Council paves way for rubber company to develop Mitchell Corp., Western Concrete property

Pictured in this Cadillac News file photo is the former Western Concrete property with the company’s mailbox in the foreground.

CADILLAC — A new factory may be moving into Cadillac, bringing hundreds of jobs with it.

The city of Cadillac, in cooperation with the Cadillac Industrial Fund, the Cadillac Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has prepared an economic development proposal that combines the 3.08-acre former Western Concrete property and the 8.18-acre former Mitchell Bentley property for the Oldrati Group to develop an 80,000-square-foot facility for rubber and silicone product development.

It is estimated that the factory would create 300 to 400 “high quality jobs,” according to council documents.

To get the project started, the city is requesting a Blight Elimination Program Grant from the State Land Bank Authority to acquire the Western Concrete property and remove blighted vacant industrial buildings and a concrete pad at the site.

Council documents state that providing Oldrati with the 11.26-acre property at no cost and addressing any environmental, site preparation and infrastructure considerations at no net cost will be crucial to the development’s success.

“SLBA support for property acquisition and building and site demolition is critical to meet the goal of this economic development proposal to encourage international industrial investment in the community,” council documents state.

The property is currently owned by the Cadillac Industrial Fund. The city of Cadillac has an agreement with the Cadillac Industrial Fund to acquire the property in order to facilitate the sale to Oldrati.

“The development of an industrial facility on the former Western Concrete site combined with the north portion of the Mitchell Bentley property will be an incredible addition to the industrial base and transform a vacant former industrial site, create jobs and create spinoff redevelopment opportunities,” council documents state.

A little under $600,000 is being requested by the city for demolition, hazardous material abatement, acquisition, administration and other costs.

Also on Monday, the poor condition of Cadillac’s sidewalks will be addressed. The Cadillac City Council is being asked to set a public hearing on a special assessment on downtown business owners to pay for sidewalk improvements.

This decision follows months of public forums and discussions by city officials about the best way to fund the project.

The Downtown Development Authority voted on Oct. 25 to recommend the special assessment to fund the removal and replacement of certain sections of downtown sidewalks. The DDA has spent the last year gathering feedback and data from community members, business owners and downtown property owners.

According to council documents, this action was prompted by the DDA and the city receiving numerous complaints from downtown property owners and business owners regarding the condition of the sidewalks. The city also received feedback from the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce and the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau regarding comments they were receiving about the bad condition of the sidewalks.

In addition to complaints, the DDA also received complaints of injuries sustained in falls stemming from the condition of the sidewalks, including scuffed hands and knees, and ankle injuries.

The proposed special assessment would be for a period of 15 years, although property owners would be able to pay it in full early. The project will include removing and replacing the sidewalk from the building through the brick pavers.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $721,000. The city will be contributing roughly 14% of the total cost, a total of $100,000 from American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The boundaries of the improvement are from Chapin Street to East Nelson Street, excluding the Lofts building and Peterson’s Gas Station.

Council on Monday also is scheduled to discuss a recommendation from the Cadillac Planning Commission to codify the city’s existing short-term rental policy into the zoning ordinance, and set a public hearing on the proposal.

The codification amendments are based on an interpretation of the city’s current zoning ordinance and are outlined in a memo previously written by Cadillac Director of Community Development John Wallace.

When the city’s zoning ordinance was written several decades ago, the rental of housing units either within a home or including an entire home through the use of an online platform such as Airbnb or VRBO was not anticipated or addressed, Wallace wrote in his memo.

Wallace said he reached the conclusion based on an analysis of the existing ordinance that short-term rentals were only permitted in the TS (tourist service) and B-1 and B-2 (auxiliary and general business) districts. In the TS-1, TS-2 and B-1 districts, they are “permitted by right” and in the B-2 District, they are permitted by special use permit. It was noted multiple times during the meeting that the codification does not allow short-term rentals in any areas zoned residential.

During the meeting, Cadillac City Manager Marcus Peccia said that codifying Wallace’s memo will allow the city to proceed with the citywide zoning overhaul process, of which short-term rentals are only a small piece, although they became the main focal point of conversation and debate during past public forums.

Codifying the short-term rental policy drafted by Wallace merely puts on paper what the city had been doing already, allowing city officials to move forward on other aspects of the zoning overhaul discussion.

Peccia said the ultimate direction of short-term rental policy, however, likely will be decided at a later time.

The Cadillac City Council meets Monday at 6 p.m. at the Cadillac Municipal Complex, located at 200 North Lake St.