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Local Resources

Downtown Development


Downtown Development Authority (DDA) - The state of Michigan passed the Downtown Development Authority Act (PA 197 of 1975) to give municipalities a tool for improving the quality of downtown areas.  The DDA is responsible for the planning and implementation of economic development and prevention of deterioration in the downtown business district. The Gaylord DDA, established in 1985 has utilized Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to construct and expand streetscapes, improve underground utilities, construct the Pavilion on Court, support façade improvements and host and promote activities designed to boost retail traffic in the district.  A TIF district allows the DDA to capture property taxes on the taxable value above the value of the district when it was established.


Commercial Redevelopment and Commercial Rehabilitation Tax Abatements - Both of these acts allow the City to grant a tax abatement similar to an Industrial Facilities Tax abatement (50% reduction of local mills levied, but excludes land and personal property for new projects and freezes existing taxable value for rehabilitated buildings, but also excludes land and personal property) for certain qualified projects in the downtown district.  These abatements are an additional incentive that would have to be judiciously used since a TIF district is in effect in the Gaylord downtown business district.


Façade Improvement Program - The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Community Assistance program makes available Community Development Block Grant funding to improve facades in the traditional downtown business district (zero lot line buildings).  The program will provide up to $400,000 in grant funds with a minimum 25% match although the MEDC wants to see a higher match amount and will rank projects accordingly.  Improvements funded include front and rear façade elements including stucco, wood trim, cedar shake shingles, painting, windows, doors, lighting and all associated framing and structural work.  Signage is not eligible.  Matching funds are required and can consist of owner cash and/or investments in HVAC, plumbing, electrical, roofs and other building improvements are eligible for use as matching funds.  Architectural design (final design) and construction management are also eligible as match. 

The program is structured so that the building owner chooses a local architect who enters into a preliminary design agreement with the Gaylord DDA. The architect prepares a preliminary design for the building façade improvement and cost estimate based on the Gaylord Alpine motif. The building owner will need to determine the level of investment he or she is willing to make and identify how much will be “in-kind” building renovation and how much will be in cash. Once we have identified the project’s source and uses of funds we will submit a proposal package to the MEDC for review. If the MEDC accepts our proposal, we will be invited to submit a Notice of Intent (a pre-application) to apply for the grant funding. Once the NOI is submitted and approved, we will be invited to submit a full grant application and complete an environmental review. The project will commence once the application has been approved and environmental review completed. Based on the past two years we would anticipate a May start for final design with construction completed by November.


Signature Building Program - Grants are available for communities seeking acquisition of vacant, partially vacant or substantially underused buildings located in traditional downtowns for rehabilitation into a commercial/mixed use building that will result in job creation.  CDBG funding can only be utilized for property acquisition activities and the community must demonstrate the financial capacity to rehabilitate the building in order to qualify.

The Downtown Signature Building Program enables a community to secure a building that is a focal point within the downtown for commercial rehabilitation purposes that will result in job creation, and once redeveloped, would become an asset and make a significant contribution to the overall downtown area. 

The CDBG funding allows the community to acquire property that a developer would not typically purchase and redevelop due to the substantial amount of money required, that its current owners are experiencing challenges with developing and/or maintaining, and is currently being underused.  Therefore, this program gives the community availability/accessibility to funding to stimulate economic opportunity within a downtown.

Priority will be given to communities that: show that the project is a signature, troubled building in the downtown; location is in a historic district or is historically registered; has been vacant, partially vacant or underused for three years or more; has sufficient parking for a rehabilitated building; a structural analysis has been completed for the building; local organizational capacity exists to successfully complete this project including the adoption of a downtown plan; have a full time downtown development professional; demonstrate prior commitment to using downtown economic incentives; and demonstrate that the project is located in a strategically valuable location of the traditional downtown.


MSHDA Apartment Rehab Program - The Rental Rehabilitation is designed to provide funding assistance to improve investor-owned (landlord) properties. This program is accessed through the Otsego County Housing Committee.  MSHDA is giving preference in funding for downtown rental rehabilitation.  Minimum grant investment is $1,000 per unit. Maximum per unit dollar limits are the lesser of $25,000/unit or 75% of project costs for existing units or the lesser of $35,000/unit or 75% of project cost for newly created units. MSHDA funding is generally structured as a loan to be totally forgiven at the end of five years, as long as property owner meets terms and conditions of the lien; May be structured as a full or partial loan; Grantee may adopt stricter guidelines than those set by MSHDA if program is marketable.  A lien period and period of affordability exists for a 5 year lien period; however 51% of units must be affordable only at time of initial occupancy.  If the property is sold, the new owner may either pay back the entire amount of the loan or continue meeting lien requirements for the remaining time period & not repay the assistance.


Non-Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits - The 10% rehabilitation tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of non-historic buildings placed in service before 1936.  As with the 20% Historic rehabilitation tax credit, the 10% credit applies only to buildings-not to ships, bridges or other structures. The rehabilitation must be substantial, exceeding either $5,000 or the adjusted basis of the property, whichever is greater. And the property must be depreciable.  The 10% credit applies only to buildings rehabilitated for non-residential uses. Rental housing would thus not qualify. Hotels, however, would qualify. They are considered to be in commercial use, not residential.  A building that was moved after 1935 is ineligible for the 10% rehabilitation credit. (A moved certified historic structure, however, can still be eligible for the 20% credit.) Furthermore, projects undertaken for the 10% credit must meet a specific physical test for retention of external walls and internal structural framework:

  • At least 50% of the building's external walls existing at the time the rehabilitation began must remain in place as external walls at work's conclusion, and
  • At least 75% of the building's existing external walls must remain in place as either external or internal walls, and
  • At least 75% of the building's internal structural framework must remain in place.


Redevelopment Liquor License - Public Act 501 of 2006 creates new Redevelopment Liquor License (RLL). The RLL is a non-transferable Class C license available to eligible businesses within the City of Gaylord Downtown Development District and is not subject to the normal Liquor Control Commission (LCC) quota system and has a fixed cost of $20,000.

To secure a RLL a business must meet the following requirements:

  • The licensed business must demonstrate that it is engaged in dining, entertainment, or recreation.
  •  Is open to the general public at least 10 hours per day, 5 days per week.
  • Has a seating capacity of not less than 50 persons.
  • Has least $75,000 for the rehabilitation or restoration of the building over a period of the preceding five years or documentation that this amount will be expended prior to the issuance of the RLL.
  • Demonstrates to the LCC that it has attempted to secure an on-premise escrowed license or quota license issued under section 531 of the Liquor Control Act and that one was not readily available within the local unit of government.

An applicant for an RLL will have to meet all other normal liqour license applictaion requirements as well as secure approvals from the City of Gaylord and DDA.