Governor Granholm Announces 23 Projects Selected as 2006 Cool Cities Designees

Contact: Lori Donlan 517-373-9280

July 20, 2006

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that 23 projects have been selected for the 2006 Cool Cities Grants and Program.  The Cool Cities designations are part of Granholm's economic plan to revitalize Michigan's cities by retaining and attracting jobs and people to grow Michigan's economy. The 2006 Cool Cities designees estimate the program will assist in the creation of 456 full-time and 11 part-time jobs.

"Michigan's economic success is directly tied to our ability to attract and retain jobs and opportunities that will keep our young adults here in Michigan," Granholm said. "The Cool Cities initiative is a critical tool for achieving vibrant cities, which attract job providers who in turn provide the opportunities that will grow our economy."

A Cool Cities designation brings with it funding and a variety of "tool box" items provided by state agencies to help Michigan cities and neighborhoods achieve the projects outlined in their applications submitted for consideration by a review committee. The Cool Cities program utilizes existing state resources, which are used more efficiently through the collaboration of state agencies.

Now in its third year, the Cool Cities initiative offers a "Neighborhoods in Progress" designation, which awards $100,000 catalyst grants along with priority access to existing state grant funds, loans, tax credits, or services that can help create vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods. 

This year, sixteen projects have received the Cool Cities "Neighborhoods in Progress" designation and priority access to "tool box" items.  Twelve of the 16 will also each receive the catalyst grant of $100,000. The 12 projects receiving the Cool Cities Neighborhoods in Progress and catalyst grant are located in Benton Harbor, Detroit (3), Flint, Grand Rapids, Howell, Ionia, Lansing, Mount Clemens, Muskegon, and Pontiac. The four projects that received the Cool Cities designation and priority access to state resources, without the $100,000 catalyst funding are: Adrian, Cadillac, Dearborn and Saginaw.

"We had the funding available for 12 Neighborhoods in Progress, however we received 16 outstanding for proposals.  As a result, we opted to add Adrian, Dearborn, Cadillac, and Saginaw projects as Cool Cities designees to assist their projects with the resources we have available including priority access and technical assistance," said Department of Labor & Economic Growth Director Robert W. Swanson. "We've learned from past Cool Cities projects that just the designation alone gives them an opportunity to leverage significant investment into their communities." 

The cities participating in the first year of the program say the Cool Cities designation helped create 400 new jobs and retain 500 existing jobs. They also reported more than $350 million was contributed by local, state, and private organizations.

The Cool Cities program was expanded in 2005 with new categories: Cool Cities Michigan Main Street and Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns. Like the Neighborhoods in Progress, designees in these categories will participate in a State Resource Fair and receive the "Cool Cities Neighborhood" designation as well as special consideration for
certain Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) programs.

- 2006 Cool Cities Michigan Main Street: Lansing's Old Town and Iron Mountain. These projects will receive more than $200,000 in technical assistance and training as part of a long-term management approach to revitalizing and maintaining a successful downtown through organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring.

- 2006 Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns: Charlevoix, Muskegon Heights, Oscoda, Petoskey, and Tecumseh.  Based on a market driven approach, MSHDA and consulting staff team up to provide a public process, and action-oriented strategy to revitalize the downtown in a 3 - 5 year period including a market study for the downtown.  Designees receive a 50/50 match and MSHDA pays for half the consultant fee.

The Cool Cities initiative breaks down the silos of state government by having a multi-agency team review each application.  The team looks for proposals that demonstrate close partnerships with existing community organizations and the private sector and offer plans for creating large-scale neighborhood or community improvement.

"This initiative is key to the Governor's overall economic development strategy, and we are pleased that we can be of assistance to cities that want to bring back their downtowns and neighborhoods," said MSHDA Executive Director Michael R. DeVos. "The Cool Cities initiative is an excellent example of what can happen when state agencies and local governments and development organizations work together to bring jobs and people to their communities."

