Public-private partners begin urban housing development
A new public-private housing development underway is intended to draw suburbanites to a downtown in the region.
The city of Muskegon is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for the roughly $1.65-million Midtown Square today at 2 p.m. at Fifth Street, between Monroe Avenue and Houston Avenue, where downtown Muskegon meets the Nelson neighborhood.
The homes are anticipated to be completed by next spring.
Midtown Square will comprise nine single family, stand-alone homes located within the blocks of Houston and Monroe avenues, between Fourth and Fifth streets.
The three-and four-bedroom homes will range from 1,800-2,100 square feet.
Frank Peterson, city manager for the city of Muskegon, said the housing development will offer individuals and families an opportunity to live downtown with all of the amenities expected in new housing.
“There is a great need for quality new housing in our downtown area,” Peterson said. “Citizens have told us they want to live downtown, but can’t quire find the homes that meet their needs.”
The city will be responsible for “costs associated with building the nine new homes, including realtor fees,” according to the contract submitted to the Muskegon City Commission.
Construction is expected to reach $1.5 million. Some of the additional costs of the project were nearly $60,000 in acquisition, another $10,000 to $15,000 in city services, such as water and sewage connection, and an anticipated $10,000 in permits, according to Peterson.
“We worked out an arrangement with the builder where they would come in, if we essentially bring the seed money,” Peterson said. “Allen Edwin Homes also did the architecture. They designed these houses, brought them to the proper authorities and made sure it met all necessary requirements before the city had to put any dollars into the project.”
By designing the homes, Peterson indicated the developer saved the city an additional $50,000 to $70,000 in the process.
The city and the developer will have some joint marketing on the new development once it is completed, and the city plans to hire two real estate brokers.
Midtown Square is intended to attract new homeowners, especially individuals or families who are considered in the suburban market, to a currently “dead block” in Muskegon.
“We are looking at the people who in general have chosen to build houses out in the suburbs,” Peterson said. “We recognize the neighborhood is already full of great people, but we don’t have a whole lot of middle-class folks.”
While the city is not expecting nine houses to completely revitalize the area, Peterson said it’s a step in the right direction and could have an immediate positive impact on the park across the street and the surrounding neighborhood.
“Downtown Muskegon is a viable place to live, it is a viable place to work and a viable place to be,” Peterson said. “We are actually going to try to infuse market-rate people into the neighborhood who bring buying power into the city.”