A new housing option in Hastings

The city of Hastings in southwestern Michigan recently completed its first major mixed-used development, which includes housing, in decades.

The four-story Lofts@128 are located in downtown Hastings, near a diverse mix of retailers, quaint shops, restaurants, as well as trails and parks. Situated on the Thornapple River, Hastings, like many communities experiencing growth, lacks housing options. 

“Every housing opportunity is important to Hastings. These are market-rate apartments, but we also need workforce and low-income housing. But this will have a domino effect … it will bring more housing,” says Hastings Mayor David J. Tossava.  

What’s happening: The completion of Hastings first major mixed-used development in decades. The city, about 35 miles southeast of Grand Rapids, supported the 24,000-square-foot project because of the need for more housing in the growing community and efforts to bring more people downtown. Lofts @128 were built on a site where the Hastings Moose Lodge was located; the city obtained the property in a tax auction in 2014 and later demolished the structure. The project had been in development since then. 

The project: The Loft@128 features 21 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Retail and office space are available on the ground level. The apartment amenities include oversized windows, ceramic tile backsplash, granite countertops, large walk-in closets, and luxury vinyl planking. Monthly rental rates for one-bedroom apartments begin at $1,125; two-bedroom apartments start at $1,435. Each apartment includes a single parking space, within walking distance to downtown Hastings and the city’s Riverside Park. This $4.9 million project was contracted by A.J Veneklasen of Veneklasen Construction of Grand Rapids. The company also is the developer. Ground was broken in November 2021. 

“These market-rate apartments were all rented out before the final completion date, showing Hastings has a real need for housing” says Dan King, community development director for the city of Hastings. “This is the first mixed development in its nature Hastings has seen in decades.”

Growth: The demand for apartments has been growing with the city’s population.  The population has been growing about 1 percent to 1.5 percent annually and has been on the upswing since 1990. The population grew from 6,549 in 1990 to 7,514 in the last census, in 2020. Growth is projected to continue in Hastings, the county seat and largest city in the primarily rural county. The city’s tidy downtown and proximity to major southwest Michigan cities – Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing – have helped make the city an ideal location to live. 

Mayor Tossava says the city has worked the past several years to change zoning and ordinances to improve the housing situation. Previous regulations were too restrictive and not conducive to allowing more housing. Among the changes are allowing for higher density housing, mother-in-law and above-garage apartments and duplexes.  

“It’s not hard to find a job here, it’s hard to find a place to live,” he says. 

Funding: The Michigan Economic Development Corporation provided A.J. Veneklasen, Inc., with a $750,000 community revitalization grant. This city of Hastings also provided the developer with several incentives. The city has agreed to reimburse the developer $137,000 over a six-year period for eligible expenses. The city is also offering a neighborhood enterprise zone tax abatement valued at $540,690 over a 15-year period. In addition to those credits, there will be an estimated $41,441 district tax abatement over a 12-year period. 

What's next: The city of Hasting plans to build additional housing in the future.  The city has tentatively approved an agreement for additional workforce housing, using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority awarded $1.47 million to Royal Coach Apartments, a new 60-unit apartment building in downtown Hastings. The developer is General Capital and Gun Lake Investments. Construction is expected to begin this year.

The award was part of $27.9 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by MSHDA in 2021 to construct new affordable multifamily rental housing and to rehabilitate existing properties for low- to moderate-income Michigan residents. 

“We have a need for all kinds of housing in Hastings, everything from single-family  homes, multi-family homes, condos, more apartments – the housing will bring more people to our downtown area,” King says.
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