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Setting a downtown housing goal


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#41 SupercityGR

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:43 AM

Well from I have been reading there may be a demand yet for market rate. Iv seen that Gallery is floating around 94% full and similar numbers for Icon and Bond. The new 616 lofts on Ionia I believe only has 2 units left. I think we need a nice push of new mixed used buildings. 38 is a perfect fit. Its great looking, adds life to commerce, brought companys to a new office, and brought people downtown to live.

 

                    As far as tax credits go. If LIHTC is working, continue it.



 

#42 The Voice of Reason

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:55 AM

There was some talk at an event I attended last night about setting a downtown housing goal: X number of new residential units by Y period of time, and formulating initiatives and developer incentives to make it happen. Whether you need buyer incentives or not is debatable. Ren Zones helped fill a lot of condos, but the values on those condos have taken a huge hit since the tax credits expired.

 

What would it take to get to 10,000? How many years? 2020? With standard organic absorption of units.

 

The thought process is that it will take 10,000 people to get a major retailer/major grocer downtown, amongst the other benefits of having that many residents in the city.

 

Im fron Hartford area, and our city/state have recently set such a goal.  We as cities come frrom two different places of course, but it is interesting to see that municipalities have been setting population goals or are talking about it.

 

For Hartford, we have always had the jobs.  In fact most of the cities woes were caused by companied destroying blocks of historic buildings to build larger offices and therefore removing the residents from the city center making the downtown a ghost town at night.  this of course led to percieved safety issues due to a lack of the eyes on the street and ultimately to actual crime issues and suburban flight.  (end tangent)

Our downtown has a population of about 2000 right now mostly living in new buildings/rennovations from the last 8-9 years.  We also have about 2100 hotel rooms in our downtown that average 60% occupancy adding to our nite time population. 

The city and state have created an agency that is charged with adding 3000 housing units to the area (not strictly downtown) within the next several years.  This agency has 60M funding right now to achieve that goal.  

 

It seems to be working too because they are focusing on "difficult projects"  meaning rennovations that have costly obsticles like asbestose or strange floorplates.

We also just got federal monies for income restricted housing.   The result is that the 5 major projects that are currently proposed are now VERY likely to be completed.  One of them is a 26 story office building filled with asbestos that recieved 17 million of that funding already.  The 286 housing units that this will generate goes a long way towards filling the astounding demand for downtown apartments, but also solves the issue of what to do with 26 floors of asbestos.

 

The 5 major projects that are about to start total 1007 housing units, 50% increase. (one of these 5 is not using any of the 60M)

I can not recall the deadline year they chose, and I am sure some projects will falter, but the first 4 that are likely to be funded by this instrument and the one that is not all seem very much like they will be inder construction by the end of 2014 (I think one building might take till early 2014 to start)

 

The apparent goal is to have a grocery store and a major retailer as well.   I think this can be a bit of a pipe dream.  If you look at cities like Minneapolis you can see that it might be a long road before a grocery store is viable, and major retail is a huge challenge.  Only now is Minneapolis looking to get over those issues in large part to the 10K+ downtown residents, Mass transit, and a metro population over 5 Million..... not to mention being the HQ city of that large retailer Target.

 

It will be interesting to see how these programs pan out.  I just hope that the new residents make the business community more interested in maintaining and even adding to the 110,000 daytime workers.



#43 SupercityGR

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:31 AM

The DDA is being very aggressive right now. They just hired a company to design a vision for the future of heartside. Im very excited to see what happens this year.



#44 GRDadof3

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:40 AM

Im fron Hartford area, and our city/state have recently set such a goal.  We as cities come frrom two different places of course, but it is interesting to see that municipalities have been setting population goals or are talking about it.

 

For Hartford, we have always had the jobs.  In fact most of the cities woes were caused by companied destroying blocks of historic buildings to build larger offices and therefore removing the residents from the city center making the downtown a ghost town at night.  this of course led to percieved safety issues due to a lack of the eyes on the street and ultimately to actual crime issues and suburban flight.  (end tangent)

Our downtown has a population of about 2000 right now mostly living in new buildings/rennovations from the last 8-9 years.  We also have about 2100 hotel rooms in our downtown that average 60% occupancy adding to our nite time population. 

