GR_Urbanist

71-unit housing development eyed for Southeast Grand Rapids neighborhood

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http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/04/71-unit_housing_development_ey.html#incart_river

 

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The $15 million project, which includes commercial space along Eastern Avenue, will take up more than half of the block north of Thomas Street between Eastern and Charles avenues.

The development will replace several older homes and a towing service that stand among several vacant lots in the neighborhood.

Groundbreaking for the affordable housing development is at least a year away, DeRoo said. The project's first hurdle will be on April 23, when it seeks the city Planning Commission's special land use approval for three rowhouse buildings with 15 housing units along Thomas Street and Charles Avenue.

Two larger four-story buildings will include ground-floor commercial space along Eastern Avenue, DeRoot said. The units will include 24 rental units on the three upper floors. Two townhouse buildings in the center of the development will include eight units.

 

I'm very excited so far from just the little bit they had to show They really look like they are going to pack in a ton of development in this small space! Could even set off a building renovation boom working back towards Wealthy.

 

The only wild cards are the whole "low income" housing aspect, and if the retail portion will be something that will bring people into the area and hopfully start to drown out the crime and blight issues.

Edited by GR_Urbanist

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http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/04/71-unit_housing_development_ey.html#incart_river

 

-cc05d277ff3c8e28.jpg

 

 

I'm very excited so far from just the little bit they had to show They really look like they are going to pack in a ton of development in this small space! Could even set off a building renovation boom working back towards Wealthy.

 

The only wild cards are teh whole "low income" housing aspect, and if the retail portion will be something that will bring people into the area and hopfully start to drown out the crime and blight issues.

 

 

There was this on WOODTV8:

 

post-2672-0-20123400-1428366807_thumb.jp

 

http://woodtv.com/2015/04/06/mixed-use-development-planned-for-se-gr/

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Those corners are certainly interesting.  Don't think I've quite seen that before.

g3AlyLu.jpg

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Is this project a form of rent control like section 8 or LIHTC?

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Those corners are certainly interesting.  Don't think I've quite seen that before.

g3AlyLu.jpg

 

 

I have: on a dutch hat in the Tulip Parade. 

Is this project a form of rent control like section 8 or LIHTC?

 

LIHTC. 

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I have: on a dutch hat in the Tulip Parade. 

 

LIHTC. 

 

Cannot be unseen.

I fear there may be complaints about LIHTC on this, but with this project I think it's a good thing, really.  Improve the neighbourhood for the people already there instead of improving it by pricing them out and pushing them elsewhere.

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Cannot be unseen.

I fear there may be complaints about LIHTC on this, but with this project I think it's a good thing, really.  Improve the neighbourhood for the people already there instead of improving it by pricing them out and pushing them elsewhere.

 

GC43.jpg

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Other than the corners, looks almost identical (albeit much larger) to the units LINC just finished on Hall.

 

I'm really impressed with what LINC continues to accomplish. They're doing a lot of good work on the SE side.

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Maybe the architect meant to do something more like this:

 

humboldt-gardens_01.jpg

 

 

There are plenty of examples of architects flaring the corners of an apartment building, but either make it wider and more subtle or go big. The in between stuff = yuck. 

 

Otherwise good job LINC.

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Might anger some folks with this, but seems the Salon is griping about the scale.  If it were some 12 storey structure, sure, scale is out of place.  But this is only 4, a common one used when upgrading from housing to apartment blocks.  Especially when doing lower-income, regardless of LIHTC or not, numbers have to work and I doubt "preserving the single family feel" with a bunch of separated 2 storey apartment buildings will ever result in development.

Worry about scale is understandable but I wonder if some are running with that like a NIMBY bat.

The reality: This is near Wealthy.  The next progression in growth means expanding into neighbourhoods like this one with large projects.  There is a rental shortage in the city, so bad we make #1 in the country for low vacancies.  There are only so many developers in the area.  Complaining about scale is an argument of "I'm personally worried about the visual" vs. people being unable to live in the city because there's not enough housing.

Again, if this were 12 storeys the scale issue would be warranted, but it's only 4, it's not the end of the world.

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Might anger some folks with this, but seems the Salon is griping about the scale.  If it were some 12 storey structure, sure, scale is out of place.  But this is only 4, a common one used when upgrading from housing to apartment blocks.  Especially when doing lower-income, regardless of LIHTC or not, numbers have to work and I doubt "preserving the single family feel" with a bunch of separated 2 storey apartment buildings will ever result in development.

Worry about scale is understandable but I wonder if some are running with that like a NIMBY bat.

