July 12–FLINT, Mich. — The proposed downtown 101 room Hilton hotel project could bring about 70 jobs to the city, according to developers.
Tim Herman, of the Uptown Development Corporation, which is heading the project in collaboration with Giffles Webster, a Detroit architectural and interior design group, said they have already begun the search for potential employees.
"We've already talked to the Flint/Genesee Job Corps, Mott Community College and their culinary school. Hopefully, they'll be able to take part in some of these jobs," Herman said.
The $36.5 million dollar project will renovate one building, and demolish two to make room for Buckham Square.
However, some council members are looking for a guarantee that potential new positions will go to Flint residents.
The project, slated to include properties 352 S. Saginaw, 116 W. Kearsley and 126 W. Kearsley, has already been approved for a tax break under the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act, which freezes taxes at existing levels for a set period of time while the property's actual value may increase due to improvements.
Developers appeared again Monday, July 9, before the Flint City Council seeking additional breaks through brownfield redevelopment incentives.
The project's brownfield plan includes $2.5 million of reimbursable fees.
"This particular project is asking for reimbursement of demolition costs, lead asbestos survey costs, infrastructure costs, and site preparation," said Tom Wackerman, of ASTI Environmental.
However, Councilwoman Monica Galloway questioned additional incentives for the project, which currently has no guarantee to hire city residents.
The OPRA approval has frozen the project's tax bill at $25,000 for the next 14 years. After that, it's estimated to generate $530,000 in tax revenue for the city, according to Uptown.
"This community is looking at 14 years before they realize the figure," Galloway said. "I am looking for the day that this community isn't asked to carry that kind of burden on the front-end."
The council suggested the possibility of a community benefits agreement, which Galloway said has worked well in Detroit.
Community agreements are a commitment or contract signed by a developer and groups in a community that guarantees new projects will benefit current residents, according to Good Jobs First, a nationwide policy group focused on corporate and government accountability in economic development.
"The residents of this community need to be a part of that growth, a part of those jobs," Galloway said.
Although the OPRA break for this project has already been approved, Galloway advocated renewable tax breaks for future development projects that would be tied to the benefits the community receives.
The council took no action on the brownfield proposal.