Sports complex in Benton Township clears second hurdle

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The Renaissance Sports Complex Project took a big step forward Tuesday.

Benton Township trustees approved the brownfield plan for Renaissance Enterprises to develop 98.87 acres into a sports complex.

The proposed project cleared its first hurdle after the plan was approved by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners at a June 2 meeting. Now that the township has approved the plan, state approval is also required before the developer can break ground.

Dan Fette, Berrien County Community Development director, presented the brownfield plan and explained why it was needed.

Fette said the brownfield tax increment reimbursement for the cost of building new public infrastructure was needed to support the development.

The activities eligible for tax reimbursement consist of the extension of municipal water, sanitary and storm water systems from Empire Avenue to Britain Avenue. Euclid Avenue would also need to be rebuilt, including a new base and surface paving.

At 2200 E. Britain Avenue, the area is across from the county’s emergency management center and about half-mile from Lake Michigan College. Total costs eligible for reimbursement with tax revenue are estimated to be about $1.7 million, Fette said.

The $12 million complex takes its name from the Renaissance Athletic Club, which is owned and operated by Sean Todman.

“If we can get approvals in place, I know Sean is itching to get this thing going,” Fette said. “We have a lot of work to do still. There are site plans that have to be approved, the state approval is still required, private financing has to be put in place. We’re hopeful we can get this accomplished this summer, and I think the whole development is estimated to take 12 to 14 months to build.”

The proposed development calls for three basketball courts, a football field and three later basketball courts, a variety of intramural and semi-competitive sports leagues.

Trustees and township officials expressed their support of the complex prior to taking a roll-call vote.

“We’re excited and hopeful that this complex will work as an economic stimulator by attracting more businesses into Benton Charter Township,” Treasurer Debbie Boothby said. “It’s going to bring employment opportunities as well as sporting opportunities.”

According to documents provided to trustees, the complex would create about 20 jobs on site.

Other agenda items

The site plan for the proposed Staybridge Suites hotel at 1275 Cinema Way was approved by trustees.

The Staybridge Suites will be across from the Hilton Garden Inn and next to another hotel that is still in construction – the Marriott Spring Hill Suites Hotel.

The next board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. June 21 at the Benton Township Municipal Building.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 8, 2016)

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