Blight removal grant to be well used at Sawyer

Hats off to the Marquette County Land Bank Authority which has received preliminary approval for a $486,385 grant to demolish several multi-unit residential structures and garages at K.I. Sawyer.

The land bank authority has completed several worthwhile projects over the past couple of years and this latest effort will be no exception.

Marquette County Treasurer Anne Giroux said the money will fund removal of 15 buildings and 21 garages that have been vacant since the U.S. Air Force Base closed at K.I. Sawyer in 1995.

Grant funding is available in Michigan through a 2012 Blight Elimination Program, which is the result of a lawsuit settlement with five of the country’s largest mortgage service providers.

Of a total of $97.2 million allocated to Michigan, $25 million is being directed to blight elimination. Of that money, $10 million is slated for projects in the city of Detroit, with the remaining $15 million to be distributed to the demolition projects in communities across the state.

Giroux said grant funding for demolition projects is difficult to obtain.

The Blight Elimination Program funding favored projects situated near schools, which likely helped the K.I. Sawyer blight project gain approval. Unfortunately, a $1 million grant request to demolish Marquette’s former Holy Cross Orphanage was not approved.

The dilapidated structures at K.I. Sawyer are expected to be foreclosed on April 1 at K.I. Sawyer for non-payment of property taxes. Those structures would be demolished this year and expected to take three to four months to raze. The buildings -which have been targeted by vandals and are in advanced disrepair- are located along Warhawk, Raider, Stratofort and Panther streets, near the Sawyer Elementary School.

Last November, the county board voted unanimously to approve a letter of support for the project. Pending the grant funding being awarded and the properties being foreclosed on, the county also approved exercising its option to purchase the parcels and transfer them to the authority.

A minimum bid of $88,782 will be offered by the county, which is the amount of the delinquent taxes on the properties. Funding for the purchase will be derived from the Marquette County Treasurer’s Foreclosure Fund.

Giroux said the work to tear the structures down will begin this spring and likely take three or four months to complete.

We look forward to additional positive projects from the land bank authority in the future.