Plan would rejuvenate residential areas downtown

Sunday Times Newspapers


WYANDOTTE — City officials are working toward bringing more residential housing into its downtown area.


Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Brandon Wescott submitted a proposal to the City Council on Monday from SMOOTH Development to establish a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone for the area between Eureka and Oak.


The Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Program, established in 2008 by amending Public Act 147, provides a tax incentive for developing and rehabilitating residential housing.


The idea, Wescott said, is to spur the development and rehabilitation of residential housing in communities where it might not otherwise occur. The zones are a chance for residents to take advantage of a recent change in the NEZ law, which now allows abatements to be used for rehabilitated residential dwellings.


That, in turn, will allow for the development, rehabilitation and homestead exception of residential housing in the downtown area.


The abatements can be used for rehabilitated residential dwellings, either rented or owner occupied, that exist over a first-floor retail establishment of the downtown revitalization district.


Establishment of the NEZ district also will allow newly constructed residential dwellings to be eligible as well.


“As a matter of public policy, residential living space in the downtown area is an important component to a vibrant shopping district,” Wescott said. “It is the city’s intention that providing NEZ tax incentives will encourage existing property owners to utilize their nonstreet house space in this regard.”


The SMOOTH proposal is the first of many projects Wescott wanted to institute when he took the position of DDA director over a month ago.


If the downtown area is changed to an NEZ, the tax exemptions won’t become effective until approved by the state Tax Commission.