WHR & Cornerstone Alliance Seek Commercial Rehab District for 150 Hilltop in SJ

Hopeful that creation of a Commercial Rehabilitation District for the former Whirlpool Marketing, Product Support and Call Center building located at 150 Hilltop Road in the city will enhance its attractiveness, Cornerstone Alliance is asking the City of St. Joseph City Commission tonight create such a district to help encourage a new use for the site.

As Whirlpool consolidated job sites around Michigan's Great Southwest over the past several years, the more than 79,000 square foot building is on the open market for more than $3.5-million, but Cornerstone and Whirlpool want to make sure that every possible attempt to return the building to its highest and best use is given a chance.

Cornerstone Alliance Business Development Manager Cathy Tilley is asking the City Commission to conduct a public hearing at their November 12th meeting "for the purpose of establishing a Commercial Rehabilitation District" for the 15-acre site just off the corner of Hilltop and Lakeshore Drive in the city.

City Manager John Hodgson says that establishing the district, "Would not commit the city to granting a future tax abatement; a future user would then have to make application based on its specific plans, and the application would have to be approved by both the City Commission (following public notice and another public hearing) and the State of Michigan."

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The 79,000 square foot building was built in 1990 and features multiple private offices, a reception area, conference rooms, a cafeteria, and heavy call center infrastructure already in place.

Whirlpool's Director of Global Real Estate, Mark Richards, dispatched correspondence to Hodgson last week saying that in consultation with Cornerstone Alliance, "It is our understanding that establishing a Commercial Rehabilitation District will differentiate the site and make it more attractive to potential developers and users." He adds, "Whirlpool Corporation supports the establishment of the District and the efforts of the St. Joseph City Commission to attract new business, jobs and investment to the area."

Commercial Rehabilitation Districts are governed by Public Act 210 of 2005, an act which, "encourages the rehabilitation of commercial property by abating the property taxes generated from new investment for a period up to 10 years."

The City Commission will vote tonight on whether or not to set a public hearing for 6pm on Monday, November 12, 2018 to consider establishing a Commercial Rehabilitation District for the property at 150 Hilltop road.