THE MATTHEWS BUILDING, showing the western side of the structure on Tuesday, July 21. This structure, composed of three adjoining buildings, has been disconcerting to many residents in recent months due to its questionable condition. Earlier in July, a section of the James S. Miner Riverwalk, was closed to the public after a structural engineer provided the city with a report, demonstrating that the walls of the western section facing the Shiawassee River, need bracing and reinforcing. The roof in this section collapsed earlier this year.
John Hambrick, a representative of the building owner, told Owosso City Council that critical emergency repairs on the Matthews Building would begin soon.
Council approved a tax abatement request on the building in the Monday, July 20 virtual meeting.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
The Owosso City Council conducted a public hearing for citizen commentary during the Monday, July 20 virtual meeting. Several residents spoke regarding the proposed rezoning of two parcels beside Trebor Industries at 434 E. Howard St. – currently zoned residential. The rezoning request was for the parcels to move to light industrial. The property owner, Carrie Cobb, was clear to council members that without the rezoning, she would no longer need the land. Residents that commented on the rezoning included Michael Erfourth, Brian Rinier, Darlene Shepherd and others.
Outstanding concerns expressed by residents were about traffic, noise, road use and the thought that the rezoning might cause nearby residential properties to depreciate. The area in the southeast quadrant of the city already includes a mix of residential alongside commercial properties. Some residents have lived for decades in the neighborhood, though.
Trebor Industries is a family owned business offering rack and container repairs. Minus the rezoning, Cobb told the city she wanted to give the property, purchased in auction, back to the city. In actuality, Cobb will likely have to sell the parcels if they no longer are going to meet her business needs.
Cobb’s suggested plan for the property included eliminating a condemned house on the land, though she wanted to keep a shed to store some equipment. She thought demolishing the house would help in beautifying the neighborhood, as she stated she would maintain the grass and also that containers from Trebor would not be stored on those parcels. “I’m trying to improve the neighborhood,” she said.
The Owosso Planning Commission was concerned about more spot zoning in the city and had voted against the rezoning earlier this year. Planning commission offered another option – allowing the shed to remain and the two lots to be combined. However, the property would still be zoned residential.
Council members held an involved discussion regarding the Hamblin Street Rezoning. Cobb did not express interest in the planning commission’s proposal. The rezoning was ultimately denied.
A second public hearing included approving the rezoning request proposed for N. Washington Street from RM-1, Multiple Family Residential District, Low Rise to RM-1, Multiple Family Residential District, Low Rise with Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay. This rezoning involves a new Owosso Residential Development or subdivision that will include 14 single-family residences as defined under PUD. The development, applied through Bailey Park Homes, L3C, under Tom Cook and Anna Owens will create a new neighborhood in Owosso, providing drastically needed middle-income housing. The Owosso Planning Commission had reviewed and approved the rezoning request in May. Owosso City Council moved to approve the rezoning on Monday evening.
The third public hearing on Monday involved the application from Owosso REI Group, LLC for an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate on the Matthews Building in downtown Owosso. The building has been in the newspaper a number of times recently, having drawn a lot of concern from Owosso residents due to it’s decrepit state. In late June, another public hearing on the tax abatement request was held for this property, but the applicant did not show. Nemer Haddad is a current owner of the Matthews Building. Plans submitted to the city for a roughly $8,000,000 rehabilitation project that will see a complete renovation of the building and will allow for both commercial and residential use – are pretty much identical to plans submitted years ago by Randy Woodworth when he owned the property.
John Hambrick was in attendance during the Monday council meeting to represent furthering Haddad’s plans. A number of unknown factors were discussed during the meeting, such as how the pandemic might influence construction prices and that it is possible that the far western section (building) of the Matthews Building might still have to be demolished as it is in a state of complete disrepair. The Matthews Building actually consists of three adjoined buildings that create the structure situated on the corner of Main and Water Streets. The middle building is in poor shape, too.
Owosso City Council moved to approve the tax abatement on the Matthews Building for a 12-year period.
The next city council meeting is planned for Monday, Aug. 3.