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Everything posted by whitemice

  1. RPOA's podcast episode 361 features Michele Williams (aka: Ms. Tiny) of Dirt To Keys (ADU Specialists) talking about small-scale development and housing lower-case-a affordability. It is a bit thin on substance, yet nice to hear a leader speaking in a local [Grand Rapids, MI] context. Also provides, via the host's comments, the narrative which "developers" receive from the city vs. rules which apply to every day citizens (and small time developers). https://rpoaonline.org/podcasts/725ca5f5-98d5-420a-9972-dd9f9cb21b54/ She mentions that her website dirttokeys.com will be available "soon". At this point the website is already up. The ADU cost estimator feels pretty spot on for a ballpark number.
  2. Agree, 110%. And they pitched something of this scale without talking to the Planning Department? It's a long shot cash grab.
  3. It was talked about during the Calder Re-imagining. "Lease the space for development" was an option on the Menti. I voted for that option! Myself, and as I recall ~three other people. The status-quo of the Plaza area won in a landslide. https://www.therapidian.org/placematters-downtown-wants-your-ideas-reimagining-calder-plaza (2016-06-21) A lot of people at the meeting had a strong attachment to The Calder and surrounding area. As I recall the meeting was as typically representative - demographically - as all the city's outreach meetings are... The plan for the Calder Plaza is already laid in, under the umbrella of GR Forward. https://downtowngr.org/our-work/projects/reimagining-calder-plaza
  4. Ugh. Heart breaking. Imagine having our transit center near an actual center of something rather than backed up into the crotch of a highway.
  5. The McConnell project specifically talks about making a grocery store economically feasible by adding new mid-market residents [aka: customers] which is a much more honest statement. https://urbangr.org/TheMcConnellTheFirstTODDevelopmentInGRMaybe
  6. Agree. Yet it is apparent [even obvious!], and confirmed in some conversations, that this is not going to happen under the current regime. Municipal elections in 2024! I mean, we've have Vision Zero adopted and die on the vine - what happened to the attached policy changes? nothing - then Housing NOW, and the unwillingness to even adopt a policy change to end new surface parking lots downtown [proposed & canned]. Yep. There is plenty of places to build crap. OTOH, I do see self-storage as 50/50 a revenue business and a real-estate holding strategy. Those types of structures are cheap [relatively speaking].
  7. Agree. The Spectrum CTI is a stunningly bad project for Monroe North; its progression eliminated what little faith I had left in our Mayor & her Planning Dept. It is a parking bomb detonated in a center of a revitalizing urban area. In the end, I agree. This will pass, and it should. If Spectrum's ~900 parking spaces was a legit land use, then this is a legit land use. It reminds me of the car wash up by Fuller & Leonard; perhaps it doesn't fit some Master Plan [which The City is clearly not willing to fight for]. But it is impossible to stand in that spot, look around, and not say: "Yeah, that fits the existing neighborhood character of this location." Yep, the backside of Monroe North still feels like it did 20 years ago, with the small exception of Eastern Kille Distillery which is on its way out. "It ain't a thing until the first backhoe arrives" -- unknown It has done much better than I expected. The City so far has really followed through with the river bank parks, etc... and The City rarely follows through with things. However, their unwillingness to institute parking maximums and other next steps I feel has drawn a ceilings on the potential of these neighborhoods. Then salt with world circumstances.... Self storage is lucrative, so the building will likely be very well maintained, which is not the case today.
  8. This is accurate; they only a couple of months ago renewed the lease / operating agreement. I don't understand what the question is. When the lease ends, if the owner chooses not to renew it, the owner does whatever they want with it. There's ample parking available; but I thought they needed to rezone the property to CC, which means it will next go the City Commission if the Planning Commission is favorable. If rezoned to CC that significantly changes the parking requirements.
