Bonner Advisory Group will aid in Hanchett property marketing

FUTURE HOMES OR BUSINESSES: The Big Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has recommended  a commercial real estate consulting and marketing services firm to help the city market the former site of the Hanchett building. (Pioneer photo/Adam Gac)

FUTURE HOMES OR BUSINESSES: The Big Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has recommended a commercial real estate consulting and marketing services firm to help the city market the former site of the Hanchett building. (Pioneer photo/Adam Gac)

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has selected a group to help the city envision a use for the former Hanchett Manufacturing property and market that vision to developers across the nation.

The brownfield authority recommends the city hire the Bonner Advisory Group to help redevelop the property adjacent to the Baldwin Street Bridge where the old Hanchett building once stood.

The unanimous recommendation followed an interview meeting with both the Bonner Advisory Group, of Ann Arbor, and CBRE Martin, of Grand Rapids and Lansing, said City Manager Steve Sobers.

“The brownfield authority unanimously liked the answers, attitude, humility and willingness to work with the city of Big Rapids that the Bonner group had,” he said.

An important part of the selection process was choosing a group willing to work with the city’s rough vision for the property’s future – a trait the Bonner Group exhibits, according to Department of Neighborhood Services Director Mark Sweppenheiser.

“They came with some more ideas. Obviously, we know where the market wants to take it, but we kind of want to make it a showcase project,” he said. “Not that there is anything wrong with student housing, but we have a plethora of student housing in the city. We care what happens there. We’re not just the property owner who wants the highest use and most money.”

The city already has been approached by two developers who have expressed interest in the land. One developer is interested in creating young-professional or retiree housing, and the other is interested in mixed-use featuring elements of business and residential. Both plans are feasible, but the city wants to investigate all possibilities before committing to any future development, Sobers said.

“The problem the city has is that our skillset is reviewing the private sectors plans for what they want to build,” he said. “Our skillset is not inventing what should go there.”

Big Rapids City Commissioners will vote on hiring the Bonner Group at their next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at City Hall.

If the Bonner Group is hired, the marketing firm will spend 13 weeks helping the city envision and subsequently market the Hanchett property, Sobers said.

“They will develop a marketing review. They will envision the kinds of business we don’t have here that could be located on that 4-acre site,” he said. “Whatever they decide, they will review with the brownfield authority and try to specifically tune their marketing to what the city would like to see.”

After walking the property, preparing a market analysis and working with the brownfield authority to establish a clear vision for the development, the advisory group will use its professional contacts to market the land to potential developers specializing in whatever development the city decides it would like to pursue, Sobers said.

“It will be a lot of fun to be a part of this planning process,” he said. “Whoever comes in will want the property and some brownfield benefits to aid in development. It will be interesting to see the project come to fruition.”

After the Bonner Group has completed its work, there is no guarantee the property will sell.

“It could take another week or it could take another 10 years to find someone willing to develop,” Sobers said. “Depending on how the stars align, it could go pretty quickly, or not.”

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Adam Gac

Adam is the Pioneer City/County Reporter, covering government in Mecosta County. He can be reached by e-mail at agac@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8347.

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