Traverse City News and Events

TC Housing Commission Plans New Senior Development, Riverview Rehab

By Beth Milligan | Feb. 7, 2020

The Traverse City Housing Commission (TCHC) is gearing up to undertake two major projects: developing a new senior housing apartment building on Eighth Street and completing an extensive rehabilitation of Riverview Terrace Apartments on Pine Street.

TCHC plans to build a four-story senior apartment complex at 1223 East Eighth Street, the former site of Teboe Florist. Parkview Apartments, as the development will be called, will offer 46 units, including 34 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments. Units will be available to senior residents age 55 and older whose household incomes are between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) level. The property will feature a brick and composite siding exterior, on-site parking, a tenant community room, an elevator, on-site management offices, and laundry amenities, among other features.

TCHC Executive Director Tony Lentych says the project will help address a significant shortage in local senior housing. “The purpose of this is to relieve the three-and-a-half-year wait list we have right now that has over 100 people on it (for housing),” he says. “We think we could fill this building two-fold.” The location of the site – situated near a BATA stop and within sight of the Grand Traverse County Civic Center – is also ideal for tenants, according to Lentych. “There should be some more density around there so more people can use (the park),” he says. “Senior citizens are a perfect population to be able to take advantage of those walking trails.”

According to project documents, Parkview Apartments will redevelop a “vacant and blighted property in the heart of city…(offering) a substantial benefit to the environment and the neighborhood.” The development will include on-site stormwater retention and infiltration measures and be designed to meet Enterprise Green Communities standards. Construction is anticipated to begin in May 2021 and be completed by May 2022.

The development is contingent on two factors: securing local and federal tax credits and obtaining approval of a text amendment to the city’s zoning code. TCHC will go before Traverse City commissioners in the coming weeks to ask for approval of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement that would allow TCHC to pay six percent of rental income annually in place of traditional taxes. PILOT agreements – several of which have been approved by city commissioners in recent years – are designed to incentivize affordable housing by offsetting some of developers’ costs related to charging below-market rents.

The 45-year PILOT agreement proposed by TCHC would generate an estimated $21,000 payment to the city in its first year. TCHC will also apply in April for federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for the project. “Securing the requested PILOT is an absolute critical component for the financial feasibility of the proposed project, as well as for the competitiveness of the application for the LIHTC,” according to TCHC documents.

Traverse City planning commissioners this week discussed a request from TCHC to amend the city’s zoning code and scheduled a March 3 public hearing on the proposal. The city currently limits buildings to a maximum size of 13,500 square feet in its C-1 (office service) district, including the proposed TCHC property. Parkview Apartments is proposed to be significantly larger than that, however, at 39,403 square feet. The proposed text amendment would eliminate the square footage restriction for C-1 buildings as long as they are designed exclusively for residential use. City Planning Director Russ Soyring said the change could help meet the planning commission’s goal of encouraging more housing development in the city. There are no square footage maximums in the city’s C-3 or C-4 districts, he noted; C-2 is limited to 6,000 square feet, but Soyring said planning commissioners could consider lifting that also to encourage more housing in both C-1 and C-2 areas.

Planning commissioners expressed general support for the text amendment, though noted multiple issues they wanted to address as part of an approval process. Those include making it clear that residential buildings could only be used for long-term housing and not vacation rentals. “We should make it iron-clad that it is residential and not for short-term rentals,” said Planning Commissioner Janet Fleshman. Soying agreed, saying the city wanted to avoid getting any “kind of residential hotel” in larger buildings.

Planning commissioners also said they wanted to address setbacks as part of the change, to ensure larger buildings didn’t feel imposing to neighbors and pedestrians. Soyring said in the case of Parkview Apartments, TCHC had designed the complex in a way that would accommodate those concerns. “It is a larger building...but they have broken up the building quite nicely with a big indent between two masses of buildings, so it reads really like two individual buildings. I think it’s clever,” he said.

Parkview Apartments is one of a handful of major projects on TCHC’s horizon. In addition to working with BATA on a proposed $35 million transit and housing development on LaFranier Road, TCHC is also preparing to complete a significant remodel of Riverview Terrace at 150 Pine Street. The nearly 80,000 square-foot, 115-unit apartment complex was built in 1977 and is in need of a “comprehensive rehabilitation of the entire property,” according to TCHC. Plans include updating the building’s major systems, elevators, apartment interiors, common areas, windows, and exteriors, among other changes.

Tenants – who are income-restricted and primarily elderly or individuals with disabilities – will not be displaced during construction, according to project documents. The same number of apartment units will remain in place, and the building’s appearance will remain largely unaltered, with the exception of installing energy-efficient windows. TCHC will seek a four-percent PILOT from the city for Riverview Terrace as part of the project – a deal expected to generate a $25,000 payment in year one to the city – and will seek federal funding through the LIHTC program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Construction is anticipated to start in May 2021 and be completed within a year. “This level of investment will provide for a significant improvement to the quality of life for the existing and future residents at the property,” project documents state.

Pictured: Conceptual rendering of Parkview Apartments

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