The city and state have created an agency that is charged with adding 3000 housing units to the area (not strictly downtown) within the next several years.  This agency has 60M funding right now to achieve that goal.  

 

It seems to be working too because they are focusing on "difficult projects"  meaning rennovations that have costly obsticles like asbestose or strange floorplates.

We also just got federal monies for income restricted housing.   The result is that the 5 major projects that are currently proposed are now VERY likely to be completed.  One of them is a 26 story office building filled with asbestos that recieved 17 million of that funding already.  The 286 housing units that this will generate goes a long way towards filling the astounding demand for downtown apartments, but also solves the issue of what to do with 26 floors of asbestos.

 

The 5 major projects that are about to start total 1007 housing units, 50% increase. (one of these 5 is not using any of the 60M)

I can not recall the deadline year they chose, and I am sure some projects will falter, but the first 4 that are likely to be funded by this instrument and the one that is not all seem very much like they will be inder construction by the end of 2014 (I think one building might take till early 2014 to start)

 

The apparent goal is to have a grocery store and a major retailer as well.   I think this can be a bit of a pipe dream.  If you look at cities like Minneapolis you can see that it might be a long road before a grocery store is viable, and major retail is a huge challenge.  Only now is Minneapolis looking to get over those issues in large part to the 10K+ downtown residents, Mass transit, and a metro population over 5 Million..... not to mention being the HQ city of that large retailer Target.

 

It will be interesting to see how these programs pan out.  I just hope that the new residents make the business community more interested in maintaining and even adding to the 110,000 daytime workers.

 

Thanks for stopping by VoiceofReason. It's an interesting program Hartford has going on. Do you know where the $60 Million is coming from? That's a lot of dough.



#45 Gorath

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:03 PM

I'm also curious as to what the 14 additional housing projects by Wolvering Building Group are planned for 2013. I know they're working on two of Brookstone's. Do you know any more details?

 

One is a 4 story multi-family/business building at 413 Hall SE.

 

11 more Wolverine buildings to go.....



#46 The Voice of Reason

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 11:47 AM

Thanks for stopping by VoiceofReason. It's an interesting program Hartford has going on. Do you know where the $60 Million is coming from? That's a lot of dough.

 

Yes, it was bonded by the state. 

 

We are a tiny little state with limited funding and high taxes, so some are against this program, but those are mostly people who forget that their perfect suburbs exist as a result of the once great city of Hartford.

 

The entity is called Capital region development Authority

http://crdact.net/

 

The predecessor was created a while back by a govenor who since served jail time :P  but that measure kick started Hartfords redevelopment.  It only was supported because it focused on amenities with only a small portion going towards housing.  The key projects were based around building a football stadium for UCONN rennovating the arena (and adding a shiny highrise apartment to it) building a science museum and building a convention center.

 

while there was plenty of good in that first wave there was plenty of waste and likely some graft.

 

this new version is much more intelligent, and apparently graft free.  Its mostly about housing and the non housing elements are more about creating efficiencies and such.



#47 SupercityGR

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:35 PM

Sounds like a great project. Do you know what kind of housing its going to focus on?

Hartford21 is a great looking building and the new hotel looked nice as well


Edited by SupercityGR, 14 January 2013 - 12:50 PM.


#48 The Voice of Reason

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:29 PM

I sure do....

 

I have a small obsession with Hartford much like you guys do with GR, so please excuse my excitement :)

 

I will hilight the 5 projects that are the largest, and therefore have the most available info.  In addition to these projects, there are several small (2-10 units) projects that will likely be assisted as well.

 

Front Street Phase II

-Fully funded including some 40% ($14M) gap financing from the state (although technically from the origonal CCEDA program ( “Six Pillars”) that has now been replaced and I posted about)

$35M New Construction of a 5 story apartment builsing with 115 market rate apartments and 25,000SF of retail.

http://courantblogs....y-early-summer/

We dont have a rendering but suspect something will be out soon and likely will not be very impressive,  The developer is primarily a commercial landlord who owns strip malls.  Phase 1 is essentially a strip mall.  these apartments were supposed to be ontop of that retail but the recession scared them off.

