First National Bank Building
Michigan| Posted: 12/04/2007
Project Goal: Conversion of former bank office building into loft apartments and ground-floor offices
Developer: Uptown Reinvestment Corporation
Tax Credit Investor: Bank of America CD
Total Development Cost: $6,270,000
Key Project Financing:
Tax credit equity investment (federal historic and New Markets) from the National Trust Community Investment Fund:$1,320,000
Grants from foundations and state: $1,495,000
Loan from Fifth Third Bank:$1,350,000
Equity from state historic and Brownfield tax credits:$565,000
Construction – 39
Permanent – 52
The First National Bank Building was built in downtown Flint, Michigan, in 1925 during the city’s auto boom. It was one of the first “skyscrapers” built using a steel frame. Throughout its history, the seven-story building has housed banking, retail and office uses. Most recently, Republic Bank occupied the ground and second floors while the upper floors have been vacant since the 1980s. In 2001, the Bank donated the building to Uptown Reinvestment Corporation for inclusion in a coordinated downtown redevelopment effort.
The Property and Project
Uptown Reinvestment converted the vacant upper floors of the 38,651 gross square foot property into 16 market-rate, loft-style apartments, with 5,700 square feet of storage space in the basement. This included a $1.2 million renovation of the building that returned it to its original appearance -- including the cornice, radius-top windows, terra cotta sheathing, columns, ornamentation and original lobby. Now known as the First Street Loft Building, the one- and two- bedroom loft units feature hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, open floor plans, and oversized windows.
Republic Bank continues to occupy the first and second floors, with a newly renovated common entrance. The property is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is located in the older downtown area of Flint, a city of 125,000. The building sits on South Saginaw Street, the main commercial thoroughfare of downtown Flint.
Preservation and Community Impact
First Street Lofts is part of a larger downtown revitalization effort that includes streetscape, parking and security improvements, and the rehabilitation of twelve buildings in the three-block area -- nine of which will be redeveloped by Uptown. The project is located within a state renaissance zone and will receive a property tax abatement. The project is also located in a low-income census tract, making it eligible for New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC). The census tract meets several of the NMTC program’s “additional distress” criteria, including a poverty rate of 45% and an average income level that is 39% of the area’s median family income.
The First Street Lofts is designated as a Cool City Catalyst Project and received a $100,000 Cool Cities Catalyst Grant, thus qualifying downtown Flint as a “Cool City Neighborhood in Progress.” In 2007, the project was also awarded a Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.