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Sunday, 20 May 2018 19:43

Plaza Roosevelt development gets city support, affordable housing funding still uncertain

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Plaza Roosevelt development gets city support, affordable housing funding still uncertain COURTESY PHOTO

GRAND RAPIDS –– A collaborative development project on Grand Rapids’ southwest side continues to take shape, even while the fate of planned a affordable housing component remains uncertain.

On Wednesday, the City of Grand Rapids’ Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved the submission of a grant to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to help offset remediation costs for Plaza Roosevelt, a proposed redevelopment in the city’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

If approved at the state level, the grant would provide at least $162,000 to offset environmental costs, but could fetch the city up to $1 million depending on demand for funds statewide, according to Kara Wood, executive director of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the city’s economic development director.

“$162,000 isn’t meeting the needs (of this project) and the DEQ recognizes that,” Wood said. “This is one of their top two projects.”  

Should the grant be approved, crews could begin work at the site this summer, Wood said.

Planned for 24 parcels bounded by Grandville Avenue, Franklin Street, Graham Street and Century Avenue, the Plaza Roosevelt project is led by Habitat for Humanity of Kent County along with community partners Grand Rapids Public Schools, Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids, Mercy Health, Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities and Ferris State University, as MiBiz has previously reported.

Components of the redevelopment include a new high school, medical center, public park and two 24-unit affordable housing buildings with ground-floor commercial space.

The housing component of the development would be built by Dwelling Place, a Grand Rapids-based affordable housing developer.

The organization applied for federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) last month, according to state documents.

The competitive federal tax credits used for the majority of affordable housing projects are administered in the state by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).

Applicants for LIHTC provide a self-score of their projects, while MSHDA also provides a score based on a wide variety of criteria such as geography and access to transit.

In the case of the Dwelling Place projects for Plaza Roosevelt, the two buildings had self scores of 107 and 97, far below the top self-scored projects in the state, which were in the 150s and 160s, according to MSHDA documents.

The state housing organization won’t announce the LIHTC recipients until later this summer.

However, Dwelling Place staffers say it’s common for projects to not receive awards on the first try and then have to resubmit in a following round.

“We’re very much committed to our contribution to Plaza Roosevelt,” Stephen Wooden, a housing and community development associate at Dwelling Place, told MiBiz. “If that means going at it again, we’re perfectly happy strengthening our application.”

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