WSW: Faster Trains And "Dark Stores"

May 12, 2016

Amtrak station in Kalamazoo - file photo
Credit WMUK

Economic developers see an opportunity to take advantage of future high speed rail service in Southwest Michigan. 

MiBiz staff writer Nick Manes recently wrote about the Right Place in Grand Rapids looking into routing trains out of Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo. The idea is to take advantage of improvements in tracks that will eventually allow faster train travel to Chicago.

Manes says the talks are very much in the preliminary stages. He says there’s no indication that anyone has discussed the costs of changing train routes or the logistics of getting trains from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo. Manes says

“it’s fair to say it’s an idea, and that people are very interested in that idea.” 

But he says it’s not more than that right now.

In August, Manes explained the “Dark Store” theory that retailers have used to get lower property tax bills from the Michigan Tax Tribunal. 

Kalamazoo County State Representative Dave Maturen is working on legislation to close the loophole. Maturen has a background in real estate appraisal, and says his bill is more comprehensive than earlier proposals. The legislation has 27 co-sponsors, which Manes says shows concern on the part of many lawmakers.

But Manes says Maturen is prepared for pushback from retailers who are seeking lower tax bills. Manes says he did talk with the Commercial Real Estate Association for West Michigan. They have yet to take a position on the proposal.