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Monday, July 1,2013

Tax incentive for Temple Club may be revoked

Due to missed project deadlines, the Lansing City Council is being asked to revoke Obsolete Property Rehabilitation exemption for Temple Club redevelopment

by Andy Balaskovitz
Eric Finkler/City Pulse

This story was updated on Monday July 1 to include comments from LEAP President and CEO Bob Trezise.


Monday, July 1 — Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership are asking the City Council to revoke a 12-year tax incentive for the Temple Club redevelopment project in Old Town because developers have missed completion deadlines.


The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate, set to expire Dec. 20, 2022, freezes the taxable value of a property’s structure, but not the land, once it’s approved. The idea is that property owners “pay real estate taxes as if the newly rehabbed building is still in disrepair,” according to the Lansing Economic Development Corp.


Alan Hooper, one of three partners behind Old Town Temple LLC, said the plan for a startup restaurant and bar in the Temple Club, 502 E. Grand River Ave., should have been finished by now, but it isn’t because of the slow lending market. Hooper said it’s “definitely still our intent to do a project there,” but he couldn’t say when it will be done.


“We have been unable to get financing for the project we initially intended,” Hooper said today. “We still want to get the project done.”


A pending resolution before the Council says: “An internal yearly audit conducted by the Lansing Economic Development Corporation has determined that Old Town Temple, LLC has not completed the project as required by the Agreement.”


The resolution is on tonight’s meeting schedule, where it will likely be referred to a Council committee and later up for approval.


Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP, said the project was 18 months beyond when it was supposed to be completed. He said LEAP does annual audits of projects that have received tax incentives to see if they’re keeping pace with development agreements.


“It’s gone quite a while beyond the timelines that were required,” Trezise said. “We had a continuous conversation and interaction with the building owners, it just didn’t seem like there was progress. We hate doing this.”


Hooper said “incidentally,” the taxable value of the property has actually decreased since the Council approved the OPRA in 2010. He “wouldn’t rule out” going back to the Council for another incentive once financing was secured.


Hooper, along with Sam Short and Aaron Matthews, is part of the same development team that reopened Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern one block east of the Temple two weeks ago.


“We weren’t able to do the larger project at the Temple Club, so we did a smaller project with Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern,” Hooper said. “We’re hoping that may be a start to be able to develop some financials in the business.”


Trezise said he hopes that’s the case: “I’m rooting for Al Hooper and the Temple Club.”

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