Incentives sought for National Standard, Heico property redevelopment

NILES – Niles’ dilapidated National Standard property — known to many residents as the “Heico Building” — took a step toward its next life at the Monday evening Niles City Council meeting.

The property, between Howard and Wayne Streets in Niles, is surrounded by residential homes. It is fenced off on some sides, but has doors and windows broken out on others. Piles of debris from caves ins, broken structures and graffiti litter the property.

Council members gave unanimous approval to engage Advanced Redevelopment Solutions, a company out of Eagle, Michigan, in a consultation for the City Complex Solar Project.

In late January, the council approved Engaging Commonwealth Associations, Inc. to do an impact study to further find what a distribution scale solar photovoltaic system would look like at the site.

“This is a huge goal for the city,” said Mayor Nick Shelton. “It’s something we recognize that we want to see happen. Our citizens and neighbors want to see it, as well.”

In the city council report, Niles Utilities Jeff Dunlap expanded on the next steps to be taken.

“The city is actively pursuing a distribution solar array at the former National Standard ‘City Complex’ site, and is in need of a brownfield qualified consultant,” Dunlap’s report said.

In the report, Dunlap states city staff has spent more than five years working with Advanced Redevelopment Solutions and Eric Helzer on the Indeck Brownfield Project.

“Mr. Helzer is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional, and able to leverage his experience and contacts to navigate the complicated brownfield development and state financing structures to obtain successful results,” Dunlap’s report said.

The previous study has been finished, and this next step will allow the city to explore what incentives might be available for developers interested in the property.

“We have been doing everything we can,” Shelton said.

These recent steps give a momentum to years of background work.

The property has been closed for years, with talks of demolition fizzling in 2013 after the property’s contamination deemed it unable to be used for recreation purposes.

“It’s a goal for me, in this term, to find a way to remediate that property,” Shelton said. “Our city staff and city administrator [Ric Huff] has the same goal. Our council shares that as well. We are all working in the same direction.”

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