Local developer Jenifer Acosta puts finishing touches on historic condo complex damaged by flood

A little more than six months into her renovation project in Midland and Jenifer Acosta isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

 

While she has spent a good number of years as a local real estate developer and community development consultant both privately and with Incremental Development, she recently added a new title to the mix as well. Acosta acquired her real estate license late last year and now also works as a commercial agent.

 

“My professional goals surround the notion of how can I pair people and businesses with the places and the spaces of their dreams that fulfill their vision,” says Acosta. “It's about creating that sense of place that's going to serve a better purpose and grow the community.”
While older buildings are what she is used to working with, Westwood is also significant for its age. This is the first time Acosta has worked on a building that is less than 50 years old.

That comes into play with every project Acosta tackles, but the condos at Westwood she started late last summer were notable for several reasons. The 10-unit complex was damaged in the flood caused by the breach of the dams on Wixom and Sanford Lakes in May. With previous projects around the Great Lakes Bay Region, this was her first development venture in Midland. It’s also the first time Acosta teamed up with her husband Anthony for a project of this scale, with her partner in crime handling project management and all the welding and custom metal work in each unit.

 

“He’s brilliant on the design side and he handled all of the kitchen designs, lots of the finishing touches, and he even made custom concrete pavers for the units that had courtyards,” says Acosta. “We’d recap many of our days discussing elements of the project, and that can be a little consuming. You have to draw the line somewhere on when to turn work off.

 

“We’re still married,” she says with a chuckle.

 

Custom finishes and concrete pavers were created for the condos.Shortly after the project started last fall, the husband and wife duo got to work, and are now working on completing the second half of the ten units.
 

“It’s been fun to see them come to life along the way and they’ve ended up being a nice mix of Scandinavian and Japanese design elements,” says Acosta. “With this project being a significant rehabilitation, it also reminds me of the Japanese practice of 'kintsugi,’ where broken items are repaired with gold. The idea behind it is that you can fix something and make it more beautiful with a little effort and care.”

 

That care has turned into proof of their value. Along with the surging housing market, the units increased in value as well, commanding higher prices for their hardwood floors, stainless steel and custom finishes – all things that support the local tax base and add value back into the community.

 

While older buildings are what she is used to working with, Westwood is also significant for its age. This is the first time Acosta has worked on a building that is less than 50 years old.

 

Because of their unique setup and proximity to areas of interest, Acosta thought they would be a great option for young working professionals. While they have drawn wide interest, those moving to Midland for work have taken note.

 

“Two of the buyers in the first round of units for sale are young professionals who are moving back to the area,” says Acosta. “Both were very interested in turnkey homes and how close they were to everything the community has to offer, which is kind of how I envisioned it when we took on this project.”
Because of their unique setup and proximity to areas of interest, Acosta thought they would be a great option for young working professionals.

One buyer happens to be especially close to Acosta – her mom was one of the buyers in the first round of condos completed and has just recently moved in.

 

“It’ll be nice to have her a mere 15 minutes away now that she has made the move to Midland,” she says. “I’m just honored she likes my work enough to want to live in it and call it home.”

 

For Susan and Tony Haight, they were drawn to Westwood Village first by its location to Downtown Midland, trails, recreation opportunities and more. The couple currently lives in a very rural area of Alcona County, in what was previously a second home they built for both leisure and retirement.

 

“It’s definitely long on water and wildlife there but short on services and civilization,” says Susan. “Plus, we found ourselves regularly making the 180-mile round trip just for the day, simply to enjoy restaurants, shows at Midland Center for the Arts or Dow Gardens over the last few years.”
The hardwood floors throughout add to the appeal.

With the flexibility in their professional roles and the changing virtual nature of work, the couple decided it was time to think about relocating, at least partially, to a more urban area and into a single-story accessible home with reduced maintenance burden.

 

Active adults, Susan says they enjoy hiking, cycling, kayaking, snowshoeing, and stargazing and the condo fits in well with those interests.

 

“The location of Westwood Village puts us within steps of numerous parks, the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, and the Tittabawassee River,” says Susan. “Having Downtown Midland just a few blocks away and recently revitalized, unique restaurants and shops, Tridge, and farmers market were all deciding factors and selling points.”

 

Seeing the work done on the units was something that solidified their choice.

 

“The units at Westwood caught my eye initially because of location, but once we inspected the interior, we were hooked. The clean lines, muted colors, and walls of windows and glass doors reflect light into and throughout the homes with vast views of surrounding woods visible from every angle,” says Susan. We liked that each condominium has its own unique floor plan, creating opportunity for us to create a one-of-a-kind interior. It also suited our purpose of designing a near-retirement lifestyle that leads to a simpler life, surrounded by the tranquility of nature, yet spacious enough to gather and share with the people we love.”


Large windows allow for plenty of light.

For Bronson Heath, it was the desire for modern finishes, limited upkeep and something recently renovated as he makes the move back to Midland. Heath completed an internship with Dow in the summer of 2020 and will be making the move from Orlando now that he has completed his degree.

 

Working with Brandon Lewis and Ayre Rhinehart to find his first home, Heath had a few items he wanted to focus on.

 

“I visited recently looking for homes and knew this was what I was looking for as soon as I saw it,” says Heath. “I couldn’t be happier and Brandon really found what suited me. I’m really excited to close and move in.”

 

Commenting on the demand she has seen so far, Acosta says she expects the final five will sell fast.

 

“We’ve had numerous real estate agents reach out and want to see them as soon as they are ready if not before they are completed. A few even have some out-of-state-buyers who are interested,” says Acosta. “I think it speaks to the need for Missing Middle Housing and the amenities the region has to offer.”

 

With the second round wrapping up in the coming months, Acosta says she has likely more demand for adaptive reuse projects as commercial owners look to convert buildings into multi-use spaces.

 

“With the pandemic, I think there is a real opportunity to help commercial owners create something that works for more than just one business or use,” she says. “It’s a good time for it, especially if you have a good construction partner and the market demand is there.”

Read more articles by Courtney Soule.

Courtney is a longtime Midland resident and enjoys telling the story of the community's evolution. She ran Catalyst Midland as the publication's managing editor from October 2017 through September 2020. Her favorite topics are interesting people, change makers, outdoor recreation and design. Aside from Catalyst, her published work can be found various places including Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog and a number of other websites, papers, menus and the occasional one-liner. 
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