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Developer plans $1.3 million renovation of Main Street buildings

GAYLORD — A developer is planning a large-scale renovation of almost an entire block of Main Street and may get a tax break from the city to assist with the project.

Developer Gary Scott, a Gaylord native, and his business partners own a number buildings in the downtown area, including those home to Coney Island Cafe, Fifth Third Bank, Saturn Booksellers, Michigan Maple Works and others, as well as Gaylord’s iconic clock tower and Phoenix Building, all on the southern 100 block of West Main Street between Center and Court avenues.

Scott, who’s also renovating the James Quick House on North Center Avenue as restaurant and office space, maintains a taste for Gaylord’s history while helping breathing new life into his hometown.

“Our goal is to rejuvenate a block that’s a considerable part of downtown,” Scott said Friday, touching on plans to include a tribute to Harold Elgas, Gaylord State Bank owner and champion of Gaylord’s Alpine theme in the 1960s, in the renovation.

He said most of the businesses already on that block are planning to stay put, but new office, retail and restaurant spaces are in the works.

City Manager Joe Duff said Scott’s plans include $1.3 million in renovations between three properties alone – the tower building (127 W. Main), Saturn Booksellers (133 W. Main) and the Phoenix building (145 W. Main).

A proposed commercial redevelopment district would freeze the taxable values of those properties for up to 10 years and exempt new investment from local taxes as an incentive for the developer. Such a district could be set by City Council under new policies created last month under Michigan’s 2005 “Commercial Rehabilitation Act.”

“We think any kind of exemption should happen only if they create jobs and a certain level of investment in our community,” Duff said.

Duff said similar tax breaks were granted to developers of the former Carter’s and Kmart buildings, now home to state offices and Jay’s Sporting Goods, respectively. Each of those properties underwent more than $1 million in renovations, he said.

Since Scott’s development lies within Gaylord’s downtown development district, taxes are captured by the Downtown Development Authority. The DDA supports the city’s commercial-redevelopment policy, Duff said.

The policy requires a public hearing to create the special district and a hearing has been set for 7 p.m. Monday, March 27, during the next regular meeting of city council at Gaylord City Hall, 305 E. Main St.

Once created, the Otsego County Board of Commissioners will have 28 days to accept or reject the district. After that happens, Scott will need to submit a detailed application to the state itemizing the improvements planned within the development, at which point a rehabilitation certificate would be issued.

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