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Sunday, 24 November 2013 18:42

Lack of MSHDA support stops proposed GR housing project

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Plans for a new Grand Rapids housing development along the Grand River have derailed after the state opted not to support the project with a key incentive.

Without the lucrative Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, The Woda Group LLC’s 93-unit mostly subsidized housing complex at the site of a former Ryder Truck storage and maintenance facility at 936 Front Street NW has been put on hold indefinitely.

The Westerville, Ohio-based developer and property management firm worked with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, but state officials said the timing just wasn’t right in the neighborhood for the $13 million development.

“We worked hard with MSHDA and the city was fabulous to give us everything we needed, but some thought we were a little bit early in terms of the gentrification of that area,” said Craig Patterson, vice president of development for The Woda Group. “The area still leans strongly toward commercial, industrial uses.”

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission approved the project at a Jan. 10 meeting, agreeing that it fit the city’s master plan for mixed development in the area. The adjacent riverfront properties are underutilized with single lots, single buildings and paved surfaces, according to planning commission documents.

The city’s master plan envisions the area changing from industrial-related uses to mixed uses over time. However, MSHDA believed it was too early in the neighborhood’s transformation try to leverage the LIHTC program for the project, Patterson said.

Still, the firm was ready to kickstart the area’s redevelopment by planting the “first flag” in the neighborhood’s transition, he said.

Muskegon-based architecture firm Hooker DeJong designed the project, which featured a three-story building with 60 units that included 12 three-bedroom floor plans, 36 two-bedroom apartments and 12 one-bedroom units.

Plans also called for 13 two-story or three-story townhouses that faced the river. The project included 96 parking spaces wrapped in between the structures, small green space and a river walk. Twenty-four of the units were to be set aside as housing for veterans, Patterson said.

The closest multi-family housing to the site on the west side of the river is River House Condominiums.

“We’re highly interested in Grand Rapids and we’re always looking for locations that make the best sense for our target populations,” Patterson said. “We’re still looking at ways to develop the parcel, but I don’t think we have the controlling position right now.”

The property, which Ryder has listed for sale by CBRE | Grand Rapids, currently has a standing offer from a potential commercial user pending a reduction in the sale price to $1.2 million, according to Robert Horn, vice president of brokerage services and industrial adviser for the Grand Rapids office.

In addition to the standing offer, the property has at least one other interested buyer, also a commercial user looking for warehouse space, Horn said.

When MiBiz spoke to Horn, he said Ryder could approve the price reduction within a week. Horn said no other residential developers have come forward as potential buyers.

He said he expects the property to maintain a commercial or industrial use.

“The area doesn’t really have a real variety of (retail) services around it,” Horn said. “That might change down the road, but it will take some time.”

Read 2014 times Last modified on Friday, 22 November 2013 14:04
Elijah Brumback

Staff Writer

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