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Escanaba hotel plan moves forward

ESCANABA — The Escanaba Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved a plan for the redevelopment of the former Delta County Jail site Thursday morning. The plan now heads to the city council for final approval.

The Illinois-based Proxima Management Group is seeking approval for more than $7.9 million worth of brownfield-eligible activities on the multi-parcel development area through a brownfield redevelopment plan, also known as a “381 plan” after the public act establishing the rules for brownfield developments in Michigan. If approved by the city council, the taxes that normally would be collected on the property as its value increases would be captured and reimbursed to pay for the actual expenses of items included in the plan, for a period not to exceed 30 years, through a process called tax incremental financing (TIF).

Promixa intends to build a $13 million hotel, a $5 million mixed-use retail and residential building, and a $5 million townhouse development on the site of the old jail and adjacent parcels, including the parcel occupied by the old Delta County Chamber of Commerce building, which Promixa is working to purchase. Brownfield eligible activities include things like asbestos removal and site contamination testing, which can become costly for developers but are necessary for public health and safety.

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting, which was held at the Escanaba Marketplace, included only one item, a public hearing on and approval of the plan. The only person to speak during the hearing was Ed Legault, executive director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance and former executive director of the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority.

“I just want to make a comment that I think this project has been a long time coming. It’s been in the master plan for Escanaba for many, many years. It’s property in Escanaba that’s not being properly utilized. This is the type of hub catalyst that will help not only downtown Escanaba and the city of Escanaba, but probably all of Delta County,” said Legault.

Following the hearing, the authority board voted unanimously to approve the plan as presented and recommend it to the council.

“Thank you very much, we’re excited about the opportunities to move forward and it’s going to be a big and complex project, but we’re very excited to be able to move forward, so that you for your consideration,” said Mac McClelland, manager of brownfield redevelopment for Otwell Mawby, P.C., who is representing Proxima for the project, following the authority’s vote.

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