Governmental genie wishes you some grants

By Ian Perrotta

Here’s a great gift this Christmas: a grant from the government.

Thanks to the city’s strong relationship with the state, that’s actually an option this year. There are currently several grants waiting to be applied for, and the only thing they need is you.

The first grant available is one you may have read about already – the Brownfield Redevelopment Incentive. To qualify for this grant through the Environmental Protection Agency a property must be designated as a Brownfield, which means that it may have stored or used hazardous materials at one time – including asbestos.

If a property has been declared a Brownfield, it can be granted a “tax freeze” that effectively freezes the tax rate at its current level for up to 30 years. Though the property owner must still pay taxes, any amount that is collected above the frozen tax level is returned to the taxpayer, with the balance paid by the government. This type of grant is one of several that property developer Mark Hausner tapped into to help fund the improvement project in the four-story building at Jos. Campau and Belmont.

The second type of grant is similar to the first in the fact that it is also a tax freeze. This grant, called the Obsolete Property Recovery Act (OPRA), freezes taxes on commercial buildings for a period of up to 12 years. To qualify, a building must be deemed “functionally obsolete.” This can mean a number of things, which makes the grant’s umbrella large enough to encompass a variety of buildings.

A third type of grant available is one through the Upper Story Rental Rehabilitation Program. This grant, offered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), is a cash grant used to build or revitalize residential apartments on top of commercial buildings. Buildings that meet this guideline can qualify for up to $25,000 per unit for existing residences and up to $35,000 for new units.

After the building has been renovated, the owner must then offer the residential units at an affordable price for at least five years in order to be recouped for costs. Hamtramck Community & Economic Development Director Jason Friedmann said that the goal of this grant is to bring more people into the city to live in mixed-use buildings.

“The idea is that it will get more people to live in the business district,” he said. “And hopefully that will create more business overall. And with more people living in the area, it will create a safer environment, which will hopefully lead to even more businesses coming in.”

If you would like more information on these and other grants available through the city of Hamtramck contact Jason Friedmann at (313) 876-7700, extension 294.

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