SOUTH HAVEN — A multi-million dollar plan to reconstruct a portion of Center Street in downtown South Haven is moving forward.
“We are advancing on the reconstruction of Center Street,” City Manager Brian Dissette said. “The intent is to begin construction after Labor Day.”
The $4.5 million project will include a complete overhaul of Center from Williams Street to Michigan Avenue. Improvements will include new water and sewer mains, resurfacing of the street, new sidewalks and landscaping improvements. When finished, Center will look very similar to Williams and Phoenix streets, which were reconstructed within the past decade.
Funding to finance the project is now starting to fall into place, according to Dissette.
“We have tentative confirmation of grant money from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC),” Dissette said. That grant, if approved, would be for $870,000.
The next step in receiving the grant will occur June 17 when the city council hosts a public hearing at 7 p.m. at city hall to gather comment on the application.
The grant, if obtained, would come from the MEDC’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The city’s Downtown Development Authority would provide the required matching grant in the amount of $866,500.
City officials plan to use the grant money for the portion of the project that includes new sidewalks, landscaping, street furniture and other amenities to help attract not only vehicular traffic, but pedestrians to Center Street.
Each year, Michigan receives approximately $30 million in federal CDBG funds, out of which various projects are funded through the state, according to Michigan State University Extension. Grants are designed to help municipalities such as South Haven improve their infrastructure and make their communities more desirable places to live.
The city also has received tentative approval for a $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s rural infrastructure program.
More funds to pay for the Center Street infrastructure portion of the project are expected to come from $1.3 million worth of loans through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s State Revolving Loan Fund and Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. If the city qualifies, it could be eligible for up to a 75 percent forgiveness rate on the loans.
One of the key drivers in the city’s ability to apply for and obtain grant funding and loans for Center Street improvements is the development of a new $4 million, three-story residential and retail establishment at Center and Huron streets, and the reconstruction of a conglomeration of retail establishments on the northern end of Center, known as the “Hale block.”
The historic block of buildings, extending from Quaker to Phoenix Street, has been purchased by South Haven developer Randy Locker of Locker & Locker Properties LLC. His company intends to redevelop the block, which contains a three-story building, for commercial and residential uses, according to Dissette.