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Former La-Z-Boy site land transfer OKed

A land swap between City of Monroe and Frenchtown Township has been approved; the goal is to redevelop the Telegraph Road property where La-Z-Boy’s headquarters once stood.

The Monroe City Council unanimously approved a land transfer agreement Monday that allows the city to move forward on a planned redevelopment of the former La-Z-Boy Incorporated headquarters.

Per the Public Act 425 agreement, the city will obtain authority over 8.13 acres of the site off N. Telegraph Rd. that was previously under Frenchtown Township’s jurisdiction. Frenchtown will retain authority over .992 acre in two parcels to the north of the property and they also receive the section of the Quality Inn site at 1225 N. Dixie Hwy that was previously under the city’s jurisdiction.

Mark Cochran, assistant to the city manager and economic development coordinator, explained this agreement allows the city to streamline redevelopment of the La- Z- Boy site.

″(A developer) only has to deal with one building department, one zoning department,” Cochran said. “They only have to pay taxes to one entity.”

The land transfer was approved unanimously by the Frenchtown Township Board July 23.

The city council unanimously approved the agreement at Monday’s meeting after reviewing Cochran’s presentation on the project during a work session earlier that night.

“Glad to see that step one is finally finished,” said Councilman Brian Lamour. “We have a long way to go, but a very important step in the redevelopment is complete.”

The council is expected to review the land conveyance agreement between the city and La-Z-Boy during the next regular meeting Aug. 19. Assuming the city approves that agreement, they will own the entire 26.024-acre site despite Frenchtown retaining authority over its two parcels.

At that same meeting, Cochran also plans to present to council the developer agreement between the city and Great Lakes Opportunity Fund LLC, which is committed to investing at least $16 million in a multi- phase redevelopment of the entire site.

Cochran said this developer is committed to the “spirit and intent” of the subarea plan the city developed for the site. The city will convey the property to Great Lakes Opportunity Fund in phases, with phase one including $2 million in public infrastructure work that will be paid for by the developer.

The council has been reviewing how to best redevelop the former La-Z-Boy headquarters for several years, commissioning the subarea plan as well as a Telegraph Road Corridor Improvement Plan that identified the site as one of several key redevelopment zones along the corridor.

The council also nominated the property as an opportunity zone under the federal government’s 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.

″The redevelopment of the La-Z-Boy site is really going to define what the character of the Telegraph Corridor is going to look like over the next several decades,” Cochran said. “When we look at the amount of green space we’d like to have on Telegraph Rd., the multi- use trail system we’re trying to build along Telegraph Rd. that makes it friendly for bikes, pedestrians, automobiles and public transit … How the former La-Z-Boy site gets redeveloped is going to be integral into how we implement the Telegraph Road Corridor Improvement Plan.”

An appraisal of the site valued it at $2,080,000 as it currently sits. The city estimates at least $2 million in total demolition cost, which includes $1,135,000 in pre-demolition and environmental remediation costs.

Cochran said the city has been approved for a Pre-Demolition Hazardous Materials Abatement Loan from the Downriver Community Conference Brownfield Consortium and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rest of the demolition cost will be paid for using brownfield bonds, with the city reimbursing itself for the total demolition cost using Brownfield Tax Increment Financing (TIF).

“In the end, the only thing the city is not going to be reimbursed for is the cost of that subarea plan,” Cochran said. “We get knocked quite a bit for doing studies and doing plans, but this is why we do them. If we hadn’t done the subarea plan and shown what we thought was the highest and best use of the site, it wouldn’t have attracted a developer like it has.

“The return on investment for that $60,000 plan is a $16 million investment, when it comes down to it. We come out pretty well.”


Posted By: The Monroe News on August 7, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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