Downtown Battle Creek Real Estate Improvement Fund

Executive Summary Recent months have seen a momentum surge in downtown Battle Creek, with new apartments, restaurants, offices and brewpubs. Some have already arrived; others are following close behind. However, some entrepreneurs, property owners and existing business owners continue running into two major hurdles: (1) challenge finding the right space, and, (2) even when space is identified, issues with historic buildings, blighted facilities and vacant spaces. Problems with building code compliance and other obstacles put the cost and scope of projects out of reach for many.

This grant initiative helps address those gap-financing issues. The program offers businesses easier access to resources imperative for long-term success. By making eligible improvements to fixed assets/structures, prospective tenants, entrepreneurs and property owners can contribute to the continued transition in downtown Battle Creek.

Projects will also spur job creation – including for low to moderate-income (LMI) individuals in the census tract. Downtown undertakings can benefit related demographics through growth of construction and buildout jobs, and ongoing direct and indirect jobs. Moreover, the Real Estate Improvement Fund will serve LMI and other individuals by improving public spaces that are in a general state of deterioration. Awarded projects will emphasize charitable purposes, including support of LMI housing, and the advancement of minority and women-owned businesses or other related ventures.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) and the City of Battle Creek (City) are committed to ensuring the grant resources are meaningfully and properly deployed to last for generations to come. To help meet these and other challenges, the grant focuses on fixed assets to rehabilitate vacant properties and storefronts along the downtown corridor.

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Revitalizing vacant properties and abandoned/blighted buildings in tandem with new business developments make sense for downtown Battle Creek, helping to reduce blight, improve vacancy rates downtown, improve code compliance, address structural and mechanical issues, and provide other upgrades. The program narrows the gap between value and costs of construction, which have previously been barriers to downtown economic vitality

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