By Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor & Chris Faulknor, Publisher
Just under six weeks after Bob Grove and Mike Dow bought the 475 North Lake St. property for an undisclosed amount of money from developer Devlon Corporation, the property is being—at least temporarily—handed over to Boyne City while officials look for the money to buy it.
The announcement was made by Boyne City Manager Michael Cain at around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday June 10 at the property in question that—by unanimous vote of the Boyne City Commission at its regular Tuesday June 9 meeting—the city would lease the property for one dollar for a time period to last until Dec. 30, 2017.
“A little over a month ago, Mr. Grove and Mr. Dow purchased this piece of property—this piece of property which is a prime piece of property on Boyne City’s waterfront right here on the banks of Lake Charlevoix,” Cain said… “They approached the city after they purchased the property, and were inquiring of us whether the City of Boyne City would be a possible partner for them to work with.”
He added, “Hopefully, the last month-and-a-half, we have demonstrated to them that we are a good potential partner to work with.”
Cain said he has had many discussions with Dow and Grove, as well as the Boyne City Commission, in recent weeks, concerning what the owners would like to see happen with the property in question, which is located across the street from the Family Fare Plaza—formerly Glen’s Market.
“We believe that we’ve found that our goals are very similar,” said Cain… “Ultimately, Mr. Grove and Mr. Dow would like to see this property transferred out of their hands and become the public’s property forever and stay as open space to be used by the public forever.”
Boyne City officials plan to look into ways they may be able to purchase the property.
“We are lining ourselves up and doing some investigations to see if we can get grants to purchase this property in the future,” said Cain. “We’ll be talking to partners from the state and everybody else we can think of to line up funding to purchase this property. But, that’s going to take time.”
He added, “The first opportunity we can apply for the major grants from the state to purchase this property would be in April, 2016—that’s just the application. The actual awarding of that project, if we would be successful in the first round, would be probably another year after that.”
The property has sat as an eyesore for at least 11 years while its former owners tried but failed to build the Boyne Beach Club condos and marina.
“So, the question became, what happens with this property in the meantime?” said Cain. “Does this property remain as it has for many years, a fenced off piece of property inaccessible to the community?”
He added, “In working with Mr. Grove and Mr. Dow, and the city commission, we’ve determined in very short order that there is another way, what we believe is a better way to meet the community’s needs and our individual goals.”
Cain said appraisals will need to be performed in order to determine the value of the property and, then, how much funding the city will need to secure in order to buy it.
“We know it will be a significant undertaking,” said Cain. “But, this community is used to significant undertakings and has found a way to make things happen.”
He added, “And, with Mr. Grove’s and Mr. Dow’s support, we believe we’re making something happen that a few months ago, actually just a few weeks ago, none of us would have even imagined that we were even here today.”
Cain said improving the city’s waterfront has long been one of the city’s major goals.
“In the meantime, it is our goal—the goal of the City of Boyne City and its crews and everybody assembled herein—that we turn this property open, remove this fence as soon as possible,” said Cain. “Our goal, our time-line that we are shooting for, is to have this property in a condition where it can be safely opened to the public by July 4th.”
He added, “When we have our fireworks celebrating our nation’s independence, people will be able to gather on this site. This fence will be gone.”
Cain said the goal is to have the rough area looking well-manicured and safe for public use by July.
Cain then provided a certificate of insurance and a check for one dollar to Grove and Dow.
The necessary parties then signed the lease for the 4.5-acre property.