Submitted by Bob Robinson, Chairperson, Eaton County Land Bank
Eaton County Treasurer and Land Bank Chairperson, Bob Robinson, announced that the Eaton County Land Bank Authority received a $653,000 grant from the Michigan State Land Bank Authority on July 1, 2023. Funds will be used to demolish the blighted Horner Mill complex located on the corner of M-50 and M-99 in the city of Eaton Rapids. Lying along the south bank of the Grand River, the historic woolen mill complex – once a nationally renowned woolen manufacturer, has been a contaminated and blighted property for over six decades. The demolition project is a public/private/nonprofit collaboration between the Michigan State Land Bank Authority, Eaton County Land Bank, and property owner, Mill Street LLC.
Collaborative support will be provided by the Eaton Rapids city council. The demolition will make way for site decontamination and a mixed-use property redevelopment in 2024. The blight elimination grant is part of the Michigan State Land Bank’s $21.55 million program to stabilize vacant residential, commercial and industrial buildings, demolish blighted structures, and clean up environmentally contaminated properties.
“In Eaton Rapids, folks told me that for decades, the old Homer Mill has deteriorated and has reduced foot traffic and business in the Island City Historic District,” said State Senator, Sarah Anthony. “So, when crafting the state budget, I was intentional in making sure that there was funding to tear down and rehabilitate this property. I look forward to the positive impact this project will have on the city.”
“The city council and city administration are thrilled to see progress with the Horner Mill property,” said Eaton Rapids Mayor, Pam Colestock. “Thanks to Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson and the Eaton County Land Bank, we finally have positive momentum. While this property at one time was a booming industry in Eaton Rapids, years of blight has given way to a negative environment that has impacted the entire Eaton Rapids community. This grant, with its subsequent demolition and clean-up, will shine a positive light on our community that we can all be proud of.”
The demolition portion of the project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, will remove seven of the eight structures on site. A retail, commercial, and residential mixed-use development is planned for the building located at the intersection of Dexter Road and Main (M-50 at M-99) in 2024.
“—this project will serve as the catalyst for transforming the site into a captivating space that revitalizes Eaton Rapids with fresh energy and enthusiasm. Following the completion of demolition, Mill Street LLC is committed to integrating historical elements from the original site into the new development, ensuring that the rich story of the old Mill lives on,” said Luke Loveland, asset manager for Mill Street LLC.
Mill Street LLC, a private real estate financier, obtained the property in a foreclosure from its previous owner fifteen years ago, and was stalled in redevelopment progress because of the enormous and unaffordable decontamination and demolition costs. The Eaton County Land Bank says the demolition grant for $653,000 will enable Mill Street to repurpose the property as an economic asset to the community.
County Treasurer, Bob Robinson said the project is one of the most significant property rehabilitations in the history of the county. Robinson also serves as chairperson for the Eaton County Land Bank. He says the grant program is a prime example of how the Land Bank can help infuse new life into old, defunct properties through public/private partnerships that attract new economic vitality into our communities.
“Removing these dangerous and unsightly structures is a sentimental but necessary step in transforming this blighted old factory into something new and productive,” he added.
“Razing the old structures will pave way for new economic development and more space for residence and businesses,” said State Representative, Angela Witwer. “This reinvestment in Eaton Rapids will make downtown a better place to live and work.”
For more information on the Eaton County Land Bank Authority, go to https://www.eatoncounty.org/885/Eaton-County-Land-Bank-Authority.