Traverse City News and Events

City To Consider Tax Break For Affordable Housing Project On Eighth Street

By Beth Milligan | June 17, 2019

Traverse City commissioners will consider approving a tax break for a proposed affordable housing project on Eighth Street – one of several items on a full meeting agenda tonight (Monday).

HomeStretch Nonrprofit Housing Corporation is planning to build six two-story townhome-style apartments at 1210 and 1216 East Eighth Street (pictured) near the intersection of Eighth Street and Garfield Avenue. Neighboring dentist Dr. Stanley Smyka owns the parcels and approached HomeStretch about developing the unused section of his property into housing. The project would remove two blighted houses from the site and build six two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom units approximately 973 square feet each in size.

According to project documents, the proposed Oakwood Townhomes Apartments would have four units rented out at $720 per month, targeted at residents earning at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) level. An additional two “workforce” units would be rented at $930 per month, targeted at residents earning at or below 80 percent of the AMI level. The units would have barrier-free access and include trash collection (other utilities would be paid separately by tenants). The site would have 11 on-site parking spaces.

HomeStretch’s estimated total investment in the project is $1.255 million, including $820,000 in construction costs. The organization estimates the project will generate 21 jobs during construction and aims to “to source contractors and materials from the Traverse City/Grand Traverse County region,” as it did with its Depot Neighborhood units. “Once fully leased, it is expected that many of the adjacent businesses will see increased sales because of the newly established six residences,” HomeStretch wrote in its application. The group notes the units are within a “one-mile walking distance of downtown with every amenity possible” and that the apartments will be “compatible with the surrounding area and will create a private courtyard facing the neighborhood behind the Eighth Street corridor.”

HomeStretch is seeking a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PiLOT) agreement with the city, a deal that would allow Homestead to forego paying traditional property taxes and instead pay a percentage of its rental income to the city. HomeStretch is seeking a four percent PILOT deal that would put the organization’s annual payment to the city at $3,312; however, city staff are recommending commissioners set the rate at six percent instead for an annual payment of $4,968.

HomeStretch already has Oakwood Townhomes Apartments highlighted on its website, with information provided regarding affordability requirements. The organization also lists another planned project on Fern Street that will bring four new loft-style “micro units” featuring two bedrooms and 1.5 baths to the Traverse Heights neighborhood near Garfield and Carver streets. City commissioners are being asked to waive the normal 28-day waiting period for PILOT requests and approve the Oakwood Townhomes Apartment deal tonight. City Manager Marty Colburn says that’s because “the project is small and doesn’t require as much to review, so (we) felt that it was in the interest of all parties to proceed. The city commission can wait if they desire, but (the application) is fairly easy to decipher.”

If approved, the project would be the third PILOT deal commissioners have approved for affordable housing projects along the Eighth Street corridor this year. Two others are planned by Woda Cooper Companies: one on Wellington Street near Safe Harbor, and one on a vacant lot north of the The Filling Station Microbrewery on Railroad Avenue.

Also at tonight’s commission meeting…
In addition to the HomeStretch project and a proposed moratorium on new liquor licenses in the city, city commissioners tonight will vote on ballot language to ask voters this fall to renew funding for parks projects. The vote follows several meeting discussions about the proposal, which will seek a renewal of the Brown Bridge Parks Trust Brown Bridge Trust Parks Improvement Fund. The special fund was approved by residents in 2014 to use money from oil and gas royalties to pay for city park improvements. It expires this year, and commissioners will seek to renew it for another five years – with a specific caveat in the ballot language that no single project will receive more than $250,000 from the fund, in order to benefit as many parks as possible.

Commissioners will also consider applying for a $10,133 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to go toward replacing two boilers and retrofitting lighting at the city-owned Carnegie Building. The grant would obligate the city to contribute $20,442 of its own funds toward the project. Commissioners will also consider approving appointments to several boards, including the Grand Traverse County Criminal Justice Board, the City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority Board, the Grand Traverse County Township Association, the Traverse City Planning Commission, and the Grand Traverse Commons Joint Planning Commission.

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