Grand Opening of Landmark $20 Million Lafayette Place Development Spurs Revitalization of Downtown Pontiac, Local Neighborhoods

Jan 28, 2013, 10:23 ET from Michigan State Housing Development Authority

Renovation of historic Sears building and upscale 10 West Lofts, opening of Lafayette Market, Anytime Fitness and 18 new Unity Park homes culminates Pontiac's successful 2-year economic transformation with MSHDA, Land Bank 

PONTIAC, Mich., Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) today joined state legislators and leaders representing the city of Pontiac, Oakland County, builders, Realtors, lenders and the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority to celebrate the grand opening of the Lafayette Place development, a nearly $20 million renovation and restoration of downtown Pontiac's historic Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store building.


The project's completion by West Construction Services, a Pontiac-based developer specializing in historical preservation and architectural excellence, is the city's newest success story. The grand opening marks the end of Michigan Land Bank's $13.7 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) initiative in Pontiac, but state and local officials say the collaboration has laid the groundwork for future economic investment and partnerships.

"An exciting transformation is under way in Pontiac," said MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley. "This unprecedented effort has created permanent private sector jobs, extended the dream of homeownership to proud first-time buyers, removed blight and improved public safety, generated new investment in Pontiac's Downtown Business District and revitalized one of our state's largest municipalities."

"The accomplishments we have achieved by working together in Pontiac represent a model success story that is helping to move Michigan's economy forward," said Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority Executive Director Kim Homan.

Highlights of the two-year NSP2 initiative coordinated by MSHDA in partnership with the state Land Bank as well as Pontiac and Oakland County leaders include:

  • Today's announcement by West Construction Services President and CEO Kyle Westberg that Lafayette Place Lofts' 46 residential apartments will become fully occupied with tenants by March 1. Rents for the one- and two-bedroom lofts range from $675 to $1,295 per month.
  • West Construction Services' renovation of the 80,000-square-foot structure, located in the city's Commercial Historic District, is the largest construction investment in downtown Pontiac in approximately 30 years.
  • GJ & JA Investments LLC's renovation of a 24,000-square-foot historic building into 10 West Lofts, a multiuse facility featuring 14 loft apartment units and nearly 9,000 square feet of retail space. The project's funding was supported by $2.4 million of direct NSP2 residential investment, which will leverage nearly $700,000 in private investment for the redevelopment of 8,900 square feet of retail space.
  • Lafayette Market, a full-line fresh food market, delicatessen, caterer and cafe on the ground floor of Lafayette Place, is the first fresh foods market to open within the city in four decades.
  • The creation of more than 300 construction jobs through Pontiac NSP2 investments, as well as an estimated 75 permanent positions generated by 10 West Loft apartments and the Lafayette Place development's opening of Lafayette Market and the Anytime Fitness center and juice bar.
  • The demolition of 47 vacant and blighted dangerous buildings in the Unity Park neighborhood and in NSP2-eligible neighborhoods surrounding Pontiac's Downtown Business District. Elimination of blight has helped increase property values and improved the perception of public safety within the community.
  • The construction of 18 new single-family homes in the Unity Park neighborhood, located just southeast of the Downtown Business District. All 18 homes have buyers who have executed purchase agreements, and nine mortgage loans have closed to date, with the remaining expected to close before March 31. The new homes have seen a 20 percent increase in appraised values from construction start to loan closings.
  • The $14.7 million in direct NSP2 project investments have leveraged nearly $11 million in private project investments.
  • The Land Bank's acquisition of nearly 60 properties in Pontiac that could be used by future developers or as side lots for local homeowners. The Land Bank anticipates the acquisition will stimulate an additional $6 million in Pontiac housing investments by 2016.

The $19.8 million Lafayette Place project was funded by Michigan's NSP2 initiative, a federal New Markets and Historic Tax Credit partnership with U.S. Bank, the Michigan Magnet Fund (MMF), Great Lakes Capital Fund LLC, State Historic Tax Credits, Brownfield Tax Credits, KeyBank and other private lending institutions.

"Lafayette Place is an incredible development, and we were excited to utilize and renew the existing, historic structure of the Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store," Westberg said. "The building stood as a symbol of strength during the Great Depression, and I believe it stands as that today. We have seen an influx of businesses coming to Pontiac since we broke ground on the development, and we hope that Lafayette Place continues to serve as a catalyst for further commercial growth in downtown Pontiac."

Among the dignitaries who served as keynote speakers during today's media event were Pontiac Mayor Leon Jukowski; Pontiac City Council President Lee A. Jones; state Sen. Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion); state Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills); Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner; Michigan Association of Realtors Senior Vice President Kathie Feldpausch; Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan Chief Executive Officer Mike Stoskopf; and representatives of local developers, including Home Renewal Systems, Venture Inc., Community Housing Network and 10 West Loft Apartments.

SOURCE Michigan State Housing Development Authority