By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Social Security Administration officials are seeking a commercial facilities tax exemption for branch office being proposed at 3450 Biddle.
The SSA currently uses an 8,000-square-foot building in the city to serve residents eligible for Social Security Disability insurance, retirement benefits, survivor insurance, supplemental security income and Medicare.
The proposed branch would be a one-story, 10,700-square-foot brick office building on 1.58 acres. The plans allow for a 1,500-square-foot expansion to the rear of the new building.
According to commercial exemption certificate paperwork, an estimated $850,000 will be spent to redevelop the site of the former River Point Electric Supply Co. No taxes currently are being collect on the current building, a light industrial warehouse, which has been vacant for five years and will be torn down. Commercial facility exemptions are granted through the state of Michigan, but are subject to approval by local governments, which in this case would be the Wyandotte City Council. State guidelines say that for new or replacement facilities, property taxes are based upon the current year’s taxable value and 50 percent of the mills levied. Full taxes would be paid on the land portion, however.
The amount of money the SSA would save through the exemption still is in question. The state typically offers 12-year exemption, but the length of each exemption is subject to mayoral and council approval.
Mayor Joseph Peterson and the council received a request from the Monroe Bank & Trust Feb. 8 for a commercial facilities exemption for the new office, which would be built in the city’s downtown revitalization district.
The council established a commercial redevelopment district specifically for the property Jan. 25, but still must decide the duration of the exemption.
Officials estimate that 28 permanent jobs will be retained by the new use, and that five new jobs may be created in the next one to three years. About 15 temporary construction jobs also will be created.
The new site will add 37 parking spaces in a newly constructed asphalt parking lot, with irrigated landscaping and an earth berm to screen residential neighbors on the west and site lighting.
Officials say construction was scheduled to begin upon approval of the commercial redevelopment district status, and should be finished by Oct. 31.
The request is consistent with the goals and objectives city officials have identified to revitalize their downtown.
The city’s strategic plan through 2015 identifies a commitment to an economic development strategy that encourages commercial expansion in the area.
Replacing the empty building also eliminates potential downtown blight, officials say, adding that it also is consistent with the city’s master plan for the central business district — and the Downtown Development Authority area — by providing commercial square footage in a concentrated area conducive to walk-in business.
The new building also lies along the Biddle corridor, not far from Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.