Niles City Council approves grant for community development projects

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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NILES — More community development projects could be on the way for the City of Niles.

The Niles City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the submission of a grant application for the second round of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Revitalization and Placemaking program.

The Niles DDA Main Street applied and was awarded $1,287,000 in last year’s RAP 1.0 round. This year, MEDC is offering a RAP 2.0 Grant. Nile DDA Main Street will be applying on behalf of multiple DDA District businesses that meet all the requirements for the application. 

The RAP grant program requires a 50 percent match. According to Niles Main Street DDA Director Lisa Croteau, the projects will be matched using private donations and one project has matching support from three different foundations. Cornerstone Alliance is taking the lead on compiling the application which will include projects from Cornerstone, The City of St. Joseph and Niles DDA Main Street in order to give all three of its applications the best chance for funding. 

Local projects include:

The “Star” building, 217 N. 4th Street – Rehabilitation of the former Niles Daily Star building with buildout for entertainment venue.

321 E. Main Street, Niles – Rehabilitation of former Carnegie Library to Underground Laugh Lounge Comedy Club and The Study Whiskey Bar with lodging accommodations.

220 E. Main Street and 402 Wayne Street, Niles – Rehabilitation of two buildings with alley patio addition to Main Street location.

111 E. Main Street, Niles – Rehabilitation of historic building, adding four market rate apartments.

The council also approved the RAP Grant sub-recipient agreement between the City of Niles and the Niles DDA Main Street regarding last year’s successful grant application.

Niles DDA Main Street was awarded $1,287,000 for projects within the downtown area. The replacement of the downtown sidewalks was one of the public space projects funded at 50 percent by MEDC. The sidewalk replacement project was managed by the City of Niles with the City’s 50 percent match being funded through the ARPA grant. Niles DDA Main Street is a sub-recipient of Berrien County and the City of Niles is a sub-recipient of Niles DDA Main Street.

The approval of the sub-recipient agreement will allow the City of Niles to receive the $462,301.25 in RAP match funds, which will reimburse the City for 50 percent of the costs associated with the downtown sidewalk replacement project.

In other business, council:

  • Approved a renewal of the surcharge placed on customers’ electric bills in accordance with Michigan’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. Funds are collected through a passthrough surcharge and would have no effect on the city budget.
  • Approved the hiring of T&R Electric of Coloma, South Dakota to rebuild a 12 KVA transformer for $174,627 with the cost to be charged to the Electric Division and authorizing the Utilities Manager to sign the proposal.
  • Approved the termination of an easement along the Dowagiac River between the City and the property owner of parcel ID 11-14-0013-0015-00-7.
  • Approved the Utilities Department Electric Division’s authorization to engage Commonwealth Associates, Inc. of Jackson, Michigan for a Southside Substation Expansion Scoping Document at a cost of $15,000 and authorize the Mayor to sign the proposal. AEP will reimburse Niles for the cost of equipment and installation for the upgrade. The project is expected to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2026.
  • Accepted the bid of $14,900 from Northern Construction Services Corp., of Niles, to purchase a used 1999 Ford F350 for use at the cemetery and to be charged to the Vehicle Capitol Equipment Outlay fund.
  • Approved the purchase of computers from Dell Marketing LP of Round Rock, Texas in the amount of $9,159.68 to be charged to the Police Department’s Computer Equipment and Supplies fund.