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Site assessment could lead to redevelopment in downtown

GAYLORD — The City of Gaylord is moving forward with a grant proposal for the Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Program in hopes a number of parcels could potentially be repurposed.

At its Oct. 22 meeting, city council unanimously approved a project proposal for site assessment, which would be used to determine preliminary eligibility for a Brownfield Redevelopment Site Assessment Grant.

The project proposal identifies five parcels of property to be assessed for contamination, all of which are owned by Go North Properties (GNP), a property management and real estate company located at 145 W. Main St.

The parcels include a significant portion of the parking areas on the 100 block of West First Street, as well as the building that currently houses Coney Island Cafe, 109 W. Main St.

According to the city’s project proposal, two of the properties previously had underground gasoline storage tanks removed, one in 1986 and one on an unknown date.

The existing storage garage and parking lot at 101 W. Main St. currently has a closed tank in ground.

The city is applying for Phase I and Phase II investigations by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), according to the proposal.

A Phase I assessment is used to identify if conditions are present at the property that indicate an actual or threatened release of hazardous substances, according to the MDEQ’s Baseline Environmental Assessments guide.

If further evaluation is required, a Phase II assessment would include additional investigation into the property, including collecting soil and groundwater samples, identifying underground tanks, and documenting abandoned containers and contents, the guide said.

The city is requesting $62,150 for the site assessment, all of which would potentially be funded through a grant from the MDEQ.

“The money is coming from the MDEQ, so it won’t cost the city anything,” Joe Duff, city manager, said at the meeting.

In addition to the site assessments, the proposal includes a lead, asbestos and mold survey for the storage garage and parking lot at 101 W. Main St.

The Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Program classifies “brownfields” as “commercial or industrial properties where future use is adversely affected by real or perceived environmental contamination, blight, functional obsolescence, or blank land ownership,” according to the MDEQ website.

The program’s goal is to provide incentives — through use of grants, loans and tax increment financing — to address environmental conditions on the properties and potentially redevelop them.

Gaylord participated in the redevelopment program in 2009, when Elmer’s Crane and Dozer Redevelopment Project was awarded a $492,550 grant to assess the former 38-acre city dump at 2100 Milbocker Road into a Team Elmer’s facility.

Fifteen new jobs were created as a result of the development project at the site, according to the MDEQ website.

Oscar W. Larson Co. is now located at the Milbocker site.

If the grant is approved and the city moves forward with GNP on the project, GNP would plan to demolish the storage garage and use the parcels of property being assessed for redevelopment purposes.

According to the proposal, GNP has indicated it would repurpose the parcels for a building involving retail, commercial and residential use with potential underground parking.

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