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GRDadof3

State Street "Heritage Square" seeks NEZ Designation

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Before the city next week is a request by the Heritage Hill Association and Stratus Properties to have "Heritage Square", or State Street roughly bounded by Cherry, Washington and Madison, designated a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone. NEZ status gives property tax abatements for new construction and renovations, many times freezing the property taxes at "pre-rehab" rates. There are 3 zones currently in Grand Rapids: Belknap Lookout, North Baxter and Turner Gateway. It not only helps with new developments, but gives current property owners the ability to make much needed improvements to the area while not getting immediately hit with higher assessments.

City Commission agenda page 246

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City of GR NEZ Information

As stated in the application:

The Heritage Hill Association is often seen as a first choice neighborhood, but State Street has a long-standing bad reputation due to criminal activity such as drug-dealing, assaults, disturbances, pan-handling, loitering and other anti-social activities that the vacancies and divestment foster.

Stratus Properties is in process of investing $4.5 Million into the renovation and addition of two floors to 345 State St, discussed here previously.

What do you guys think of the proposal?

The HH Association and Stratus may want to approach the DDA and see if they can be included in the new proposed boundary expansion. May make it easier to get on the streetscape enhancement list. Right now the proposed expansion stops at Lafayette.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2171/155224...be6ff0138_o.jpg

That is also being discussed at the City Commission meeting.

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I think this is a great idea. The area needs some improvements in terms of cleanup.

The area has potential but it seems like it's on the periphery still.

A few years ago, myself and a few business partners were considering opening a business (cafe type place) in the area but it did not feel right at the time.

We did not get a great business vibe at the time

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Renovating 345 State and any other buildings in that block would be great, but I think filling vacancies would have only a limited impact on the 'pan-handling/loitering' element outlined in the HH proposal. Clark's 'Grocery' is largely responsible for attracting that crowd. I don't think tax breaks are going to be enough to convince the current owners to improve their store. Unless someone else buys and converts it into something more than a glorified corner liquor store, the character of the east end of State Street will be hard to change. If someone could convert that store, I could easily see that block transforming in the same way the 900 block of Cherry has recently. State has tons of potential charm; brick road, bookend green-spaces, and some nice older buildings. The regular traffic from downtown to Heritage Hill should make it appealing to retailers.

The old Public Museum isn't included in this zone, but it would be nice to see that converted to something more than a storage facility too. It's a good looking building, and could be used to attract people from Fulton to State.

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There are 3 zones currently in Grand Rapids: Belknap Lookout, North Baxter and Turner Gateway.

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I'm aware of Belknap Lookout, but not North Baxter or Turner Gateway. Have these areas improved since being designated as NEZs, and how long have they had this designation?

State Street seems for forgotten, I lived here for months before I found it. I hope it is revived to become a destination for Heritage Hill neighbors.

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Not to change the subject, but I think liquor stores have similar effect to casinos. By themselves they're not terrible, most people don't have any problems with gambling or drinking per se, but at their worst they exploit the most vulnerable. That's what Clark's and any number of other liquor stores in the area do. Let's throw payday loan places on the list too.

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