By Jessica Mathews /

The City of Howell has issued a request for proposals for a vacant property on west Grand River that was originally being eyed for a new U.S. Post Office.

The City owns several properties downtown, one of the largest vacant properties is the land adjacent to the existing fire station that totals roughly 6-acres. It is directly adjacent to existing residential neighborhoods so the City is looking to partner with a developer on a project that can work collaboratively with the surrounding neighborhood.

The United States Postal Service had been looking to relocate the main Howell Post Office to a portion of the property. However, nearby residents crowded multiple Council meetings to voice concerns about traffic, parking, grading, lighting, landscaping, noise and truck traffic - in addition to the main concerns voiced about flooding as the area has known drainage problems. After the Post Office abandoned the project, Council agreed it would be beneficial to market the property.

An update was provided at a recent virtual City Council meeting, with staff noting a RFP or request for proposals was put together at Council’s direction. It was stated that there has been s fair amount of interest from the development community since the signage went up.

Community Development Director Tim Schmitt said most conversations they’ve had with the development community is more surrounding a residential use of the property versus an employment use. He advised Council that discussion is going to need to occur once they get a developer interested in a project and have suggested strongly that any developer will need to be prepared to do additional public outreach to the neighborhood.

Schmidt said he thought their timeline was reasonable, given the upcoming holidays. Schmitt said the plan is to get proposals back January, have the initial reviews done in February and then likely have presentations in front of Council in March. Council would then make a decision on who to enter into a Letter of Intent or LIO. That developer would then be given the opportunity to have a certain period of due-diligence prior to entering into any formal purchase agreement with the City.

The full RFP is on the City of Howell's website. That link is provided.