CADILLAC — The southern half of the Cadillac Lofts site at the intersection of Mitchell and Cass streets is a bit of a mess right now.
Chunks of concrete, wooden pallets, steel wires and other debris are scattered across what used to be an Oleson’s grocery store and parking lot.
The old G and D Pizza Party Store building still remains, although it’s been vacant for so long that weeds have grown up through the pavement in front of the entrance and at this point stand a couple of feet tall.
On the northern side of the block, the difference couldn’t be more stark: the bustling four-story Cadillac Lofts building gleams in comparison to the shabby southern side, with tenants filling rooms in the upper three floors, and a Jimmy Johns sandwich shop doing brisk business on the bottom floor.
Adjacent to the Jimmy Johns, crews are in the midst of building out a Papa John’s pizzeria, which owners hope to have done by November. Space remains on the bottom floor for at least one more commercial tenant to set up shop.
Residential occupants began moving into the Cadillac Lofts in 2020 shortly after building construction was finished. Jimmy Johns also opened shortly after the building was finished.
Funding for the Lofts has come from a variety of sources, including a bank loan obtained by project developer Michigan Community Capital and state dollars. Local dollars are coming from a tax capture mechanism called a brownfield.
In the initial funding plan for the first phase of the project, the state agreed to cover $346,465 and the city agreed to cover $493,890, with the remaining costs of the project expected to be covered by a Community Development Block Grant award.
As a result of the city’s population no longer being considered at least 51% low/moderate income, however, the project no longer qualified for the Block Grant award.
In order to be deemed a low-to-moderate income community once again, the city had to hire a certified institution to conduct a survey of the community.
The survey couldn’t be done last year, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result the city council had to approve a brownfield plan to pay for $913,067 in infrastructure improvements around the block.
Through the brownfield plan, taxes collected on the property above its original taxable rate (before the Lofts was built) are used solely to pay for project costs over the next 21 years.
“It’s money that otherwise, neither one of us would have had access to,” City Manager Marcus Peccia told the Cadillac News at the time the brownfield plan was finalized by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Strategic Fund Board.
In February, council agreed to hire Lake Superior State University to conduct the income study and after the results came back this summer, the city was deemed once again to be considered low-to-moderate income.
Peccia said with the city once again in the low-to-moderate income category, they may be eligible for grant funding to help them cover some costs associated with the second phase of the Cadillac Lofts project, which entails demolition of the G and D building and construction of another L-shaped building on the south end of the block.
“We will be looking to utilize that program to help fund infrastructure work and any other costs that are eligible,” Peccia said.
The extent of infrastructure work on the second phase of the project will be similar to the first phase, Peccia said, including updating streetscape, sidewalk and lighting features on Chapin Street and adding parking spaces along the block.
The costs associated with the second phase, however, might be higher than the first due to material supply chain disruptions and labor shortages in the construction industry brought on by the COVID pandemic.
“The world has changed,” Peccia said.
The last he heard from developers, Peccia said the plan was to demolish the G and D building and begin sitework before the end of this year.
Dean DeKryger, project engineer with The DK Design Group, said that is his understanding, as well, and added that actual construction of the second four-story building is slotted to begin in mid-summer of 2022.
The Cadillac News reached out to Michigan Community Capital for additional details of the plan moving forward but did not hear back by press time.