The reality: This is near Wealthy.  The next progression in growth means expanding into neighbourhoods like this one with large projects.  There is a rental shortage in the city, so bad we make #1 in the country for low vacancies.  There are only so many developers in the area.  Complaining about scale is an argument of "I'm personally worried about the visual" vs. people being unable to live in the city because there's not enough housing.

Again, if this were 12 storeys the scale issue would be warranted, but it's only 4, it's not the end of the world.

 

 

It's the exact same scale as their project across from Duthler's (x2). Are a bunch of people complaining about scale or just one? :) 

 

15906506101_3fa5b60a98_b.jpg

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Out of the 5 people to have commented on it when I looked, three complained about scale.  Plus one more person complaining about scale after I posted the same there, too.  Is Baxter the new west side?

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Also a couple complaints about demolishing perfectly good homes for the project.

Maybe they're auditioning for Laughfest?

 

4tCBEnZ.png

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Also a couple complaints about demolishing perfectly good homes for the project.

Maybe they're auditioning for Laughfest?

 

4tCBEnZ.png

 

 

I left the Salon after more than a few people asked me why I participated on it. Just sayin. :) 

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Wow.  I've been tempted to do the same, lately.  It's been progressing more and more to just another mlive.

It felt like the Salon was kinda taking the wind out of the sails of this place for a while, so if it results in UP coming back to life (which seems to be happening) then may the Salon wallow in its mlivey waste.

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Visually, it's absolutely disgusting and looks like it was designed by a 14 year old with a box of Crayolas.   That's a shame, because usually this architect displays a modicum of talent.  Seems he did the Uptown Building on Wealthy, which while not great, is not a complete laughingstock.  He should look to the example of Cherry Street Capital's project in Cherry Hill if he wants to get it right.  Granted, it took an army of people to lead them by the nose kicking and screaming, but they finally got it right.  Just because you're poor doesn't mean you should have to live in clownish apartments. 

 

The scale, though, I don't think is out of proportion.  Four stories is perfectly reasonable. 

 

There's also some viable questioning on mLive about the economics of the project.  The construction costs per unit seem extremely high, even if you factor in the retail space.  We're talking over $170,000 per unit for apartment buildings that aren't that attractive on the exterior, and don't appear to be built with first rate materials by any stretch of the imagination.  At, say, 900 square feet each, construction costs for low income apartments are around $180 to $190 a foot?

 

EDIT:  There's also some good questioning on WoodTV8's comments about the wisdom of putting up 70 tightly packed low income units in this area.  It's a fairly complex issue that we've waded into before.  It might be a little beyond the scope of commenting on this project, but it's a valid question, and fair to note that projects like this have been justifiably criticized  and shown to be bad ideas in multiple studies.  Defensible space theory, and all that. 

 

Pragmatically, I'm just irked that we're using taxpayer money to built $170,000 houses in a $50,000 neighborhood to keep it "affordable" for people who already live there.  We're spending a fortune to keep stuffing disadvantaged people in a crap neighborhood.  Smaller development in good areas with ownable housing has been shown repeatedly to work better.  If we're burning the money, at least stop buildings housing projects which have been shown time and again to be awful ideas. 

 

I like the idea of more apartments that are built higher.  Everything else about the project, however, seems ill-advised to me.

Edited by x99

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That part of town is an area I can only doubt that most of the people on Salon have ever casually visited, let alone have ever lived in. Goodness knows I cant blame anyone for bailing on that place. My eyes could not take the number of times I've had to roll them reading it.

 

Franklin and Eastern needs something big and ambitious to launch that area out of its decades-long dormant state. Some frilly rehab of a few houses or a short building scheme isnt going to give the results that it needs. Losing less than a handful of "single family" homes is nothing seeing that this part of town has hundreds of others.

 

I can only imagine that the people that live and work there will be more than thrilled with this level of investment seeeing that all of it has been taking place just right up the street on Wealthy. To counter the blight, marginal businesses, and crime activity, you have to go big.

 

This project is just TOO IMPORTANT to get screwd up over some nonsense about scale or preseving housing stock. Although I will agree that it isnt the nicest looking thing they could have designed, I'm sure based on past examples, that it will get tweaked.

Edited by GR_Urbanist

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EDIT:  There's also some good questioning on WoodTV8's comments about the wisdom of putting up 70 tightly packed low income units in this area.  It's a fairly complex issue that we've waded into before.  It might be a little beyond the scope of commenting on this project, but it's a valid question, and fair to note that projects like this have been justifiably criticized  and shown to be bad ideas in multiple studies.  Defensible space theory, and all that. 

