in the project over time. (Image courtesy of Barry Polzin)

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council unanimously approved a brownfield plan that will help the developer of the Anderson Building on Main Street.

The Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Act authorizes municipalities to create a brownfield redevelopment authority to promote the revitalization, redevelopment and reuse of contaminated, blighted, functionally obsolete or historic property through tax-increment financing of eligible activities approved in a brownfield plan.

The iconic 12,000-square foot late Victorian building constructed by a wealthy Swedish family in 1891 was purchased in March 2017 by West Ishpeming Sands LLC.

Marquette County Treasurer and member of the Marquette County Brownfield Authority Anne Giroux said the property is being taxed at just under $30,000 and with the renovation, that taxable value is expected to go up to around $600,000. The brownfield plan would allow the increment, or difference between the taxable values, to be captured to reimburse the developer for eligible expenses.

“They would get reimbursed for over a period of time,” Giroux said. “The estimated timeframe of this plan is 18 years, there is a period of time where the Brownfield Authority will capture up to five years in these plans to put into a local site revolving fund for supporting brownfield activity in the future.”

Giroux said the building is in the Downtown Development District, and the DDA entered into an inter-local agreement with the MCBA last month.

Giroux said there is a lot of infrastructure work that is considered to be eligible under the Brownfield Act.

“There are some extensions of utilities that they are going to need to do, interior demo is an eligible expense,” Giroux said. “They have a purchase agreement to acquire the vacant Hickey’s Bar parcel, there is some debris that they would need to remove, that is an eligible expense. Any asbestos abatement, lead abatement, that’s all eligible expenses.”

Giroux said approval for the plan is just the first step in what could be a lengthy process because of the challenge of redeveloping a historic building in a market like Ishpeming.

“I still wanted to point out that there are still funding gaps in this project,” Giroux said. “These projects really take a layering of incentives to pull off. This is just one layer in the incentives that they are attempting to get — it’s needed to show local support so the next step they are going through the process with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to find out what incentives the MEDC is going to put on the table. They are already going after historic tax credits as well. All of that takes time.”

The brownfield plan will go before the Marquette County Board for its approval in April.