‘Apple Blossom’ soon to bloom


Staff Writer

IRON RIVER – Renovation work to transform the former Central School in Iron River into the 22-unit Apple Blossom Apartment complex is scheduled to start Monday.

Iron River City Manager Perry Franzoi said that workers recently completed the lead paint abatement of the building.

All submitted samples passed the clearance test, he added.

“Developer the Hovey Companies has taken control of the building effective March 25,” said Franzoi. “They now own the building.”

The Hovey Companies, which is based out of DeWitt, Mich., also worked on remodeling the former Crystal Manor in Crystal Falls into the Crystal View Apartments.

Wolverine Building Group of Grand Rapids, Mich. will serve as the general contractor for the project, said Franzoi.

Work on the $6.6 million project is scheduled to be completed in December.

The Apple Blossom Apartments project has been in the works for more than eight years.

Located at 218 West Cayuga Street, the building was constructed in 1902 as a high school. It was also used as an elementary and middle school before closing in 1980.

The building has been unoccupied since that time. It went through a series of owners, with the last owner owing back taxes on the property.

Due to the back taxes, the property was set to revert back to the state of Michigan in 2004.

That’s when the Iron River Downtown Development Authority (DDA) stepped in. The DDA purchased the property in November 2004, then started researching how the building could accommodate different housing options.

There were several delays to the project.

First, there was an unfavorable tax credit market. Then, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) determined that the DDA would need to remove some underground tanks on the property, and asbestos and lead paint in the building.

With a Brownfield loan of more than $700,000, the DDA was able to address most of the environmental concerns in 2008.

In early 2012, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) approved the DDA’s request for tax credits.

The lead paint abatement then began in late 2012.

“From the DDA’s perspective, we are overjoyed that the project is coming to fruition,” said Ron Basso of the DDA. “The DDA views this as an opportunity for economic growth in the area, as residents will need services offered by our local businesses.”

“Jim Gibula, the chair of the DDA, and Terry Tarsi, our mayor, along with the rest of the DDA and our city council, have worked tirelessly to make this a reality,” he added.

When completed, the Apple Blossom Apartments will be an affordable housing complex similar to the Crystal View Apartments.

A ceremonial ground breaking event will take place later this spring.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.