Flint, MI–A new mixed-use development including 50 residences, retail and office space and a new home for the YMCA of Greater Flint could soon be changing the downtown landscape.
During a legislative committee meeting on Dec. 7, 2022, Flint City Council voted unanimously to consider a payment in lieu of taxes agreement (PILOT) for Uptown Reinvestment Corporation (URC), the Flint-based property management and development organization behind the potential project at 719 Harrison St.
The PILOT would allow the City to collect an annual service charge rather than the usual amount of property tax on the development, helping propel the project forward by mitigating early financial burdens of build out and operation.
The project’s PILOT ordinance states that the City would collect an annual service charge equal to 10% of annual rent payments URC collects from the building’s occupants over a 30-year span.
Joe Martin, Uptown’s director of development, told Council that a “typical PILOT” usually asks for a lesser rate of 4-7%, but Martin said URC and its partners will pay nearly double in order to get the development off the ground.
“The project is asking for what it needs to move forward, not simply what it can ask for,” Martin told Council. “The current taxable value of the property is about $12,000. After the development, with the PILOT, it is projected to pay about $50,000 per year.”
According to the PILOT’s review documentation, if approved, the agreement would result in the City gaining roughly $48,000 per year from the development at full occupancy.
Without the PILOT, the same structure would result in potential taxes of $80,808 per a year at full occupancy, a difference of nearly $33,000 annually.
According to Uptown’s application, the mixed-use building will include 50 units of housing, 19 of which will be income-restricted for affordability.
“While it’s ensuring affordable housing, there’s also benefits to the city of Flint,” Moses Timlin, Uptown’s redevelopment coordinator, told Council. “It’s really hard to create housing, and it’s even harder to create affordable housing. So, public incentives like this [PILOT] really allow the public-private sector to create goals that better the city of Flint.”
Martin added that of the development’s 19 affordable units, 15 will be reserved for workforce housing and four will be for low-income housing.
According to URC’s application form, this means that the former 15 units will be income-restricted to residents who earn 80% or less of the median income of Genesee County residents.
“These units are generally available for those within the service industry, or young professionals,” the application reads, adding that the units would be affordable for those earning the starting salary of a policeman, firefighter, nurse or teacher, for example.
The application also notes the remaining four units will be reserved for residents who earn 50% or less of the area median income (AMI).
If approved, the new development will comprise more than 100,000 square feet and stand five stories tall, with housing on floors two to five. The second floor will be shared with the YMCA, which will also occupy the first floor alongside a leasing area for the upstairs apartments.
Shelly Hilton, CEO of YMCA of Greater Flint, and Janet Tweddle, its COO, both attended Wednesday’s Council meeting in support of the project, which would relocate the YMCA from its current space at 411 E. 3rd St.
Hilton told Council that the YMCA is 143 years old and serves around 2,000 Flint residents, some of whom are receiving financial assistance from the organization.
However, according to Tweddle, the current facility is outdated and obsolete, limiting YMCA staff’s ability to reach out to the community and expand programs.
“The downtown Y is at the end of its usable life, and, unfortunately, the Flint Y is being faced with the decision to either close doors or find a sustainable path forward,” Hilton said. “And I can tell you that we intend to serve the city of Flint for another 143 years. Through our partnership with Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, we see that path forward.”
Tweddle echoed Hilton’s statements, saying the YMCA wants to not only continue serving Flint but broaden its base in the community.
“Our seniors, our youth, our family – we want to expand our outreach,” Tweddle said. “We want more kids in our pool swimming, we want more seniors in our lobby congregating, we want more people in our gym playing basketball. We want this to be the place where the Flint community comes to be healthy, to learn how to swim and to spend time together.”
Tweddle added that she believed the new facility is “where that will happen.”
According to Uptown’s application, the YMCA portion of the building will feature a six-lane swimming pool, locker rooms, lobby with gathering space, community and after-school rooms, and branch offices on the first floor. On the second floor, there will be a basketball court, three exercise rooms, a running and walking track, and cardio and weight equipment.
The YMCA will also sublease a portion of their space to the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, the application says.
Ultimately, Councilwoman Judy Priestley made a motion to send the PILOT ordinance through to Council for first reading. Her motion was approved 6-0, with Priestley, Council President Allie Herkenroder, Council Vice President Ladel Lewis, and Councilmembers Eric Mays, Jerri Winfrey-Carter, and Tonya Burns voting yes.
Councilman Quincy Murphy had excused himself earlier in Wednesday’s meeting, and Councilmembers Dennis Pfeiffer and Eva Worthing were absent.
Council will vote on the PILOT ordinance’s first reading at its next meeting on Dec. 12, 2022.
Should the PILOT be approved for second reading and adoption, Uptown’s application estimates that the $33.5 million construction project will be complete by summer of 2024.