Following are brief descriptions of the Cool City Neighborhoods in Progress recipients:
- Genesee County Land Bank Authority/ Kettering University: Advanced Technology & Alternative Energy Research Bldg. (Flint)
 The two projects combined will provide the catalyst for both quality housing and jobs. The project involves constructing 20 loft condominiums and two commercial spaces and a 22,000 sq. ft. advanced fuel cell research center within the redevelopment area known as the River District.
 The fuel cell research center is the first building of several to be located on a 17- acre research park.
 The fuel cell laboratory will employ at least 25 knowledge workers and will strengthen and build upon growing research and development initiatives at the University. 
 The synergy created by this project will help lay the groundwork for future jobs in Flint.
- Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (Detroit)
 Grandmont Rosedale Commercial Revitalization will enhance the streetscape environment of our Grand River commercial district which will spur new business development and job creation along the corridor. 
 The project is already underway and is leveraging millions of dollars in public and private investment.
 Specifically, the Catalyst Grant would be used to repair and landscape historic neighborhood entrances and make improvements to the site of our proposed Farmers' Market.
- Lighthouse Communities, Inc. (Grand Rapids)
 The Catalyst project will convert an industrial building into -the Hubb- a 60,000 sq ft commercial center offering space to internet dependent companies. 
 It will also target facades and streetscape improvement nearby to enhance the impact of the Hubb and establish a high tech niche within the urban neighborhood context. 
 These improvements will increase walkability and expand the impact of the 160 new full-time jobs created by the new internet-based venture Pathways Internet Services.
- Citizens For Progressive Change (Benton Harbor)
 Creation of the "Heart of the City Artist Studios at 80 West Main" includes completion of the rehabilitation of the Historic McClellan Building which will include three new and separate building facades, outdoor directional signs & murals, a "Welcome to the Downtown Benton Harbor Arts District" signage, streetscapes, seven artist studios, two fine art galleries, a welcome/ library center for Students of the Arts, one additional retail shop, and an artist in resident apartment. 
 The project will create approximately twelve new jobs and provide a springboard for downtown growth.
- Muskegon Main Street (Muskegon)
 The proposed catalyst project would create a gathering place at the corner of Third and Western by implementing three components; facade improvements for buildings owned by Western Avenue Properties, a public art composition commissioned by the Muskegon Museum of Art (owned and operated by Muskegon Public Schools) and a wireless Internet hot spot initiated by Muskegon Main Street.
 The combination of improvements created by these three project elements would be significant enough to tip the intersection to cool and would add to the significant investment being already being leveraged at this intersection to create a new downtown Muskegon.
 It is not to a stretch to say that within 18 months the makeover that will occur at this intersection will be more than extreme, it will be cool!
- City of Mount Clemens (Mount Clemens)
 The Bath City ART-Park will create a programmable sculpture garden adjacent to the City's thriving Art Center.
 Connections through signage, web, and print with other Downtown public art installations will make the BCAP a key amenity and capstone to The Art Center expansion
- City of Ionia (Ionia)
 Upgrades of $300,000 to Ionia's Theatre will diversify its entertainment capabilities allowing live theatre; enhanced musical productions; and sophisticated live performances, all necessary in today's competitive entertainment market.
 Appealing to larger numbers of diverse audiences will strengthen the theatre's financial base allowing the Theatre and Downtown to have a more stable future by bringing more people into the downtown area which also enhances other area businesses.
 Increased Theatre venues and activities expand revitalization efforts for the Downtown.
- Focus: HOPE, A Michigan Non Profit Corporation (Detroit) Also affects a portion of Highland Park
 The Catalyst project will change the face of a very important corner in our community, making it a focal point of activity, and a place with the potential for activity during both the day and the evening.
 The Catalyst Project will provide new housing, new retail, and a new outdoor interactive environment, as well as serving as the springboard for future redevelopment of this portion of Detroit and Highland Park.
- City of Howell (Howell)
 The Howell Opera House First Floor Renovation project will rehabilitate the lower floor of the historic, 125 year-old Opera House so that the space can be used as a center for community arts, community meetings, and as a home for the Livingston Arts Council.
- Arab American and Chaldean Council (Detroit)
 The ACC has identified several Arab-American, Chaldean, and African-American artists who have expressed a need for studio and gallery space.
 The ACC has already demolished an existing building to provide space for the Artisana adjacent to the planned pocket park and Youth Center. There are no other arts facilities in the 7-mile area.
- Economic Development Corporation of Lansing (Lansing)
 The Catalyst project is privately developed Pat Gillespie building called the Stadium District building. This is a five story, mixed use, fun and residential building to be built on former city owned property to the immediate south of Oldsmobile Stadium.
 The Cool City Catalyst grant will be used to connect the District area's entertainment features, re-shaping its neighborhood image, helping to make the actual Stadium District building a development (job creation and private investment) success - inspiring the entire District area neighborhood to begin revitalizing into a thriving Cool City Neighborhood.
 The grant will be used for: Innovative, connective streetscape, wireless hot spots, wayfinding signs identifying the Stadium District area with branding and directions, a mural replacement on Riverwalk Theater, and other marketing types of public infrastructure.
 The Catalyst project and the Cool City Catalyst $100,000, together, can develop a new urban neighborhood that is deeply entrenched in arts and culture.
- City of Pontiac, Pontiac Growth Group (Pontiac)
 This project will house performances and music workshops sponsored by members of Clear Channel Communication, Live Nation and the Arts Beats and Eats Foundation.
 Each group has committed to providing workshops and clinics for youth in music: performance, sound, lighting, staging and technical assistance to the industry.

The following projects are Cool City Neighborhoods in Progress, which will not receive the catalyst funding but will be given the same priority access to state resources and technical assistance:

- City of Adrian Downtown Development Authority
 The DDA has developed a three-part site assistance program. That program provides up to 50% matching grants for hard costs related to historic building facade improvements. In exchange for the grant funds, the City has received a preservation easement on the structure's facade. Currently DDA staff is working with at least three property owners considering significant (in excess of $50,000 per facade) rehabilitation projects.
- City of Cadillac
 In partnership with the State of Michigan and local stakeholders, the City of Cadillac plans to acquire the historic Cobbs & Mitchell building to facilitate its reuse by the private sector.
 Creative reuses for the facility are currently under study, with office and/or residential options topping the feasibility list.
- City of Dearborn, with Chamber of Commerce, West Downtown Development Authority, West Business Association
 The City is creating a new Visitor and Welcome Center in the historic, centrally located Bryant Library is the next step in our redevelopment strategy.
 Combined City, Chamber and tourism resources will inform and assist visitors and investors.
- Saginaw Depot Preservation Corporation
 The Depot's first floor will open with a gallery, dance studio and Historic Materials Exchange: and the Power House will be restored with sustainable energy business and a small biodiesel plant.