City closer to signing lease with new tenants

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta

James Sabo, executive director of the Allen Park Downtown Development Authority, updates the City Council Oct. 27 on the five-year, $2 million unsecured loan to the Lifton Institute for Media Skills for capital improvements.

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – City officials are moving closer to signing a final lease on properties acquired by the city with a yet-to-be-named tenant client.

City Council reconvened after a closed session Tuesday for a unanimous public vote to approve a lease agreement with a company discussed in executive session and protected by attorney-client privilege.

The motion by Councilman Felice Lalli, supported by Councilwoman Beverly Kelley, allows Mayor Gary Burtka and the council to approve the lease agreement pending final review by legal counsel. It also authorized Burtka and City Clerk Michael Mizzi to sign the final lease.

Burtka said Tuesday that the new closing date on property acquired by the city would be Nov. 12, not Nov. 10 as announced in earlier published reports, and that the name of the new tenant can be announced then.

The council on Tuesday meeting also set a public hearing date for the bonds for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10, the same date as the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Members awarded bids to PNC Capital Markets for two sets of bonds, which have an interest cost of 7.3 percent and 6 percent. The latter set can’t be received officially until after the hearing.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and other officials approved $3 million in recovery zone bonds. City officials noted that in a recorded speech during the Unity Studios groundbreaking Ficano announced that $12 million would be approved, but said they were reluctant to voice their disappointment over the lower amount too vocally because they want to make sure they receive the $3 million in bonds that were approved.

In other council news, Burtka also announced the city has received grant money to redesign two intersections in the spring: $100,000 for Manor and Allen Road and $200,000 for Reeck and Allen.

Downtown Development Authority Executive Director James Sabo updated the council on the five-year, $2 million unsecured loan for 6 percent to the Lifton Institute for Media Skills for capital improvements.

Sabo also discussed the authority’s 50 percent facade match grant fund, which enables businesses to increase their property values. Businesses can get a maximum grant of $50,000 per facade, but can get separate grants for both the front and back of their businesses.

Three new businesses are going into the Harmon Glass building, 7100 Allen Road, he said, among them a pizzeria and a bowling equipment store.

“We know there is some risk involved,” Sabo said in response to concerns about the DDA’s investment in the Unity Studios and Lifton Institute projects. “If the studio can get growth going … it will have a ripple effect… a rolling ball, snowball effect … (which will lead to) positive economic growth.”

“We have new businesses coming into town because of the studio,” Burtka added. He went on to say that the first three payments are in the bank, and that the school (the Lifton Institute) opened on time on Monday. He also added that the first movie will start shooting this month.

Councilman Frank Tucci asked if other businesses will be able to get 6 percent loans from the DDA. Sabo conceded that the authority is breaking new ground.

“The DDA is in a better position than some banks to support local construction projects,” Sabo said. “The DDA is investing in itself when it makes loans of this nature.”

Fire Chief Mark Hogrebe said his department has received a $117,500 federal grant, contingent upon 10 percent matching budget funds, for an additional defibrillator. The device would make Allen Park the first Downriver department to send telemetry to doctors when a patient is in the field or being transported so that doctors can read output and decide if a patient should go to the catheterization lab or to an emergency room for stabilization.

The council unanimously approved the 10 percent matching money, which comes to $11,750.

Hogrebe said the save rate for heart attacks nationwide is 3 percent, and that Allen Park’s new equipment gives it a 40 percent save rate. He also said the matching funds approved by the council all were donated and not from the current department budget.