BAY CITY TIMES
By Andrew Dodson
BAY CITY, MICH. — Following weeks of arguments for and against building a new low-income senior apartment complex near downtown, the Bay City Commission votes on a tax break this week that’s needed to see the project move forward.
Westbrook Housing Development, which is made up of partners from Saginaw-based Wolgast Corp., is proposing a housing development of 47 one- and two-bedroom apartments called Madison Place Senior Apartments for low- to moderate-income residents 55 years and older. The facility would be constructed on an unused parking lot at Fourth Street and Madison Avenue.
John Dupont, a partner with Westbrook, has continued to say there’s a need for low-income senior housing in Bay City, pointing to a March 2016 Michigan State Housing Development Authority market study, and that city support would be an “important investment in the social equity of the community.”
Bay City Manager Rick Finn and his staff say the project goes against recommendations in a recently published citywide housing study and believes it is not beneficial for the long term success of the city.
The City Commission meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at Bay City Hall, 301 N. Washington Ave., to vote on a PILOT — payment in lieu of taxes — agreement that the developer needs to secure $7 million to $10 million federal tax credits from MSHDA.
The recommendation from Finn on Monday’s agenda is to “receive” the proposal and take no further action, meaning the PILOT wouldn’t be approved.
Commission President Andrew Niedzinski, 3rd Ward, said he doesn’t anticipate the commission to be in favor of giving the tax break.
“My main concern is that in 50 years, there’s not going to be a need for these senior housing facilities,” he said. “The next-generation isn’t large enough to fill them.”
He added that the property is also prime for a market-rate development.
If approved, the developer would make a one-time $200,000 payment — up from an initial $100,000 offer — to the city as an incentive. The PILOT would then generate about $15,000 per year in taxes for the city for the next 50 years.