Flint, MI—In its second time coming before the Flint City Council, the PILOT project for Orchard Lane Apartments was approved.

The ordinance will allow Communities First Inc., a developer that has rehabilitated other Flint properties, to pay a 4.5% service charge in lieu of taxes on Orchard Lane Apartments, located at 2709 Orchard Lane. 

The tax break would allow the developers to purchase and renovate the apartments for the purpose of creating affordable housing. 

This project was brought before the council last month but failed as three council people were absent and one fell asleep

“This is a project that seeks to avoid another eyesore developing in my sixth ward,” Councilman Herbert Winfrey said at Wednesday’s continued city council meeting.

At last month’s city council meeting, Winfrey said the people of his ward support the PILOT project.

“I have received I don’t know how many complaints about the Orchard Lane Apartments,” Winfrey said at the August meeting. “I think the majority of people in the 6th ward and in that area would be supportive of a low and moderate income housing renovation.”

Councilman Eric Mays supported this project and said he wants to see more neighborhood development.

“I want to see if all these General Motors corporations, all of the downtown development, and I want to see if we can develop our neighborhoods,” Mays said. “I want to see if the economic development folks help small businesses, black businesses, minority businesses, women businesses, white businesses. I want to see if they’ll move this creative financing to the neighborhoods.”

Councilwoman Kate Fields, Councilwoman Eva Worthing and Councilman Allan Griggs did not vote to support the project.

Griggs said he would be voting no, because he “will not vote for any tax rebates.”

Fields disapproved of the project, as well as the fact that it was brought before the council a second time.

“Council voted this down once, and I don’t appreciate Mrs. Wilcox allowing them to bring forward another application, changing the amount of money just slightly,” Fields said. “They don’t have the funding in place and yet they want a tax pilot.”

Winfrey viewed the second presentation of the project differently.

“We have a lady from planning that’s supporting this as well, Mrs. Wilcox,” he said. “I do not want to see this Orchard Lane Apartments go into foreclosure, the city gets no taxes, and then we have an eyesore.” 

The project passed with a vote of 6-3.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...