City seeking grant funding to destroy vacant trackside building
Published 8:00 am Friday, May 22, 2015
Considered by many residents to be a blight on the downtown cityscape, the vacant warehouse located near the railroad tracks on Division Street could be coming down.
The members of the Dowagiac City Council voted unanimously to approve a grant application to the state’s blight elimination program during a special meeting at City Hall Thursday afternoon If approved, the program could provide the city with up to $250,000 worth of funding for the demolition of the three-story facility located at 200 E. Division St.
The council approved the acquisition of the trackside building through tax foreclosure during their last meeting on May 11, accomplishing the first step of the council’s longstanding goal to solve the issue of what to do with the vacant property.
“We’ve heard lots of conversations by people over the years that said that piece of property has become a blight downtown,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “When it became available, the council took the steps to acquire it. They view this as the time to take care of the problem.”
Earlier this week, members of the city staff began taking steps to apply for grant funding through the blight elimination program, rapidly putting together the paperwork and other components. In order to be considered for the program, the city must have their application submitted by June 1.
“It speaks well to the staff, who jumped on this,” Anderson said. “It’s a pretty significant piece to put things together quickly.”
Preliminary estimates for the total demolition of the building are between $400,000 and $500,000, Anderson said. In addition to pursuing additional grant funding, should the city’s application to the blight elimination program be accepted, they will open the project up to a formal bid process, the city manager said.
“We want to spend as little of the tax payers’ money as possible to get this done,” Anderson said. “It’s very high on our radar, it’s a high priority, but we’re looking at all funding sources right now.”