Photo by Dean Vaglia
| Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published July 21, 2023
Photo by Dean Vaglia
MOUNT CLEMENS — Once a motel and long since an eyesore, a deal between the city and a developer would double the residential space in downtown Mount Clemens.
City commissioners approved an agreement between the city and Shelby Township-based developer Jim George, working under the name Manchester Mt. Clemens, LLC, on July 10 to demolish the former Victory Inn at 1 North River Road and build a 100-unit market-rate apartment complex on the site.
“There was some discussion about it, but everyone was in agreement that it was a great project,” Mount Clemens Mayor Laura Kropp said of the July 10 special city commission meeting. “It is minimal risk to the city because we’re just managing the funds from the state to the developer that the state has designated for that project. The city’s role is minimal.”
The agreement hinges on the city receiving a $5 million enhancement grant for the state to reimburse the developer for the estimated $2.75 million purchase of the site and for the cost of demolition, environmental remediation and construction. While Kropp says the developer plans to begin work on the site immediately, the city will receive the site for $1 if work does not begin on the site within three years.
“The developer is a reputable developer in the tri-county area, and he approached our state delegation … and then he approached the city about the project,” Kropp said. “He discussed with all of us the challenges about that site and how it’s been a long-term problem for the city. He knew that there were economic development dollars out there at the state level, so he gathered a team to go after money at the state level to bridge the gap of the costs of this project.”
When the project is complete, it will double the residential capacity in downtown Mount Clemens, which Kropp sees as a way to further the city’s revitalization.
“We need more people to be able to support the businesses downtown, but we’ve also had significant population loss in the last 30 years,” Kropp said. “This is going to try and right that ship.”
Other revitalization efforts in recent years include the city’s rebrand, the creation and continued support for the Oasis social district and redirecting the Downtown Development Authority’s focus to supporting city businesses. Another way the project helps the city is by providing taxable property in an area where such land is sparse.
“The challenge that lies within Mount Clemens is that we are the county seat and that we have such a strong concentration of nontaxable properties,” Kropp said. “Forty-eight percent of our land is already nontaxable.”
Two other projects are in the works to expand downtown Mount Clemens’ residential footprint. In the same week as the Victory Inn site deal was reached, city and state officials met by banks of the Clinton River to tour the under-construction Edison Crossing supportive residences on July 12.
“During the last few years, we have seen a true housing crisis in Michigan,” said Gary Heidel, chief of staff of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. “We have a lot of needs for more affordable housing in a long spectrum whether it’s affordable housing, workforce housing, housing for the homeless, housing for people with disabilities. It’s been something that really came out of the great recession when we really stopped investing in housing. … When we build new it really does help the supply problem.”
The 30-apartment complex is aimed at housing seniors, single adults and families. Veterans and the homeless are being reached out to for interest, with 11 rooms set aside for veterans. The building is fully accessible with a stretcher-compliant elevator.
While much of the building is up, the Gratiot Avenue apartment complex still has a while to go before it’s ready for occupants. Construction is expected to end by mid-August and the building should open in October.
On the other side of the Gratiot loop, the city and the Anton Art Center are working to build a 39-unit live-work facility for artists with nonprofit developer Artspace. The Roskopp parking lot is the tentative site as of a May 15 negotiation agreement. Kropp said the city is “still in current talks” with Artspace regarding the project.
The Artspace project will be eligible for federal low-income tax credits.