New rehab district will help $6.2 million Doherty renovations

May 10, 2019

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Plans are underway to upgrade and restore the original part of the Doherty Hotel.

Since 1924, the Doherty Family has owned and operated the historic Doherty Hotel in downtown Clare, which has been expanded and modernized.

Now plans are underway to begin a $6.2 million renovation of the original building, the historic hotel and bar.

Those plans became more of a reality when the Clare City Commission approved the establishment of a Public Act 255 Commercial Rehabilitative District corresponding with the boundaries of the Downtown Development District.

The City’s action allows Doherty owners Dean and Ann Doherty to apply for a Commercial Exemption Certificate and Federal Historic Tax credits, which assists commercial businesses in renovating and expanding aging facilities and with the development of new facilities in the district.

In his report at the City meeting, City Manager Ken Hibl said, “The Doherty Hotel, with the assistance of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Middle Michigan Development Corporation (MMDC) and the consulting firm of Spence Brothers of Saginaw, has been developing plans to renovate the original aging section of the hotel for the past year. The Doherty Hotel has submitted a request to MEDC for financial assistance. MEDC has positively indicated fiscal assistance will be provided, but advised they believe it appropriate that local government provide evidence of its support of the project and suggested that the City consider establishing a Commercial Rehabilitation District to allow the Doherty Hotel to apply for a Commercial Exemption Certificate, thereby defraying local taxation on the project improvements for the period (up to 12 years) of the exemption certificate granted.

In a press release, Dean said, “A primary focus of our project has always been improving the façade of the historic portion of the property. Rather than get bigger, we wanted to get better. While the updated rooms and bar will be important, we wanted to bring back the historic façade to downtown Clare.”

The Doherty project, which includes the services of Cornerstone Architects of Grand Rapids, will encompass the renovation of the interior and exterior of the original hotel to its original condition, and the renovation of the bar area and 38 old rooms on the second, third and fourth floors to develop 21 modernized and enlarged guest suites, including three with kitchenettes for extended stay visitors.

The façade on the building will be restored, masonry restored and storefront windows added on the first floor reflecting the buildings original design.

Hibl said construction should start in late June to early July. “The Doherty Hotel intends to submit an exemption certificate application to the City for consideration at its May 20th meeting. MEDC will subsequently make a decision related to the amount of financial aid it will provide for this project.”

Establishing the Commercial Rehabilitation District is not just for the Doherty project, Hibl emphasized at the City meeting, saying their request prompted the action. “This is a good, good program for the City.” He said although the nighttime (permanent) population of the City is about 3,100, the daytime population is around 7,100. He added that, “Similar to the IFEs (Industrial Facilities Exemptions) granted by the City, the commercial exemptions approved (if any) are for the value of the improvements made to respective building or facilities within the district – not to the existing tax base.”

In a surprise notification from Dr. Eric Hammerberg, The City learned Tuesday that the $180,000 bequest from Dr. Kuno Hammerberg’s estate was supposed to go to the Clare County Community Foundation “for a civic center in Clare or [to] otherwise support recreational or cultural needs of the City.”

In an email to the CCCF, City Manager Ken Hibl said he would have Treasurer Steve Kingsbury forward the $180,000 check to the Clare Community Foundation. He said he would await word on their “guidance in respect to the process, procedures and guidelines the foundation establishes to allow access and disbursement of the funds.”

In another matter, the annual Middle Michigan Development Annual Report was given by MMDC President Jim McBryde and MMDC’s Clare County Director Pam O’Laughlin. McBride reported $34 million invested in Clare and Isabella Counties and various successes and grants for the area over the past year and multiple business expansions “on the books.”
Other business at the meeting included:

*Approval of a five-year weed control project for Lake Shamrock with Progressive for $30,000 per year, the cost shared with 100 property owners around the lake. The annual cost for lakefront owners will be approximately $150 per year.

*Approval of airport lot leases, a new one for Bryan Davis and a change of ownership lease for Jeff Crawford.

*A first reading of an amendment to the City’s ordinance codes to correct the codes related to civil infractions.

*Approval of a reimbursement resolution for the rehabilitation of two iron removal filters at the Water treatment facility.

*Approval of an engineering agreement with Gourdie Fraser and Associates for the $1.5 million Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation Project.

*Approval to reimburse Alro Steel for overcharges in their water and sewer service. Due to the installation of new water meters with a non- stationary zero, causing the meters to be read incorrectly, the

*Recognition of Betty Frank for her membership on the Cherry Grove Cemetery Advisory Board. She is relocating to southern Michigan.

*Appointment of Stacey Pechacek and Nick Loomis to fill vacancies on the City’s Planning Commission.

*Appointment of Patrick Walton to fill a vacancy on the Cherry Grove Cemetery Advisory Board.

*Approval of bills totaling $108,810.67.

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