Traverse City News and Events

GT County, Kingsley Partner to Transform Downtown Village Block

By Beth Milligan | June 8, 2023

Grand Traverse County and the Village of Kingsley are partnering to redevelop an entire block in downtown Kingsley, with the county’s Land Bank Authority (LBA) agreeing to purchase four parcels currently home to John’s Auto and Auto Tech with the goal of demolishing and cleaning up the sites for new development. The Kingsley Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will create a new vision for the site with community input and help secure developers for the properties.

LBA officials have signed a purchase agreement for $350,000 (plus a non-refundable good faith deposit of $6,600) to acquire John’s Auto from John and Melinda Sedlacek at 103 West Main Street. The property spreads across three parcels, including not just the business but a pole barn and rental house. The LBA has also signed a purchase agreement with Cy and Nadine Baker for $440,000 (plus $20,000 for on-site equipment) to purchase the neighboring Auto Tech property at 115 West Main Street. Environmental due diligence is being completed on the sites now ahead of anticipated closings on both deals later this year.

Both the Sedlaceks and Bakers wanted to retire, offering Kingsley and the LBA a unique opportunity to step in and take over the properties with the aim of revitalizing the entire aging downtown block. “I think downtown Kingsley needs a facelift,” says Cy Baker. “I saw this as an opportunity to give back to this wonderful community that has given so much to us over the last 23 years. It was time for me and my business to move on.”

Kingsley DDA Chair Max Anderson says a possible deal has been in the works for several years, with LBA funding finally make the project a reality. Kingsley is in the midst of a rebirth period, with new businesses like Kingsley Local Brewing Company, Cast Iron Kitchen, and the new Kingsley Inn opening, the Kingsley Market undergoing a major revamp, Brownson Avenue recently being reconstructed, and the village receiving a $1 million state grant to revitalize Brownson Memorial Park. But there is an “elephant in the room” in terms of the downtown area, Anderson says, which is the “aesthetics of our corridor” due to deteriorating and aging buildings.

“Part of the DDA’s mission is to improve the downtown corridor in order to foster more growth and to help develop and beautify it,” Anderson says. “We’ve had our eyes on these properties for years, and never really knew how to go about fixing them.” According to terms between the LBA and DDA, the DDA will have seven years once the property purchases are finalized to find new owners/developers to purchase the sites from the LBA for redevelopment. If the DDA doesn’t find new owners in that timeframe, the DDA itself will buy the properties from the LBA.

Anderson says the DDA will gather community input on desired uses for the downtown sites and will take the lead in marketing the properties to developers. Some potential uses have already been discussed: Anderson mentions mixed-use concepts including having a brick-and-mortar coffee shop with apartments above, or bringing in a Kingsley-based family doctor (there are already dental and optometry practices downtown).

“We’d like to have something that preserves the historic character and honors the past of Kingsley,” Anderson says. “We’re not looking to put in a big modern weird-looking building. Downtown Kingsley just needs a facelift. There’s nothing wrong with what’s there now, but there are higher and better uses for it.”

Having the LBA involved as the intermediary owner of the parcels offers more benefits beyond just funding for the purchases. LBAs are eligible for unique grant opportunities in Michigan, including brownfield funding for demolition and cleanup and blight elimination grants through the State Land Bank Authority. Grand Traverse County Deputy Administrator Chris Forsyth says the LBA has already applied for funding that could help cover demolition expenses and potentially even reimbursement of acquisition costs.

The LBA will also provide administrative support to Kingsley as it works on the redevelopment project. “The second means of support (beyond funding) is capacity,” says Forsyth. “We recognize they’re a small village. They just don’t have the staff or resources to go after grant dollars and line up consultants to work on pre-development.”

The Kingsley Main Street project is the latest example of how LBAs, like Grand Traverse County’s, can help facilitate community redevelopment. Forsyth points to another recent project, the development of Blain’s Farm & Fleet on US-31 and Rennie School Road, in which the LBA was able to take on unwanted property (in this case, a foreclosed site) and eventually sell it to a developer for new construction. The development of the site and surrounding area helped Blair Township pay off a $1.3 million sewer bond and created LBA revenues for other projects, such as the Kingsley project. A new fitness court on Boardman Lake near Oryana is another example of an LBA project.

Forsyth says such projects help demonstrate that when new opportunities – like Kingsley’s Main Street – arise, the LBA has a “track record” of success in working collaboratively with community partners to bring new life to those properties. LBA Chair Heidi Scheppe says the authority is “excited” to partner with Kingsley on the project, adding: “We are looking forward to getting the property cleaned up and finding a developer to bring growth and development to the Kingsley community."

Photo credit: The Village of Kingsley DDA

Comment

Potential $11-$16 Million LaFranier Expansion On County's Agenda

Read More >>

Ransomware Group Claims Credit for TCAPS Attack

Read More >>

Airport Updates: Cherry Fest Air Show Agreement Approved, Tech Park Hearing Scheduled

Read More >>

Traffic Stop Leads to Search of Drug House

Read More >>

One Year of Recreation Cannabis in Traverse City

Read More >>

Tank Space Opens on Eighth, More Retail/Restaurant News

Read More >>

From Neighborhood Bike Club To $730,000 Impact: The History Of Mud Sweat & Beers

Read More >>

TART Trail, Union Contracts, Morgan Farms Neighborhood Association on City Agenda

Read More >>

City Project Updates: FishPass, M-22/M-72 Reconstruction

Read More >>

Your 2024 Spring Race Calendar

Read More >>

Place Your Bets: Expert to Talk Online Sports Gambling Boom

Read More >>

New Designation Means Big Money For Career-Tech Center's Manufacturing Programs

Read More >>

City Considers Taking Over Parking From DDA

Read More >>

What’s Next for the Pines?

Read More >>