 

Mostly studio and 1 Bedroom with a handful of 2 bedrooms

 

On The Plaza

-Rennovation of an old 12 story long vacant hotel into 199 Apartments and 11K sf retail on an elevated plaza

99 of which will be restricted income due to a $5M grant from from the state by way of the feds.  HUD money I guess.    This apartment was planned as entry level from the begining so this seems like free money.  these are going to mostly be studios and 1 BR and serve the massive waiting lists we are seeing at existing buildings for this kind of housing.  We have a large number of young professionals who are desperate for downtown housing.  This funding requires renters to earn less than 80% median income and such.  maybe some will be 60%   Median income is 66K or so here, so we are generally talking about fresh grads earning 35-45K and hospitality workers.   

-NOTE: UCONN just announced moving its hartford campus (2000 students) downtown, literally next door to this building.  I assume there are now talks about making this student housing now too.  The building got historical tax credits too.  I am shocked it has not announced a start date as it could easily beat the above building to market and reap the rewards of the backlog. 

HC-WFSB-Hartford_opt.jpg

Its the building on the right.

The building in the foreground is now a hole and is proposed to become another apartment (see Residences)

 

777 Main Street:

This is the 26 story former bank of America Building that is vacant and full of asbestos.

The developer has proposed 287 apartments with 20% income based.  and 35,000 SF retail.   They have received 17M of CRDA funding (the first project to do so and the agencies #1 priority)  They got $5M for the low income segment.  this building is also heavy on the smaller apartments but will have plenty of larger nicer units as well.  especially on the top floors.  Killer views up thereof the river and really the whole river valley (except to the South)   Total cost is something like $80M

 

 

777-Main.JPG

Its the building dead center.    This is in the middle of downtown essentially and therefore a high priority project.

 

 

101 Pearl and 111 Pearl Project:

This is 2 buildings that were recently sold to a team of local developers with rediculous connections and equal wealth and expertise.

There are 2 older empty office buildings that will be redeveloped into apartments and retail with the possibility of some commercial or professional space.  These 2 buildings are on the opposite corner of the block that 777 Main street is on and again is absolutely in the center of downtown.  The CRDA is heavily behind this project as well because it is a challenging property and their mission is to help fund the properties that would be otherwise difficult to complete without subsidy.  (essentially, the state is eliminating the risk)

 

Combined, they will become 191 apartments

 24,500 SF retail

one is 12 story 100Ksf

other is 7 story 75K sf

 

http://www.hartfordb...mplate=printart

 

 

 

 

 

The Residences at River View:

The owner of an engineering firm in the area bought the old TV studio pictured above next to the hotel and was going to build a 12 story leed platinum office building for his firm.  Since it was 2008, that clearly didnt work out so he has retooled his design to be mixed use.

14/15 stories 195 residences with 20K+ office space for his firm and ~10Ksf of retail.  This project has apparently gotten the green light for funding from the CRDA, but no numbers have been released yet.  I am sure it will come out when the next meeting minutes are released.  rendering available in the link below.

 

This building and on the plaza are next door to each other.  This is the higher end of the two buildings, and will have some great views available.  Again there will be a large number of studios and 1 Beds.   To the east of on the plaza, the state is buying a vacant 700K sf office building and moving 2000 workers in there from all over the state.  To the North of on the plaza, UCONN is moving 2000 students from its Hartford campus.  This part of downtown will look completelydifferent in the next 2-3 years!

http://www.thereside...triverview.com/



#49 joeDowntown

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

Thanks for the info. It's interesting to see what other cities are doing to attract development / residents. Nice job Hartford!

 

Joe



#50 The Voice of Reason

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 12:28 PM

Yes, this is probably the first time in a long long time that Hartford has had all of its ducks in a row.

 

The govenor is supportive of mass transit and urban development and knows that for the state to succeed, Hartford has to be healthy.

 

The mayor is by all accounts intelligent, business friendly and not corrupt.  Taxes are still insanely high, so the city is not actually business friendly, but the city and state are working together with a program to lure companies to the state.

 

The business community is actually working with the city and state to fix some of the issues that plagued Hartford too.  Parking garages have replaced surface lots, commuting vouchers are offered for mass transit users, roads are being narrowed and made pedestrian friendly.  business are putting up signage and outdoor seating etc...  One company, Travelers, is redeveloping its plaza to be more accessable (removing walls) and making it a public space possibly including an ice rink and a cafe.  Another is turning its entire plaza into greenspace, and a third company gave the city 2 million to acquire and demolish a blighted building near a major highway that gave a bad image to the city.  The utility is putting in charging stations for elextric vehicles as well.  It really is kind of impressive.