  9. No, it is the north side of Garden St. It has already been through the Planning Comission, all the docs & such @ http://grandrapidscitymi.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=6570&MediaPosition=&ID=19157&CssClass= I believe the "tiny home" [actually merely small home by traditional standards] argument is that mobile homes have no value and these as fixed structures will have value (I'm not saying one way or the other, but that's the intersection of economics, culture, & codes). For me it is simply: why the hell can't someone build these if they want to? There is no legitimate reason for the city to require any special anything. The city should get the [email protected]&*^ out of the way, they should stop paying "expert" staff to write justifications for this arbitrary nonsense.
  10. Not meaning to be pedantic, but it really depends what you are building. And what kinds of financing is available. There are rates, and there are rates; traditional bank type of lenders and investor lenders. One conversation I had recently - with a serious person - was about "New York" money looking for a greater diversity of markets to invest in. For small time operators I think it has already gotten harder; which is very sad, a decade of very low rates was really squandered. Also remember that these are not historically unprecedented rates, in the 4% - 8% range. These rates are normal. It was the last ~10 years that was anomalous. Stuff got built in the 90s and 00s. I was just some dumb kid with a new job back when I purchased my home at 6.75%.
  11. Is the studio park residential tower Grand Rapid's first air-rights build? If not it is the first one in a long time. I can't recall any structures added atop existing structures.
  12. Nope. As someone who processes the intake/termination paperwork for a not-tiny company, yeah, the labor market is still wild. And in an attempt to stop the bleeding a first every multi-% across the board raise for all employees. Demand in the industrial sector is perking right along. Also housing prices haven't given an inch. I've ridden out several recessions . . . this is something different.
  13. Yes. Yes Four stories is the upper limit everywhere but CC, and 2.5 (35ft) is the limit almost everywhere else. And four stories is the limit only as of 2021 - previously it was three, and the fourth+ floor was a bonus. They made that change the same time they allowed ground floor residential in The current ordinance very stingy about height. Even the Planning Dept will confess that those are rarely, if ever, user. The bonus system is a political performance.
  14. I believe their second floor is effectively closed. Or it was very recently (obvs, this can change on a moments notice).
  15. With the continuous decline of household size - it is down to something approaching 1.1 - more housing is required to host the same population. So much of our housing is, at least contextually, obsolete [oversized]; a significant component of the housing shorting is housing stock mismatch [too many large (& thus expensive) units]. Also a drop of 243 in The City count is within the range of statistical noise. I view that as no-change. no-change makes sense given the housing shortage (again, partly due to declining household size). By leaving us with effectively the same land-use policies as we had in 2010 the City Commission has hung out a "We Are Full" sign. There is visible development in a few neighborhoods, yet by overall count there isn't very much development.
  16. It was always intended to debut as a bus service. The idea isn't dead, but under the current regimes (useless state legislature, governor with no interest what-so-ever in urbanism or transportation) I don't see anything happening soon. There is currently a leadership vacuum.
  17. Yes Not how this works. You do realize airlines are not profitable? Also General Motors has been bailed out by the US government at least three times in my life. Also, well: roads. The principle distinction is what things we allow to pretend to be for-profit "private" businesses and which things we don't. Transportation systems are never profitable, they are necessary.
  18. They weren't the impediment. MDOT had refurbished - and branded - cars for that service. They have subsequently been sold; some Republicans had a apoplectic fit about MDOT paying to store unused rail cars. The RTA is in complete disarray, and hasn't found its footing since narrowly failing at the ballot box in 2018. Those commuter rail projects are now as dead as a project can be. There are new railcars on the way for inter-city Amtrak service. Those were purchased by 2008 Obama funding - and they've been in testing for months now as Amtrak works through a myriad of issues. Buy American clauses, given America has no real passenger rail industry, means all these products are custom, expensive, buggy, and have l-o-n-g acquisition times.