 

No offense, but that line of "questioning" is silly (and figures that it came from WOOD commenters).  71 units on a block that size is not "tightly packed."  Where do they think this is, a Bronx tenement?  Cabrini Green?  Get a grip.  It's still Southeast Grand Rapids.  Let's not argue about scale to the point where we lose our sense of it completely.  Did the Southtown Square apartments turn Madison back into a jungle?  Ask those residents how they feel about "defensible space."  Obviously that corner isn't the most prosperous part of town (and still won't be), but the new housing there has done more to stabilize the neighborhood than harm it.

Edited by RegalTDP
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Visually, it's absolutely disgusting and looks like it was designed by a 14 year old with a box of Crayolas.   That's a shame, because usually this architect displays a modicum of talent.  Seems he did the Uptown Building on Wealthy, which while not great, is not a complete laughingstock.  He should look to the example of Cherry Street Capital's project in Cherry Hill if he wants to get it right.  Granted, it took an army of people to lead them by the nose kicking and screaming, but they finally got it right.  Just because you're poor doesn't mean you should have to live in clownish apartments. 

 

The scale, though, I don't think is out of proportion.  Four stories is perfectly reasonable. 

 

There's also some viable questioning on mLive about the economics of the project.  The construction costs per unit seem extremely high, even if you factor in the retail space.  We're talking over $170,000 per unit for apartment buildings that aren't that attractive on the exterior, and don't appear to be built with first rate materials by any stretch of the imagination.  At, say, 900 square feet each, construction costs for low income apartments are around $180 to $190 a foot?

 

EDIT:  There's also some good questioning on WoodTV8's comments about the wisdom of putting up 70 tightly packed low income units in this area.  It's a fairly complex issue that we've waded into before.  It might be a little beyond the scope of commenting on this project, but it's a valid question, and fair to note that projects like this have been justifiably criticized  and shown to be bad ideas in multiple studies.  Defensible space theory, and all that. 

 

Pragmatically, I'm just irked that we're using taxpayer money to built $170,000 houses in a $50,000 neighborhood to keep it "affordable" for people who already live there.  We're spending a fortune to keep stuffing disadvantaged people in a crap neighborhood.  Smaller development in good areas with ownable housing has been shown repeatedly to work better.  If we're burning the money, at least stop buildings housing projects which have been shown time and again to be awful ideas. 

 

I like the idea of more apartments that are built higher.  Everything else about the project, however, seems ill-advised to me.

 

I thought the city was pushing more toward "inclusionary zoning." Maybe not ipso facto but in spirit, like requiring 20 Fulton E to have mixed LIHTC and market rate. Should they not expect the same here? Is this area doomed to always be a haven for low income folks? 

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 I guess it shouldn't surprise me what people complain about.  I may be a resident optimist but I fail to understand how 71 new housing units on an abandoned block in a long struggling section of the city shouldn't be applauded.   LIHTC also attracts a more desirable resident base than section 8 which was what has traditionally been in that neighborhood.   I don't see how anyone loses here. 

 

Not to mention investment going into a part of the city that even 10 years ago seemed like it could never come back. 

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No offense, but that line of "questioning" is silly (and figures that it came from WOOD commenters).  71 units on a block that size is not "tightly packed."  Where do they think this is, a Bronx tenement?  Cabrini Green?  Get a grip.  It's still Southeast Grand Rapids.  Let's not argue about scale to the point where we lose our sense of it completely.  Did the Southtown Square apartments turn Madison back into a jungle?  Ask those residents how they feel about "defensible space."  Obviously that corner isn't the most prosperous part of town (and still won't be), but the new housing there has done more to stabilize the neighborhood than harm it.

 

For the neighborhood, this is fairly dense.  Historical development patterns would have supported, at most, about 30-40 units in this space, all with private yards and private open space.  That said, my gripe is not with the density of the project.  The problem is compacting a bunch of low income housing into relatively dense quarters at extraordinary cost.  Southtown Square is a shiny, brand new project.  The actual cost of Southtown wasn't completely clear, but what is clear is that per unit cost exceeded $250,000 (including an offset for 6000sf of commercial space).  Chew on that for a bit.  How that project works out, long term, is not at all clear. 

 

What is clear, however, is that historical precedent indicates projects like this are likely wasted money.  See, for example, http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/04/tired_and_blighted_non-profits.html.  These projects, only thirty years old, were so ruined that they had to be demolished or gutted in under 30 years.

 

I like to see development happen, but when it is heavily subsidized housing that "we" are all paying for, I think we have a particular right to scrutinize the project to ensure it is done right.  Building and destroying (or gutting) structures in 30 years cycles is patently foolish.  Habitat for Humanity or ICCF, for example, seem to do a far better job with their projects. 

