New health building eyed for Main/Front

Published 9:17 pm Monday, August 12, 2013

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department’s construction of a new building across from Dowagiac City Hall sets a chain of events in motion.

Borgess will expand into space at Donald Lyons Health Center the health department currently occupies.

The health department will expand its services with the construction of a downtown professional office/services facility at the corner of Front and Main streets.

The city will purchase the former Borgess medical building on South Front Street to facilitate construction of the professional services building.

Funds from that sale go to Borgess Lee Foundation for purchase of equipment to serve Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital.

The expanded health department will occupy the second floor of the building at Front and Main, while the first floor will be “white box space” available for lease.

Public parking lots will be constructed as part of the project.

Two resolutions formally set the process in motion so funding for the transactions can take place.

Van Buren Cass Community Health Properties issued $2.49 million in limited obligation revenue bonds for the health and medical office building project on April 12, 2006, which was subsequently amended and restated on June 27, 2007, to increase the principal amount to $2.822 million.

Lyons Health Center is 20,081 square feet leased in its entirety by the issuer, a Michigan non-profit known as Van Buren Cass Community Health Properties, to the health department and sub-leased in part to the hospital for provision of essential public health care services for residents of the two counties who are health department constituents.

It is anticipated construction will begin late this fall.

“A couple of things are happening,” City Manager Kevin Anderson explained. “We’re finally at a point where we’re going to see some redevelopment take place on the corner of Main and Front streets. Several pieces need to take place to make this happen. The reason for this public hearing (Monday night) is that the health department’s dental chairs on the second floor have grown and expanded beyond what space allows. They need more space. Part of this deals with refinancing that building so Borgess can take on additional space and fill that up. The dental clinic’s growing and Borgess is going to fill space, so that’s good news.

“We’ll be working with county health to build a two-story building (with an elevator) across the street here,” Anderson continued. “They’ll be on the second floor with about 6,000 square feet. The first floor will be vacant white box space and leased.”

“I think it’s a wonderful project,” Second Ward Councilman Bob Schuur said. “Let’s go for it.”

Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin conducted the meeting in the absence of Mayor Don Lyons and Third Ward Councilman Dr. Charles Burling.

Schuur, First Ward Councilwoman Lori Hunt, First Ward Councilman Randy Gross and Second Ward Councilman James Dodd supported the project.


First reading

for ordinance


Council gave first reading to an ordinance for an agreement between the city and First Housing Corp. for payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for acquiring and renovating Vineyard Place through MSHDA, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

A First Housing representative told Laylin that a $4.1-million facelift of all 120 Vineyard Place apartments and its community building is contemplated.


Rod and Roll

on Saturday


The 23rd annual Rod and Roll Classic Auto Show takes place downtown Aug. 17 in conjunction with a Lions Club pancake breakfast, afternoon barbecue, music from the 1950s and ’60s and a flea market.




Council confirmed Mayor Lyons’ reappointment of Deb Rohdy to the Housing Commission for a term expiring in August 2018.


P.A. 425 Pokagon

agreement hearing


Council set its next meeting Aug. 26 for a public hearing on Dan Leversen’s request that Heartland Ventures’ parking lot at 56271 M-51 South between his former Chrysler dealership and Honor Credit Union be brought into the city to facilitate a sale.

“That space is not actually in the city, though the dealership and the credit union are,” Anderson said. “It has a strange loop” that the conditional transfer with Pokagon Township would satisfy.

“You have a 30-day waiting period,” Anderson said. “If there are electors in either community who question the validity, they have a right to seek a referendum. We’re looking to Pokagon Township to schedule something similar” on Wednesday.


Pokagon Township

farmland agreement


Council also approved a 10-year farmland agreement recommended by its planning commission Aug. 5 for Terry and Ruth Ausra, 30550 Yaw St., for a 197-acre farm in Sections 3 and 10 of Pokagon Township so they can participate in the Department of Agriculture’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program.

The city must be notified because the proposed property is within three miles of Dowagiac. The Ausras sought a 20-year agreement.


DART bus



Council authorized a Michigan Department of Transportation permission agreement for purchase, mostly from grants, of a Dial-A-Ride Transit bus.

Anderson said, “Even if the (November) millage is approved for the potential consolidation (with Cass County Transit in Cassopolis), at the end of the day, we’re still going to need buses.”

Council paid $533,940.59, including $209,576.83 for bills and $324,363.76 for payroll.

The city is applying for a $171,005 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant for blight elimination at 115-117 S. Front St. as part of a $525,000 redevelopment project.

Council ended the evening in closed session to discuss negotiations related to the purchase of real property.