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Monday, October 25,2010

Cash for Knapp's?

The Lansing City Council votes tonight on tax incentives for developers of the Knapp’s building downtown

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Oct. 25 — The Lansing City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on a $22.5 million tax incentive plan for the $36.4 million effort to redevelop the Knapp’s building downtown.

Another $2 million from a Brownfield Economic Development Initiative grant was originally part of the brownfield plan, but that was pulled from the Council agenda last week because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has not released a formal call for applications on it, said Karl Dorshimer, vice president of the Lansing Economic Development Corp.

Bob Trezise, president of the LEDC, has said the grant application will come back in “a month or two.” The grant would be used to pay off a $5.4 million federal Section 108 loan for the first seven years of the project, and then the Eyde Co., which owns the building, will pay the rest.

Trezise called today a “drop dead date” for approving the city’s brownfield Michigan Business Tax credit, which expires Dec. 31, at last week’s City Council meeting. He said the sole purpose of drafting a brownfield plan is to qualify for the $4.9 million credit, which is worth 20 percent of the overall plan.

This brownfield differs from most because the building is also located in a Renaissance Zone, which automatically frees property owners from paying state and local property taxes for 12 years. That would save about $2.6 million.

Also included in the plan is $10 million worth of state and federal tax credits for fixing up a historic building and $5 million in federal “new market” tax credits.

There is a second public hearing scheduled at 7 tonight on the Knapp’s brownfield plan before the Council makes a vote on it. Last week’s public hearing was overshadowed by Pat Gillespie’s Market Place project. A representative from the Eyde Co. was the only one to speak on it.

Knapp’s is the only scheduled public hearing tonight.

Knapp’s, at 300 S. Washington Square, would become a mix of commercial and residential space. The roughly 140,000 square-foot building has been vacant since 2003. The Christman Co. completed the current version of the Knapp’s building in 1939. The Eyde Co. bought the building in 1982, converting most of it to office and retail use.

If the brownfield approval process goes according to plan, construction is slated to begin by the spring.

In other scheduled business, the Council will vote on a resolution to sell a Department of Parks and Recreation field office at 717 E. Shiawassee St. to Neogen Corp., which wants to use it to expand its facilities. The Planning Board unanimously approved the recommendation to allow Neogen to buy the building for $200,000 in May.

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