 

The arts commuity has also banded together to better link the cultural institutions and increase patronage through wayfaring and such.  

 

and lastly, our largest theater, The Bushnel (Host of the Opera, Symphony, Ballet and traveling broadway shows) is looking to build a "highrise condominium" on a lot next to their facility that happens to overlook our central park.  This is still a little out there but who knows, anythings possible.

 

The buggest gamechangers we have are all DOT related though.

There is a plan to bury I-84 and the train tracks as it goes through downtown and realign them making traffic frlow better while allowing the reconnecting of the CBD with the Asylum Hill neighborhood and opening 26 acres to development and expanding the downtown Park (while removing the train tracks from one edge of it)

 

We are also building a commuter rail set to open in 2016.  and possible high speed service some time after that to NYC and maybe Montreal (more far fetched). 

 

We are also about to start a project called iQuilt but thats too complicated to explain... they are redoing the train station and the bus routes and a couple roads and bike lanes.

Oh yeah and building a bus rapid transit system on a special road.  its really is alot

 

 

I have a soft spot for Grand Rapids too.

As a city you guys have come a long way and its extremely livable. 

Besides you have some of the best breweries in America, so for that I am jealous!



#51 SupercityGR

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

Seems like there doing all the right things. When ever you can make a city walkable and more friendly is a good thing. What are the vacancy rates there for your office buildings?



#52 The Voice of Reason

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 06:54 PM

Seems like there doing all the right things. When ever you can make a city walkable and more friendly is a good thing. What are the vacancy rates there for your office buildings?

 I am taking over your thread man ... :)

 

But that is the bad news.  Our vacancy is insane.  there are several key factors that lead to this not based on econemy or demand.

 

Office vacancy is not measured in owner occupied space by all the realestate firms that publish those numbers.

We are lucky to have some HUGE owner occupiers in Hartford.

 

Aetna Insurance

The Hartford Insurance

Travelers Insurance

Phoenix insurance.

The first 3 EACH employ over 7000-12,000 employees each in or near downtown.  The fourth employs 600-1000

 

These 4 companies occupy literally millions of SF of space and they each own all of it or at least most of it.

 

The state offices also dont count/  The state employs another 10K+ in Hartford and they own their buildings, so they dont count either.  The also rent, but not class A space.

 

anyways.... its 26ish precent

 

Here is a recent article however about how it will be dropping into the 17% range this coming year.

http://courantblogs....y-dramatically/

 

Truth is, it should get better than that since in addition to the 575K and 287K SF expected to be absorbed by the state as mentioned in the article...

UConn is going to lease or buy and occupy) a vacant office building that is 135K SF (200 constitution plaza)

and 3 of the housing developments I mentioned are office conversions gobbling up... 300K, 100K, 75K.

 

who knows, its definately an issue, but I would say that our vacancy rate is fairly high because we have signifivant ammounts of office space too.  the suburbs are much healthier.  Remember that Hartford invented the suburban office park when Connecticut General (now CIGNA) moved to the suburb Bloomfield. 

 

Vacancy or not, Hartford is lucky to be the HQ city of some seriously heavy hitters and the US HQ of a few others even



#53 GRDadof3

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:18 AM

 I am taking over your thread man ... :)

 

But that is the bad news.  Our vacancy is insane.  there are several key factors that lead to this not based on econemy or demand.

 

Office vacancy is not measured in owner occupied space by all the realestate firms that publish those numbers.

We are lucky to have some HUGE owner occupiers in Hartford.

 

Aetna Insurance

The Hartford Insurance

Travelers Insurance

Phoenix insurance.

The first 3 EACH employ over 7000-12,000 employees each in or near downtown.  The fourth employs 600-1000

 

These 4 companies occupy literally millions of SF of space and they each own all of it or at least most of it.

 

The state offices also dont count/  The state employs another 10K+ in Hartford and they own their buildings, so they dont count either.  The also rent, but not class A space.

