Village purchases prime piece of property

Village of Kalkaska officials are calling their recent purchase of more than two acres of land a huge step toward reaching their downtown redevelopment plans. On Friday, the Village closed a purchase deal on the old Erb Lumber property located behind the east side of Cedar Street, which is considered Kalkaska's main thoroughfare.

Village of Kalkaska President Jeff Sieting says, "If you look at it like this, very few communities own prime commercial property in their downtown corridor, I mean itâ??s huge!"

Sieting is celebrating the purchase of the old Erb Lumber property, located behind the Kalkaska Trout Statue.

Officials used about $65,000 dollars from the general fund to buy the parcel, which now gives them control of nearly all of east side of the 300 Block of Cedar Street in downtown Kalkaska.

Sieting says, "When this stuff is owned privately, each individual can decide what they want to put on there and weâ??re limited to what we can say yes or no to. This gives us the opportunity to have more control on what we envision for that corridor. We have a beautiful, historic district on the Westside of US 131, and then on the east you can see itâ??s kind of rundown, it allows us to go in and clean it up and offer pristine clean property to potential developers..."

This purchase is a direct result of the Grand Vision Master Plan which was first presented two years ago. Itâ??s also a result of the Kalkaska Connects Project, a shared vision of the Village Council, Downtown Development Authority and Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, to create a much more inviting presence to the village.

Traverse City Chamber of Commerce President Doug Luciani says, "This potential to assemble the entire parcel is unheard of, to do that in an area that's already built. This land can be used for affordable housing, retail, entertainment, restaurantsâ?¦ it can be centerpiece for Kalkaska, what a gateway as people head up north."

Traverse City Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Village to take ownership of the old Kalkaska Chamber of Commerce building on the block, and now all that is left is to acquire is the former bank. Traverse City Chamber of Commerce President Doug Luciani, "The Village does have an option to purchase that, almost a â??right of first refusal.â?? As we go out and look for developers to develop the whole, or part of the parcel, we can add that building in as part of the cost of the parcel."

Right now, the Village is working with the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to secure grants, which will be used to clean up the property. Sieting says that they estimate that $15,000 to $30,000 vehicles drive through the Kalkaska downtown corridor every day. The of this redevelopment plan is to get tourists to stop in Kalkaska rather than just drive through to get to destinations like Traverse City or Petoskey.