By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – The City Council approved a resolution Jan. 7 to take an active role in the redevelopment of the soon-to-be-vacant Sears Plaza, opting to take the lead in future development.
Councilmen Larry Kelsey and Thomas Parkinson opposed the resolution, questioning why the city should spend its money to generate proposals for the property owners.
The resolution, which passed, calls for $15,000 to be contracted with Beckett and Raeder, an Ann Arbor landscape architecture planning, engineering and environmental services company, to produce a redevelopment guide for the Lincoln Park Shopping Center and Quandt Park. Half of the cost could be reimbursed through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Program.
The project will include an architect site visit, a review of all existing documents and site information in the city’s possession and a summary of existing conditions, including the demographic data, zoning, utilities and the site’s regional context.
Beckett and Raeder also will provide preliminary conceptual materials and meet with city officials for review and feedback before submitting its deliverable.
Mayor Thomas Karnes said by taking an active role in the redevelopment, the city is helping to ensure that the site thrives and contributes to the city’s tax base.
City Manager Matt Coppler said that by taking the lead in the intiative, city officials are helping ensure the best taxable development.
Coppler said city staff have been in discussions with the owners regarding the redevelopment of the property, and while the owners are interested in redevelopment, Coppler said a coordinated development plan will help ensure the land’s potential is maximized in a manner which best benefits the city.
“The corner of Southfield and Dix represents one of the largest potential development sites for the city of Lincoln Park,” Coppler said in his Jan. 1 written proposal to the mayor and council members. “Currently these sites have a taxable value in the neighborhood of $5.5 million.
“Property redevelopment would not only potentially bring in more tax dollars, but also could spur redevelopment up and down these two major corridors of the city.”
Coppler said the city’s participation in the MEDC’s Development Ready Program renders the city eligible for funding for future planning projects, up to a 50 percent funding level. He said MEDC has three planning consultants pre-qualified to undertake such planning, and Beckett and Raeder is one. Coppler said the $7,500 balance of the cost is available in the 2018-19 fiscal year city budget.
Coppler said putting a new courthouse and police department on the site would prevent those sections of land from being taxed, despite the advantage of plentiful parking.
The Sears site can be redeveloped without impacting Quandt Park, Coppler said, although the site will not be overlooked in future city development plans.
Kelsey called for a commitment from the owners to pay for development plans instead of the city.
Coppler said that the owners are willing to work with the city on planning the site’s future.
“Laying out what we want is a lot better,” Coppler said.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])