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Student Housing Brownfield Tax Plan Approved

Dearborn City Council approved the tax plan for the project on Monday at a public hearing, during which developers revealed more details about the plan.

A sand volleyball court. Student activity space. Full food services. And at least 525 beds that could, in the very near future, be laid claim to by students.

And with Monday afternoon's approval of the Brownfield tax plan by Dearborn City Council, plans for student housing are one step closer to reality.

Dearborn Economic Development Director Barry Murray explained that the property is eligible for several tax captures, including just under $2 million that will be split roughly in half for construction of the properties as well as the building of a pedestrian crossing across Evergreen Road.

The second tax capture had to do with approving the property as functionally obsolete, which means that it can no longer feasibly be used for the purpose it was designed. In this case, the properties in question were office buildings, which City Assessor Gary Evanko pointed out, are in "overcapacity" in Dearborn.

City Council approved both measures unanimously, checking one more item off the list needed before construction of the housing begins.

Larry Winokur of Urban Campus Communities–the developer of the estimated $44-million project–spoke in greater detail about the project during and after Monday's public hearing.

According to Winokur, the two-phase project will begin construction in September, pending finalization of financing. The first phase will cost around $27 million and will include the redevelopment of existing properties. Phase two would be a new construction that would add another 300 beds to the project.

The property at 760 Town Center Drive–the northern-most building in the project–"will be a multipurpose, multifunction building," said Winokur, who noted that the plan may still be tweaked as they move forward. "We're going to have a small portion of it devoted to apartment use–there will be 9 two-bedroom apartments. In addition, the university is leasing about ... 14,000 square feet. They're going to use it for student life activities, including meeting rooms, offices for student organizations and a multipurpose room, which will also be utilized as theater."

The other property at 780 Town Center Drive is planned to be used solely for housing.

Urban Campus Communities will house their offices in that same building. Additionally, Winokur said it is tentatively slated to include a fitness area and full food services, although the provider has not yet been selected.

Like university officials, Winokur was hesitant to say that the project is a done deal.

"We've learned that nothing is for sure until it's for sure," Winokur said. "Until we've dotted every i and crossed every t with both the bank and the general contractor and agreed upon the plan and made sure it makes financial sense–there are a lot of issues that have to be properly resolved."

Johnny Christmas August 02, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Super great pictures! Patch's policy of including photos with every story is so great because I would have a hard time picturing what a man in a suit addressing the city council might look like otherwise.
City of Dearborn (Editor) August 02, 2011 at 05:51 PM
While we appreciate all comments, we would like to keep things on topic and hear what readers think of the student housing proposal. Any thoughts?
Frank Lee August 02, 2011 at 05:58 PM
What a waste. Tax Capture, and brownfield redevelopment two code words for government subsidizing inefficient projects. Student Housing for UofM is this something the city should even be spending resources on outside of permits. Thanks O'Reilly close pools parks and libraries but build train stations, convention centers, and now student housing. This housing project will be as successful as all of the other town house projects I'm sure
Dearborn Taxpayer August 02, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Yes, first a big tax break for the Russian-owned, pollution-emitting Sverstal and now another big tax subsidy for student housing and volleyball courts. Yet our city council and mayor raise the city tax rate by 12% this year and want us to vote to let them raise it another 30% next year on those of us who have already made Dearborn our homes and invested in business/commerical property in the city. This is big government picking winners and losers and it just doesn't work!
Lynn Vander Meer September 18, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I am trying to understand how this benefits the taxpayers of Dearborn. A private investor borrows money and gets a tax break to build a facility that is leased to students who borrow money to attend UW-Dearborn. Seems to me to be a pocket-filling activity that goes only one way and with little to no risk for the investor. If it doesn't work, they take the money and run. Think Donald Trump. How many times has he gone bankrupt? This is not going to go well, but it will take about ten years to figure it out. By then the original actors will be gone and Dearborn will be holding the bag.
Rick Yarling December 27, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Obviously you do not understand public-private partnerships. There is obviously a gap between cost and value. The city will capture future property taxes and Tax Increment Finanacing capture. Besides the lender requires personal guarantess at the front end and back end of any commercial loan. This is Win - Win for the city and the university along with the private developer and operator. It creates much needed housing for Uof M to attract more students to their university. Not hard to figure out.

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