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Funding the Project


You can have the best project in mind, the plan perfectly drawn out, yet without capital, the project will never get off the ground. As Albion Reinvestment Corporation (ARC) set the Big Albion Plan in motion, funding has been the largest hurdle. The Big Albion Plan includes six projects that will be happening consecutively, costing about $17.5 million. Within the six projects, more than 20 commercial storefronts will be renovated and more than 50 second and third-floor apartments will utilize the long-vacant upper floors. With a project of this scale, it is vital to have team members that understand the various available funding sources.  Bruce Johnston of Revitalize, LLC, was hired by ARC to help them navigate the project’s financial side.

Before his work with ARC, Johnston was the Ingham County Housing Commission’s Executive Director for 30 years. After retirement in 2012, he started his own company, Revitalize, LLC. Johnston is a consultant that works with development projects and assists with securing grants to fund those projects. Along with that, he makes sure the grant is administered and reported properly. This includes items such as payroll and making sure money is flowing in the proper direction. Jonhston likes working in towns like Albion because he likes to see the preservations of historic downtowns. This is not Johnston’s first project in Albion; he also worked in partnership with ACE Investment Properties on the Brick Street Lofts project that was completed in January 2021.

 

Brick Street Lofts project, located between Albion Malleable Brewing Co on the left and Foundry Bakehouse and Deli on the right prior to the start of construction. The construction work was done by First Contracting, Inc. and partially funded by a $900,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

 

Aerial view of the Brick Street Lofts project completed in January 2021. Over the past three years, each building in the 400 Block of South Superior Street has been renovated. This project was completed by a private developer, ACE Investment Properties.

 

The Big Albion Plan will be the largest renovation to a downtown in Michigan’s history aside from major Michigan cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids. The Big Albion Plan’s funding will come from three main sources; 40% grant dollars, 40% opportunity zone funds and developers, and 20% historic tax credits. This means funding comes from many different entities, including the city, banks, the state, and the opportunity zone. The next major step in the project is getting all of those entities to invest at the same time. 

Another significant portion of the Big Albion Plan is the use of federal historic tax credits. This source of funding helps to secure capital for the project and it will help preserve the uniquely historic look of Albion’s downtown. To assist with this part of the project, Johnston brought in Jessica Flores, owner of Preservation Forward. Come back for part two of the blog to learn more about the historic tax credit and Flores’ work in the revitalization efforts.

About the Author

Tasi Martinez is a senior at Albion College majoring in Political Science and Business. Martinez is also a member of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service.

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