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  • Fishbeck Environmental

Newaygo Residential Development Makes New Use of Brownfield Incentives

North River Hills LLC, Newaygo County, and the Michigan Land Bank Authority just closed the deal on a first-of-its-kind use of brownfield incentives to support construction of 20 new homes in the city of Newaygo. The Newaygo County Commission gave its unanimous support this morning to incentives to help pay for infrastructure and site preparation costs at Phase II of River Hills Estates, a new neighborhood of market rate homes in the City of Newaygo.

“Homes in River Hills Estates are designed to be affordable for ‘missing middle’ home buyers who may be moving out of multi-family housing or a small first home into a larger family home,” said Newaygo County Administrator Christopher Wren. “The incentives will be passed along to home buyers by keeping overhead costs low. Maintaining home affordability helps Newaygo County residents.”

Brownfield incentives have helped reduce development costs for contaminated and blighted property since the 1990s. Michigan law says that property that’s contaminated, blighted, functionally obsolete, historic, or owned by a county or state land bank qualifies for brownfield incentives. Incentives can be used to pay for demolition, lead and asbestos abatement, environmental costs, and in some cases for infrastructure and site preparation.

This project is novel because the property was intentionally conveyed to the Michigan Land Bank Authority to become eligible for the incentives. “We could not sell home lots for a high enough price to cover site preparation and infrastructure, so Home Builders Association CEO Bob Filka suggested reaching out to the Michigan Land Bank Authority,” said North River Hills president John Bitely. “With the Land Bank’s help and support from the Newaygo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, we’re using brownfield incentives for the funding gap.” After a few months, the state will return the property to North River Hills.

North River Hills will be reimbursed from the development’s increased property taxes for infrastructure and site preparation costs under a brownfield plan amendment written by Fishbeck and approved by the city of Newaygo, the Newaygo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and Newaygo County. The city, county, and state will still be paid taxes at the pre-development rate until North River Hills is reimbursed, and the county will collect $15,000 from the increased property taxes for its Brownfield Revolving Fund. North River Hills contracted with Fishbeck, a Grand-Rapids based environmental, engineering, and construction firm, to steer the brownfield plan amendment through Newaygo County’s brownfield redevelopment authority.

Collaboration between state and local government officials, economic development organization The Right Place, and the development team set the stage for project success. “The project is truly a win-win for Newaygo residents, local governments, the developer, and the State of Michigan,” said Fishbeck project manager Susan Wenzlick. “I’m so happy we could be part of this team.”

Contact: Briana Mumby


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