NTCIC closed its Main Street Small Deal Fund and made the fund’s initial investment into the Owosso Armory redevelopment in Owosso, MI. NTCIC’s Small Deal Fund provides low-cost, flexible financing in amounts of up to $2 million, to help revitalize economically distressed historic Main Street communities, downtowns, and commercial districts.
The Armory in downtown Owosso is now the property of the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce after its leaders closed on a complex and unique financing package. This means the building – 102 years old and vacant for a decade – will soon see new life with a $5 million renovation that will create class-A office space and collaborative incubator and community initiatives in a region already seeing revitalization.
Built in 1915 and listed on the coveted National Register of Historic Places, the building’s exterior will be fully preserved while its spacious, 36,000-square-foot interior will be transformed into space that is state-of-the-art yet reflective of the facility’s history. During World War I, soldiers from the 144th National Guard unit deployed from the Armory for France. These soldiers were among the first American troops to set foot on German soil during the war. Following the war, the building served as a space for community events, prize fights, weddings and musical artists, including American pop rock band Grand Funk Railroad and “The Godfather of Shock Rock,” Alice Cooper. In 2007, the 144th left for a modern facility and The Armory has been vacant since.
“My great-grandfather was a member of the 144th and served proudly in WWI,” says Jay Slingerland, chamber board chair. “There has been support for The Armory project. Business, community and government leaders, as well as current and former residents, recognize its potential impact not just on Owosso’s downtown, but on the entire region.”
“Imagine being able to walk to a castle for lunch, watch a local band play right outside your office door or go to dinner at one of 15 restaurants within walking distance. A wave of redevelopment and vitality is happening all around, from a thriving manufacturing industry to expanding arts and cultural offerings, including the renovated Lebowsky Center just a few blocks away. It’s inspiring for The Armory to be the newest exciting initiative.”
Part of what makes this particular deal historic is that SRCC has secured both federal Historic Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits through the National Trust Community Investment Corporation. This is the first such pairing in the nation as part of an NTCIC national main street initiative called the Small Deal Fund. It is worth $1.24 million to The Armory project.
In September 2016, SRCC also received a $1.47 million grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Brownfield Tax Increment Financing reimbursements have been negotiated with the city and approved through a 381 Workplan by MEDC. Additionally, chamber cash reserves have been utilized as needed.