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KCLBADave last won the day on June 15 2012

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  1. Wealthy Street Needed Renovations

    Mike and Lenn have retired. Good for them! They had a long run on the corner. They told me that they sold to a women's clothing company that was moving off Division. I assume it is the one being discussed earlier in this thread. The new business owner will be living upstairs as Mike and Lenn did while running her business on the main floor. She plans to preserve the gardens.
  2. ArtPrize - Grand Rapids

    Art Prize "Officially" starts in two days. I was just downtown walking around and noted that there are VERY few pieces set up in public spaces. What gives? Is there a more intentional attempt by AP to spread out the art to various venues outside the Central Business District?
  3. MSU Biomedical Research Campus

    Look what they just installed in the upper corner of the building!
  4. Amazon looking for a city to put HQ2

    The bigger question is could our region fulfill 50,000 new jobs?
  5. Keeler Building - 56 North Division

    I have been reading that there is a push to reinstate the Historic Tax Credit program to spur development. Perhaps this is a preemptive move.
  6. The "Affordable Housing" Discussion in GR

    Habitat and ICCF along with the other non-profit housing corps are having a hard time getting houses, just like everyone else, but I would point out that Habitat and ICCF are currently sitting on a large number of build-able lots and tracks of land. The KCLBA has a ton of sites/lots available to build on our web site www.kclba.org click on the "Buy from Us" link. Problem is builders are having a hard time making the numbers work on these sites.
  7. The "Affordable Housing" Discussion in GR

    For obvious reasons I always have to be careful when I comment on this forum, especially on this topic. But Jeff has really hit the nail on the head. When discussing "affordable housing" I think it is extremely important that the discussion NOT focus on the actual price for rent or cost of a monthly mortgage, but rather on how much a person can afford based on what they earn. Industry standard is that a person should not pay more than 30% of their monthly income on their housing costs, 45% for total monthly debt to income. Average rent in GR for a 2 bedroom is $900 a month. So, to "afford" this much rent a household must be earning at least $39,000 annually, this equates to about $19 per hour. Too many people say, "well then rent should be lower!" That is an easy assumption to make. Problem is that whether it is a 2 bedroom home or duplex, or a 2 bedroom unit in a larger complex, rental property owners will tell you that it is hard to keep up a home unless you are taking in that amount of monthly rent. Think about it: Property Taxes: $1,300 annually (at least) or $108 a month, insurance $75 a month, water $40 a month, maintenance $50 a month, replacement reserves (putting away money for large repairs or replacements) $75 a month, vacancy (5% of rent) or $45 a month, and then debt service (when one considers the vast amount of rental property in our city, very few are owned free and clear) let's plug in $300 a month. This adds up to $693 in monthly costs. So the owner is netting $207 per month in a best case scenario. If the landlord is charging less, there is a great risk of the property falling into blight. Let's get back to the $39,000 in annual household income a family must earn in order to "afford" a two bedroom rental unit. There are 73,026 households in GR. The Median Household income for Grand Rapids is $40,355, meaning half of the households in the City earn below the $39,000 threshold I mentioned earlier. I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point. Jeff is right, we have a wage issue here in Grand Rapids.
  8. New projects in East Hills

    If this does not get approved...just saying
  9. New projects in East Hills

    We submitted for approval of the site plan but not for the design. If HPC approves the site we will then submit final drawings for approval. Final drawings will have flat fronts, meaning no bump out, the single family home will have a steeper roof pitch and no shakes in the peak, all of the windows will be a bit taller and more narrow, and none of the windows will be paired. Each window will be individual with siding in between. The 2 unit townhouse is almost the exact dimensions of similar buildings two streets over.
  10. New projects in East Hills

    Correct, the KCLBA intends to do several of these developments, all in neighborhoods that are not in Historic Districts. So the work we put in is being split across 13 units. However, with this project being rejected we cannot recoup the $6,500 per unit cost for these three. As far as the flat roof goes, it is done for a practical reason. Because these are single family owned and not condo projects there is a parapet in the roof allowing each unit to have its own roof. This helps immensely with insurance and financing. We are contemplating revising the project into one narrow stand alone home and then a 2 unit townhouse and resubmitting.
  11. New projects in East Hills

    x99, I cannot say I totally disagree with you on this. However, when it comes to design elements on this project the HPC made a huge issue about window sills, yet half of the buildings in this neighborhood had them and half did not, they made an issue about the width of the trim, yet half of the buildings in the neighborhood had wide trim and half had narrow trim. Each time they would bring up these design elements as issues, we had the expense of redrawing. In regard to the size of the building itself, a strong case can be made that the vast majority of the homes in this neighborhood take up almost the entire parcel, save the room for the occasional parcel that has off street parking. To me, there is still too much that is arbitrary in this whole process. One more thing, we did find the widest building in the neighborhood, it is 349 & 353 Visser. These are side by side co-joined two units with flat roofs. They are each 17 feet wide and the buildings are built almost next to each other's property lines. We contended that our project was not too dissimilar to these two buildings.
  12. New projects in East Hills

