The Utica Junction area has been established as a commercial rehabilitation district to help business growth in the area.

The Utica Junction area has been established as a commercial rehabilitation district to help business growth in the area.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Roseville establishes commercial rehabilitation district at Utica Junction

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 17, 2020


ROSEVILLE — The Roseville City Council approved the establishment of a commercial rehabilitation district around the Utica Junction area at its regular meeting Dec. 8.

The district will encompass Utica Road properties between Homer Street and both Peters Street and Tranquil Street. It does not include any properties fronting Gratiot Avenue or anything north of Peters and Tranquil. The district could be expanded in the future if needs arise. The goal of the district is to aid businesses in the area, through tax incentives, to remain in the area or to encourage businesses to move to the area.

“It is a mechanism set in place by state statute so assistance can be given to property owners with vacated or obsolete properties,” explained City Manager Scott Adkins. “If the district is established as it has been for the Utica Junction area at the meeting the other night, it allows the city to grant incentives to qualifying businesses.”

The establishment of the district was approved unanimously by the council. Several members voiced their approval of the initiative.

“I think this is a good move for the city and it has proven successful in the past,” Mayor Robert Taylor said. “We’ve taken several steps to improve the business viability of this area in the last few years, so if we can do something to continue that, I think it’s something that will ultimately be good for the city.”

Roseville officials said the city has had positive results from previously established commercial rehabilitation districts.

“Our past history with this sort of measure has been very successful and we have brought jobs and dollars into the community doing so,” said Adkins. “Macomb Mall was a commercial rehabilitation district. The Kroger at 13 Mile was as well. This establishment doesn’t change anyone’s tax structure or zoning, it just lets property owners take advantage of tax exemptions or abatements if they meet certain criteria.”

Most qualifications that businesses have to meet are set by the state of Michigan. The local municipality establishing the district can set its own depending on what it wants the district to achieve.

“The state statute sets the criteria, and in this case it has to be a vacated or obsolete property and had to have previously been commercial property for the last 15 years,” said Adkins. “There are some other stipulations, such as if it’s a food business going in an area with very few of them already there, they can qualify. The city’s particular criteria includes a certain amount of job creation or job retention.”

The length of time the Utica Junction district will be in place has not yet been determined and the law says it can be in place for as long as 10 years.

“The time is determined by the city, and the tax exemptions can last as long as we think appropriate, up to 10 years. The end goal is to encourage businesses to move to the area or stay in the area,” said Adkins. “Macomb Mall, for instance, was able to benefit from these exemptions to bring in new businesses and brought millions of dollars into the area, which in turn brings in even more businesses. It can snowball.”

Some residents expressed concerns that it would affect the tax rates of existing businesses, but Adkins said this would not be the case.

“We all understand what this is about and it’s a good process, but I had some calls with members of the public who felt they were not properly informed of this measure,” said Councilman Bill Shoemaker. “It was two business owners and one resident within a few hundred feet of the (rehabilitation) district. … We want people to know they can come to us for answers.”

It will be several weeks before businesses can begin applying for the incentives allowed by the commercial rehabilitation district.

“After it was approved locally, it now has to be approved by the county after 28 days,” said Adkins. “After that point, if they approve it, businesses can then apply for these measures. How long it will be before businesses qualify and apply depends on the actions of local businesses and potential businesses.”