Grand Haven collaborative workforce housing project taking shape

A first-of-its-kind development to address the shortage of workforce housing is taking shape in Grand Haven.

Dubbed Robinson Landing, the neighborhood is going up just north of the Grand Haven Memorial Airport. The 30 single-family home development will address an identified housing need by offering new construction homes priced from about $140,000 to $280,000.

The $7.5 million project spearheaded by the nonprofit developer Michigan Community Capital (MCC) is in response to a housing crisis across the state. Officials say they’re hoping to get people moved in starting January 2022.

This three-bedroom, 2.5 bath home will be priced between $140,000 to $280,000.

“This project is responding to a housing crisis we are seeing across the state,” says Marilyn Crowley, vice president of investment for MCC. “With construction prices skyrocketing and a large number of buyers, we are seeing a shortage of housing that is priced affordably for the majority of Michigan’s workforce. It took many partners to bring this project together, and we’re excited to see the result come to life.” 

Collaborative project

What makes the project unique is the amount of collaboration utilized to connect all the necessary elements. The city of Grand Haven, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Ottawa County, Grand Haven Charter Township, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation and MCC worked conjointly to create a project that met housing needs. Together, they can ensure half of the Robinson Landing homes are affordable for households with incomes between 60% and 80% of the area median income (AMI). Additional support came from BlueWest Properties and DK Design.

This three bedroom, two-bath house will be priced from about $140,000 to $280,000.

“This project is a model for nonprofit/governmental cooperation,” says Pat McGinnis, Grand Haven City Manager. “When we all put our full toolbox into play, we can create attainable workforce housing in Ottawa County.”

The city laid the groundwork for the project and more like it when the Grand Haven City Council approved a new zoning ordinance in January. It aims to improve housing choice and supply across the city by streamlining the zoning approval process for developers, among other key changes.

Housing Next, an Ottawa County-based nonprofit and housing advocate, commissioned a housing study in December 2018 that identified moderately priced housing as a high-level need.

Formerly owned by the city of Grand Haven, the 7.5-acre parcel on Comstock Street will allow residents easy access to downtown. The project site was transferred from the city to the Ottawa County Land Bank in November 2020. MCC purchased the land at a reduced price of $32,000 earlier this year to encourage the affordability of the neighborhood development. 

GHACF investment

Last year, the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation (GHACF) approved a $1.5 million low-interest investment in MCC to encourage the creation of middle-income housing in Northwest Ottawa County. 

“Solving the workforce housing crisis takes innovative thinking, and we believe this partnership with MCC is a key step to getting there,” says Hadley Streng, president of GHACF. “We’ve been focused on supporting housing solutions for all income levels in our community for years, and it’s why we helped co-found Housing Next in 2017. We’re inspired by the collaboration of our partner organizations throughout Ottawa County that have brought us to this point.” 

This two bedroom, one bath house will be priced from about $140,000 to $280,000.

Just over half of the 30 homes in Robinson Landing will be in the Grand Haven Area Community Land Trust (CLT), which is a shared-equity program allowing for lower home prices because the buyer is purchasing the home, not the land. The CLT retains ownership of the land and enters into a 99-year ground lease with the homeowner. The trust was created by the city of Grand Haven and is managed by the Neighborhood Housing Services team. 

“Neighborhood Housing Services is thrilled to be spearheading the creation of the Grand Haven Area Community Land Trust,” says Rhonda Kleyn, the city department’s development coordinator. “The organizing committee has been working for months to create an amazing program for this area. This type of shared equity homeownership program results in the purchase price being more affordable because the purchaser is only buying the home, not the land. The land will be leased from the CLT at a very low monthly cost. It’s likely the potential CLT buyers already rent or work in Grand Haven, and we are excited to work with them to purchase an affordable, newly built home.“ 

Income and pricing

Homes in this program have income restrictions for buyers that target households with incomes between 60% and 80% of the area median income (AMI determined by Michigan State Housing Development Authority). 

Homes in the CLT program are priced at $139,900 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home; $159,900 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home; and $179,900 for a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom two-story home. (More detailed information about the homes offered and CLT program can be found at robinsonlandingmi.com.)

This is a layout of a three bedroom, two bath home in the Robinson Landing neighborhood.

The remaining 14 homes are not on a ground lease, do not have income restrictions, and are considered market-rate homes. These market-rate homes are priced at $239,900 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch-style home; and $279,900 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom two-story home.

Built by The DK Design Group, all 30 homes will have identical high-quality finishes and construction that is slab-on-grade with wood-frame, stick-built framing. Stainless steel GE appliances are included in the sale price — a value of more than $5,000 that includes a gas stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washer, and dryer. 

Homeowners purchasing prior to the home’s construction deadline will be able to choose finishes from preselected options. These finish choices include cabinetry, countertops, flooring, and the exterior package with siding, stone veneer, entry door color, and asphalt shingles. 

Two-phase construction

The project is being constructed in two phases. The first phase will span 16 months and consist of site preparation and infrastructure to serve the entire site, as well as the construction of 15 homes. Eight of the 15 homes in the first phase will be in the Community Land Trust program. Once 75% of the homes in Phase I are sold, Phase II will begin. 

BlueWest Properties, a West Michigan brokerage, is serving as the listing real estate company in the sale of the homes. Driven philanthropically to serve their community, the owner/broker has agreed to a reduced commission, allowing home prices to remain low for buyers. 

“The BlueWest Properties team is grateful to have been chosen to represent the city of Grand Haven’s first Community Land Trust development,” says Meghan Heritage, owner and broker at BlueWest. “We know that affordable housing is a paramount part of a successful community, and as our company tagline states, ‘Better Real Estate for a Better Community.’ We are excited to once again put our hands to work to benefit the community.” 

Related:

Foundation’s $1.5 million investment targets creation of workforce housing

 

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.