Township approves Eastgate demolition
Published 10:21 pm Monday, November 15, 2010
It’s been quite a marathon, but the last leg of the race to get Niles Township’s abandoned Eastgate Shopping Plaza demolished is finally complete.
The township board approved the Brownfield Agreement for the 52-acre property on Oak Street by unanimous vote Monday night. The Berrien County Commissioners approved the same plan at the beginning of the month.
Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette said ML Developers, a group of Niles residents who now own the property, is now free to begin the redevelopment process.
According to Fette, the Brownfield plan calls for ML Developers to fund the estimated $319,295 project. The biggest costs will be the lead and asbestos abatement, projected at $61,500 and demolition estimated at $90,000.
“It might seem like a lot,” he said. “But it’s significantly less than what we initially thought.”
Fette said some early estimates were nearly triple what it is now projected to cost.
As part of the plan, for a 20-year period, ML Developers will be eligible for reimbursement of the redevelopment costs from new property taxes generated from the redeveloped property.
Fette estimated a redeveloped property at that location could bring in $326,077 in revenue in 20 years, completely reimbursing ML Developers.
Eastgate was a popular shopping center in the 1960s and 70s, featuring more than 20 businesses. Just 10 years ago the taxable value of the property was $1.7 million.
When the property was sold to MoorPark Associates out of Van Nuys, Calif. in the mid-1990s, the property began to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance. The taxable value is now just $286,761. The dilapidated property has been vacant since 2006.
Discussion of the property has taken center stage at several township board meetings in the past year with residents complaining about the unsightly building and calling for it to be razed.
“Now we have nothing left to talk about,” a resident quipped after the board approved the Brownfield plan.
New township trustee selected
Also Monday, the board selected Gary Conover as the replacement for former trustee Michael Bailey, whose resignation took effect in October.
Conover, 61, works out of his Niles Township home as a field service representative for Gulf Stream Aerospace.
The board selected Conover by a 4-1 vote with Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell voting no. Conover was sworn in after Monday’s board meeting.
There were 13 applicants for the position, and the board interviewed four last week. The three other finalists were Ollen Baldwin, Christopher Reynolds and August Kuehn.Plaza redevelopment plan