    The flat roof works better for our attached SFH projects because each unit literally owns its own roof individually.
  13. New projects in East Hills

    There is a little more to this saga than the rendering above. Here is a breakdown of the process: KCLBA staff and our architect had a preliminary meeting with City Planning and HPC stadd to review our conceptual drawings and site plan and received the following feedback: o For planning we only need to submit to the Planning Commission there was no need for a zoning variance. o A neighborhood meeting would be very important o It would be good to offer the neighbors choices. o Was told it was ver important to get approval from the neighbor to the South as he was very active with HPC o We took this feedback and authorized our architect to produce more complete drawings. • Invited the entire block of Donald to Sparrow’s coffee for a meeting. Two neighbors showed up, one of them being the neighbor to the South. KCLBA staff reviewed the two building designs and the site plan for the 3-unit attached single family home project. Both neighbors approved the project. Their salient points were: o Neighbors liked the amount of off street parking as they said on street parking was a problem from time to time. o Appreciated that it was home ownership and not rental. o Neighbor to South requested that the drive and parking be moved to the north end of the development. o One neighbor did not necessarily have an opinion on the building design, neighbor to South really wanted a pitched roof. • The KCLBA relayed the feedback from the neighbors to our architect and the site plan changes were implemented and full drawings with a pitched roof was authorized. • Attended the Historic Preservation review meeting to receive more feedback on the proposed drawings and site plan. Received feedback and our architect implemented more changes to the drawings. Of note the HPC members really liked the flat roof design. However, for final approval we had to move the pitched roof design forward. We had our architect implement the other design changes to the pitch roof design • Attended the Historic Preservation Commission meeting for final approval where the neighbor that approved it at the meeting now opposes the development, especially the roof design that the neighbor specifically requested. Everyone was concerned about "massing" the visual size of the project. The decision was tabled until the next meeting. • Since the neighbor that we were told to please now opposed the pitched roof design and the HPC members preferred the flat roof design, the KCLBA had our architect submit the flat roof design for final approval. • At the final HPC meeting neighbor to south came out again and had a letter with a few signatures on it opposing the project. It was unanimously rejected. There were two reasons given: 1) Neighbor opposition 2) Massing. We cannot do anything about neighbor opposition but in regard to "massing" the following is the federal guidelines: "New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment." I am not sure what the heck HPC Members see about this project that make it not compatible with the historic integrity of the property and its environment. Look at the scaled rendering below. In closing, how in the heck did Green Cane's MASSIVE housing/retail development along Crofton pass this "massing" litmus test? Needless to say the KCLBA is out $25,000 and a TON of staff time. Never again in a Historic District, never again. Rant over...
  14. New projects in East Hills

    301 & 305 Donald.
  15. New projects in East Hills

    The KCLBA got these two lots from the City along with a requirement that the home built on it is sold to a family making at or below 80% AMI. We looked at building two small SFH's on the lot but could not make that work financially as it relates to the 80% AMI requirement. The townhouse project allowed us to create an economy of scale to keep pricing down, which is imperative due to the affordability requirements. Building 3 units at one time on one site lowers our cost per square foot. Recent changes to Grand Rapids zoning allows these to be built without having to go through the very costly process of a zoning variance. Also, being able to build attached single family homes and not having to bear the expense of developing condominium documents certainly allows us to bring these type developments to the Grand Rapids market and make them affordable. Habitat could not make the numbers work either. The KCLBA lost $25,000 on this failed development! I could go on and on and on with my frustration about the denial of this project but will leave it for another day. Actually, selling the lots is exactly what we are doing. Lot For Sale signs are on site now, or should be shortly. Here is what I will watch closely though, how many people wanting to build a single family home on this lot are willing to put the amount of $ on the street to go through the HPC application, hoping it will not be turned down? We will see...