 

anyways.... its 26ish precent

 

Here is a recent article however about how it will be dropping into the 17% range this coming year.

http://courantblogs....y-dramatically/

 

Truth is, it should get better than that since in addition to the 575K and 287K SF expected to be absorbed by the state as mentioned in the article...

UConn is going to lease or buy and occupy) a vacant office building that is 135K SF (200 constitution plaza)

and 3 of the housing developments I mentioned are office conversions gobbling up... 300K, 100K, 75K.

 

who knows, its definately an issue, but I would say that our vacancy rate is fairly high because we have signifivant ammounts of office space too.  the suburbs are much healthier.  Remember that Hartford invented the suburban office park when Connecticut General (now CIGNA) moved to the suburb Bloomfield. 

 

Vacancy or not, Hartford is lucky to be the HQ city of some seriously heavy hitters and the US HQ of a few others even

 

 

Downtown Grand Rapids' general class A office space is hovering around 21%. Most of the vacancy is in office buildings that were built in the 70's and 80's. Converted loft spaces and renovated historic buildings are pretty hot for offices though. Also, a couple of the big office buildings downtown are getting some much needed makeovers.



#54 The Voice of Reason

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 11:23 AM

Yeah, our Class A is all from the 70s, 80s and early 90's  downtown.   There has not been a new office building built downtown since the realestate crash of 1991ish and the burbs have excelent shiny brand new buildings.  ING moved it North American HQ to a new building, The Hartford Life insurance company moved to a new building next door to that and Met Life moved from the premier downtown building, City PLace to a suburban building on the CIGNA campus.  that was all in the 2007-10 timeframe.  Aetna took over the ING space, but the Hartford Life space is vacant (being bought by the state)  and so is the met life space (also to be bought by the state)

 

Back in the 1991 era we were a booming office market but the realestate bust killed 4-5 projects EACH >600' that were each monsters but had already demolished the existing buildings.   those demolished buildings are the lofts and historic buildings you have (ours are mostly gone)  Instead we have seas of surface parking lots marking the location of each of those past office proposals (only one spot had been redeveloped since. 

 

some cool pics from the past.

http://www.urbanplan...never-happened/



#55 GR_Urbanist

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 01:02 PM

Yeah, our Class A is all from the 70s, 80s and early 90's  downtown.   There has not been a new office building built downtown since the realestate crash of 1991ish and the burbs have excelent shiny brand new buildings.  ING moved it North American HQ to a new building, The Hartford Life insurance company moved to a new building next door to that and Met Life moved from the premier downtown building, City PLace to a suburban building on the CIGNA campus.  that was all in the 2007-10 timeframe.  Aetna took over the ING space, but the Hartford Life space is vacant (being bought by the state)  and so is the met life space (also to be bought by the state)

 

Back in the 1991 era we were a booming office market but the realestate bust killed 4-5 projects EACH >600' that were each monsters but had already demolished the existing buildings.   those demolished buildings are the lofts and historic buildings you have (ours are mostly gone)  Instead we have seas of surface parking lots marking the location of each of those past office proposals (only one spot had been redeveloped since. 

 

some cool pics from the past.

http://www.urbanplan...never-happened/

 

And I thought GR was parking lot mad!   :shok:



#56 joeDowntown

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:28 PM

Reading the article about 99 Monroe got me thinking, what would it take to get interest from a company located outside Grand Rapids to build residential downtown? It seems that we have the right ingredients (revitalized downtown, market-rate housing in high demand, etc.). I wonder if Grand Rapids is just considered another "flyover city" or if we could attract interest from the outside. 

 

Thoughts?

 

Joe



#57 RegalTDP

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:19 PM

Aren't the people behind the new riverfront project (Woda Group) new to the area?



#58 GRDadof3

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:50 PM

Aren't the people behind the new riverfront project (Woda Group) new to the area?

 

Yes. Apparently they're developing a downtown master plan, that will address housing goals and housing mix (market rate, low income).



#59 joeDowntown

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:12 PM

Great news. If we could get 3-4 national players in play with our local players (616, Locus, CWD, etc.) things could really pop. I'd love to see a national player that understands how to make a 10-20 story mixed use building work come into town and get the ball rolling. I think the market is ripe, I just wonder if we're invisible to these groups.

 

Joe

 

Yes. Apparently they're developing a downtown master plan, that will address housing goals and housing mix (market rate, low income).






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