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Monday, October 4,2010

Talking tax breaks

The Lansing City Council will hold four public hearings at tonight’s meeting on tax incentives for various redevelopment projects. The Council will also vote on bonds for a new service garage

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Oct. 4 — Tax incentives for three proposed redevelopment projects expected to bring jobs and rehabilitate contaminated property in the city will be discussed at tonight’s Lansing City Council meeting.

Two public hearings are clumped together on Jet Engineering’s proposed expansion at its facility near the intersection of Jolly and Aurelius roads in south Lansing. Jet makes precision parts for planes at its 15,000-square-foot facility, which the company is looking to nearly double in size with an expanded building and new equipment.

Both the expanded building (real property) and new equipment (personal property), estimated at about $5.5 million, would be subject to tax breaks that would last 12 years.

The first public hearing is on establishing an Industrial Development District for the property at 5190 Jet Drive in south Lansing, which is required before applying for the tax abatement itself.

If it receives the tax break, Jet hopes to complete the expansion within two years. It estimates it would be able to add 70 permanent, full-time jobs to its staff of 390.

A third public hearing is scheduled on an expanded brownfield redevelopment plan for Pat Gillespie’s Marshall Street Armory redevelopment in the eastside neighborhood. An original 18-year tax incentive was passed in June, but developers are looking for a two-year extension on that due to a $1 million increase in project costs.

The 41,648-square-foot building sits on 4.5 acres of contaminated property near Lansing Catholic Central High School and Pattengill Middle School. The soil was found to have excessive levels of arsenic, mercury and selenium, while groundwater samples have high levels of arsenic, copper, barium, lead and silver. A brownfield redevelopment plan gives tax incentives to clear this type of contamination.

The plan is estimated to create 85 to 100 short-term construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs by renovating the inside and outside of the Armory. Gillespie plans to start a “vibrant,” consolidated hub for regional nonprofits to share resources under one roof. The property has been vacant since 2006.

A final public hearing is scheduled on another of Gillespie’s projects, the Marketplace project near the City Market. It too is for a brownfield redevelopment plan that would span 24 years and reimburse Gillespie over that time for paying upfront costs to clean the site.

The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has approved both of Gillespie’s projects.

In other business, the only scheduled vote on tonight’s agenda is on a resolution to buy $3.2 million in bonds with money from the general fund for a consolidated service garage for city-owned vehicles. Plans to consolidate the two current garages have been underway for several years and are part of the FY 2011 budget.

The resolution issues a notice of intent to use the bonds, which city Finance Director Jerry Ambrose has said comes with attractive interest rates as part of the federal stimulus program. If the resolution passes, there will be a 45-day referendum period, meaning that if at least 10 percent of registered voters petition against the plan, it will go up for a public vote.

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