  19. No, that's nonsense. I did it - https://urbangr.org/BuildingADU535Shirley - and only a few years later it is already cash flow neutral. Of course people build a few when the rules remain onerous and there is extremely little local knowledge on how to finance such an build. My person I worked with at the bank didn't even understand what I was doing, had no way to code for it. The underwriters had to go back and forth about how to classify it . . . in the end they decided the property was multi-family which provided a nearly $40K bump. So for the bank my property is multi-family, for the city it is still single-family (but with a weird deed restriction) and for the insurance company it is two single family units. So weird. But all of that could be cleared up, if we had any competent leadership. The limitations on ADUs - even if they are technically permissable - on size, location, roof pitch, height.... yes, very few get built. There's no business opportunity there for contracts to get into the space - as has begun to flourish in places with non-asinine zoning. A new housing unit near the center for an urban area for $150-200K? That's maths out pretty easy. Payment ~$1,100-$1,300 * 1.2 = rent $1,320 - $1,560, for a detached unit with off-street parking and in-unit laundry? That will rent. Especially with surging home values and the equity available to home owners. This is the limitation. And that is the barrier for every possible solution. It is unavoidable. We need state-level reform, the rollback the overreach of "local control" governments. Yes, we should do that. I doubt that avoids the core problem: NIMBYism vs. lack of political will. Speaking of affordability - there's also if sites are available. There are numerous long derelict sites around my 'hood, these could be developed pretty significantly, but they just sit there. These sites are very cheap to just sit on. I wish there was a way to penalty tax vacant land.
  20. Agree; that's effectively impossible. Likely a significant but not overwhelming effect. It is like California - which has very similar tax regulations - it will predispose people who want to grow old in place (in their own communities) to do so exactly where there are, in the same unit, however inappropriate it is to their life-phase. Those who want to move to age elsewhere, at least in Michigan, have a reasonable probability of leaving the state entirely. But for the second group you run into the next barrier of if they can afford to migrate as the housing shortage is everywhere and Michigan property values are still lagging those of the most desirable retirement migration destinations. Nibbling at multiple edges seems like a good strategy to me; there aren't really any power tools in the toolbox. Especially targeting stay-in-place retirees - of which we have a lot - is something we should do. Allow duplexing, lot splits, and ADUs (internal, attached, and detached). Retirees could retain ownership, retain the majority of the benefits of Prop A, gain equity and income, and produce housing units. Adaptive in-place aging. This idea might have some traction in some of the townships based on conversations I've heard here and there; the best place would be in The City, but the Grand Rapids City Commission has made it very clear they are going to do nothing. (3) housing can change form
  21. THIS! "Affordable" housing is important, and we just need for g.d. housing. I know that's always been the Realtor's Narrative. I'm skeptical how much it was ever true for a majority of households - yet that aside - given how clogged the Housing Market is, and has been for a decade, plus the later formation of households by Millennials due to all kinds of things both voluntary and not; it is seems very unlikely this is the narrative of the future Housing Market. I doubt anyone who cares to look at the data doubts that anymore. Sadly, a lot of people are more about the feels than the data. And feels create more passion than data; color me skeptical for any Housing Policy changes in the near future. The lack of leadership is deafening. Again, completely agree. Sadly "new urbanist" is often just crappy urbanism. At the end of the day happy for more housing. Wish we could just do "real urbanism". Yep. This is both cost - and a shift in attitudes. I've talked to so many people my age and your who are "I don't want to own a yard", and watched some of those people be yelled at at Housing NOW meetings while City Staff sat there like useless lumps.
  22. It was, they've filed for an extension on their SLUdue to COVID/Supply-Chain. (600-614 Fairview NE) http://grandrapidscitymi.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=6557&MediaPosition=&ID=17916&CssClass=
  23. It was supported by a majority of residents who showed up. The city caved to a vocal minority. The currently seated City Commission exists to do as little as possible as slowly as possible. Hopefully term limits liberate us at some point. They aren't even "anti-everything", they are no position on anything. They won't be there forever. Yes. They could become functional cities in their own right. Given the stalling of policy in Grand Rapids I suspect these communities to be where to action is; they are all moving to grow their own centers and have better policies, even out in Hudsonville they get it. The pretty aggressive rezoning of other communities along the Laker Line is a good sign.
  24. I was just looking at building permits yesterday. Graphed the units-by-type permit counts per year for GR (from SOCDS)
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