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LANSING, MI-The state is helping 17 Michigan cities achieve maximum coolness, with a series of $100,000 grants handed out this week. The grants are part of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Cool Cities initiative.

The governor made the announcement about the grants during a press conference at Detroit’s Eastern Market, where $100,000 will go toward redeveloping some of the merchant sheds at the century-old wholesale market. The grants will go to projects in Alpena, Bay City, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Port Huron, Portland, Saginaw, Saugatuck, Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City, Warren and Ypsilanti.

“If Michigan is to be competitive in the 21st Century economy, we have to attract new businesses and retain the highly educated, talented young people who are crucial to building and sustaining businesses in today’s global marketplace,” Granholm says. “Building vibrant, energetic communities is essential to attracting jobs, people and opportunity to our state.”

Among the winning Detroit area projects are the Jefferson East Business Association, which proposes to redevelop three dilapidated buildings into entertainment and technology incubators. They will contain 28 residential loft apartments, a TV production studio and a number of retail and food service establishments.

Also in Detroit, The Southwest Detroit Business Association proposes the renovation of the Odd Fellows Hall located in the heart of the Springwells neighborhood. It will become a key anchor in the multicultural area.

The Ferndale Downtown Development Authority would use the catalyst grant to expand the BUILD Program, which offers a 20% reimbursement for exterior building improvements to properties within the Downtown area. Additional Cool Cities funding would enable up to five properties to be added to the program.

In Flint the grant will be used to restore the exterior of the Republic Bank Building, which will become First Street Lofts, a 16-unit loft development downtown. The grant also will help pay for The City Square Project in Warren, a two-acre urban park that will contain a multipurpose improvement that is a fountain in the warmer months and an ice rink in the winter. The City Square will be bounded by the new city hall and library, high-density residential and commercial retail, and a childcare center.

In Ypsilanti, plans include facility improvements to the Riverside Arts Center and to partner with DTE to expand the project. The project will involve the reutilization of a vacant office structure for retail gallery, studio, office and theater set construction and other Arts Center uses in Ypsilanti’s Downtown historic neighborhood.

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