Birchwood Mall to be switched to apartments


KINGSFORD — The former Birchwood Mall will be converted into apartments under a proposal presented at the Kingsford Council meeting Monday.

Ken Dillinger, president of UP Engineers & Architects in Iron Mountain, told the council that property owner Bill Neuens plans to start phase one once the project is approved.

The property is zoned B-1 Community Business, so a zoning amendment would be needed to allow construction of one- and two-bedroom apartments, City Manager Tony Edelbeck said. Approval may not come until early February.

Under the proposal, phase one of the three-phase project would install 27 units in the north end of the building, which formerly had the Dollar Store and mall offices. This would include three efficiency units, eight one-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom units.

The second phase, planned for the former JC Penney and auto parts store area, would have 22 units — two efficiency and 20 one-bedroom.

The last phase would have 40 units — five efficiency, 20 one-bedroom and 15 two-bed — and would be in the former Sears site.

The proposal also includes four townhouses, with 22 units each, to be constructed in the parking lot.

Details on cost of the project and the final timeline were not available, but Dillinger believes the project would be completed within three years.

In other business:

— By unanimous vote, Anthony Erickson was elected as mayor for the coming year and Dennis Baldinelli as mayor pro tem.

— The city and unions agreed to pay higher deductibles for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Simply Blue plan to save on premium costs. Deductibles would be $2,700 for single or $5,400 for two person or family, with 80 percent covered by the city.