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X99, you give one example of a poorly planned and poorly run LIHTC deal here in GR and make the assumption that LINC is not going to manage or carry out this project well?  They did Avenue Apartments on Madison and Gilbert, Uptown Village on Diamond and Wealthy, Roosevelt Park Lofts on Grandville, Southtown Square on Hall, and all of the Southown Townhomes scattered throughout the neighborhood.  They were also involved in the brick town homes on Madison just south of Hall.  All of these projects have been huge for these neighborhoods.  All are very well run, still in great shape (Avenue Apts and the brick town homes are almost 10 years old).  All of these apartment complexes are for working class families.  You have to have the ability to pay in order to get into them.  Rents are reasonable but not ridiculously low.  On average $550-$625 for a 2 bedroom, and $675-$800 for a 3 bedroom.

 

I am currently working with a large group of folks on the West Side because almost all of the affordable rental housing is gone.  A recent study of the Harrison Park School neighborhood shows that there are about 250 families attending this school that are in housing crisis.  The need for affordable housing on the West Side is significant and almost all available developable land or buildings have already been snatched up by for profit developers.  

 

In fact look at every neighborhood in GR other then the near SE side and you will see rents rising so fast that working class families cannot afford to live there.  Additionally, there are several major developers looking to purchase and develop market rate housing in the Eastern Ave Corridor between Wealthy and Franklin.  This project is a preemptive move to establish affordable working class housing in this neighborhood so that 5 years down the road they do not have what is happening on the West Side.

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X99, you give one example of a poorly planned and poorly run LIHTC deal here in GR and make the assumption that LINC is not going to manage or carry out this project well?  They did Avenue Apartments on Madison and Gilbert, Uptown Village on Diamond and Wealthy, Roosevelt Park Lofts on Grandville, Southtown Square on Hall,

 

So what's your point?  Costs don't matter? 

 

I am happy to see housing being built, but not when it is fiscally irresponsible and repeats the mistakes of the past.  Per MSHDA, the 20 year old units that were demolished suffered from claimed “Poor quality construction and design as well as a high concentration of low income residents also have contributed to its ineffectiveness.”  Based on external appearances and site plans, this project is more of the same. 

 

It makes more sense to bring in new singlewide manufactured housing, by any rational measure.  At $170,000 to $200,000 per unit, and often higher, this stuff is so expensive to build that people making an average median income for the area generally could not afford to buy it.  It costs double or often triple what surrounding single family houses sell for.  It costs more than the new market rate stuff being built at around $150,000 per unit.  People living in this stuff live better than the rest of us, at the expense of all the rest of us.  This is not a system that works very well, or makes any sense to continue.

 

Don't get me wrong, I know the financial issues are a larger problem than this one project, but it's a big part of the intense opposition to these projects.  That, and this one is hideous.

Edited by x99

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Thanks for your reply X99, I'm not going to wade into these waters with you as I know where it will end up.

I've done 3 LITC projects and know what they take, what they cost, and what runs the numbers up. I won't argue that the minute you involve government funding costs go up 25% at least. It's a philosophical or ideological difference of opinion whether or not this is the right thing to do. My point is two-fold.

One, I think your assumption that LINC's developments are going to go the route of the one failed LIHTC project in GR is seriously flawed and not based on any fact.

And two, that preservation of affordable rental in this neighborhood is needed and important as there is a large wave of market rate following close at its heels.

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So what's your point?  Costs don't matter? 

 

I am happy to see housing being built, but not when it is fiscally irresponsible and repeats the mistakes of the past.  Per MSHDA, the 20 year old units that were demolished suffered from claimed “Poor quality construction and design as well as a high concentration of low income residents also have contributed to its ineffectiveness.”  Based on external appearances and site plans, this project is more of the same. 

 

It makes more sense to bring in new singlewide manufactured housing, by any rational measure.  At $170,000 to $200,000 per unit, and often higher, this stuff is so expensive to build that people making an average median income for the area generally could not afford to buy it.  It costs double or often triple what surrounding single family houses sell for.  It costs more than the new market rate stuff being built at around $150,000 per unit.  People living in this stuff live better than the rest of us, at the expense of all the rest of us.  This is not a system that works very well, or makes any sense to continue.

 

Don't get me wrong, I know the financial issues are a larger problem than this one project, but it's a big part of the intense opposition to these projects.  That, and this one is hideous.

 

You keep using total cost of each unit, but what is the cost per square foot? New construction of a mid-rise is at least $150 - $160/sf, and that's for bare bones finishes. Then the "retail value" is $200/sf and up. Mid rises need multiple stairwells, elevators, common areas, wide hallways per code, fire suppression, security doors in most cases. All of these things add to the square foot cost of each unit, way more than a home or townhouse. Are you sure you're not using retail value and not "cost?"

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