Ludington’s city councilors approved a 12-year tax break on what some say is the city’s oldest commercial building at its meeting Monday.
The tax break, provided through an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act certificate, is intended to incentivize a $250,000 project to improve the building, located at 102 Second Street.
The taxable value will be frozen for 12 years before being raised to reflect its improved state.
Plans for the building involve a fitness studio, event venue and two short-term rental condominiums. The developers behind the project are Barry and Cindy Neal, as well as their daughter, Madison Cota, and her husband, Mike.
Half of the first floor will be occupied by M. Wellness Fitness and Nutrition. The fitness studio, run by Madison Cota, was previously located on James Street before closing in September. It is expected to be complete by November.
The other half will contain Second Street Celebrations, a new event venue with capacity for more than 45 guests. The venue will be run by the Neals and Cotas. It is expected to be complete by December.
Upstairs, two two-bedroom condominiums will be installed for short-term renting. The condominiums are expected to be completed in 2022 and 2023.
Councilor Cheri Stibitz, who represents the building’s ward, said she’s “very excited” to see the end result.
“I just support (Barry Neal) wholeheartedly because I think he’s going to do great things with this property, and it deserves to be rehabilitated,” Stibitz said.
The building was built around 1872, according to City Assessor Daniel Kirwin. It has been unused since 2008, according to the application for the tax break.
In an inspection, Kirwin found that the building has no insulation in the exterior walls, no bathrooms and is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
An OPRA certificate was granted to a different developer in 2015, but was revoked after improvements were never made.
City Manager Mitch Foster said that Kirwin and Building Inspector Shaun Reed will review the project’s progress at regular intervals to confirm the work is being completed. He added that he’s working with Kirwin and Community Development Director Heather Tykoski to keep track of properties with ORPA certificates.
The council heard a report from Stibitz on a green burial system planned for Lakeview Cemetery.
An area in the northeast portion of the cemetery is being eyed for green burials, Stibitz said.
A green burial is when an unembalmed deceased body is put in the ground in an “earth-friendly” vessel such as a shroud or a wooden or wicker casket, Stibitz said.
Trees, shrubs and ferns present in the proposed green burial area would be preserved, Stibitz said.
Councilor Kathy Winczewski said green burials are “quicker” and a “much more personal, private” event.
Stibitz said City Attorney Ross Hammersley is working on an ordinance that would enable the cemetery to perform green burials. The ordinance would be reviewed by the cemetery, parks and recreation committee before being recommended to the city council.
Household hazardous waste
The council heard a report from Dani McGarry, district manager of Mason-Lake Conservation District, on the household hazardous waste collection held Aug. 21.
Twenty-seven volunteers put in more than 90 hours of work collecting materials like chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, automotive fluids and other “things you don’t want someone to dump in the creek out back,” McGarry said.
From Mason County, 30 percent of material was considered household hazardous waste. Electronics and appliances made up 29 percent. Pharmaceutical and sharp items, like needles, made up 24 percent.