Housing in northern Michigan can be hard to find, especially for those moving up here to find work.
The City of Petoskey says they’ve come across that issue far too often.
“Everyone has an aligned mission to bring more workforce housing and just more housing in general to Petoskey,” said Howard Property partner Katie Berg.
That shared mission brought the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the City of Petoskey together, along with three developers, to invest in the redevelopment of two downtown buildings, and construction of another.
Their goal is to bring 71 apartment units to the area.
“It’s going to make some great emphasis on people living in downtown Petoskey,” said Petoskey Mayor John Murphy. “It’s going to bring more people utilizing our services in Petoskey, and it’s going to make our downtown evenings more vibrant and more alive.”
MEDC Executive Vice President Michele Wildman said these three projects will revitalize vacant spaces in Petoskey, and create a place for people to live, work, and play.
“It’s absolutely critical in economic development that we have units that are affordable for our workforce, and Petoskey is certainly an example of that,” said Wildman. “You have a vibrant and thriving, not only town, but tourism industry.”
There are three projects that have been finalized.
The first is at 432 Lake Street, above City Park Grille. They’re looking to have five apartments: two studio and three one-bedroom apartments.
“I always thought that the upper level of the downtown was way underutilized and I really feel like having living space in those would really help the housing crisis,” said Bob Keedy owner of Wine Guys Holdings and owns City Park Grille. “We really wanted to improve the stock of affordable housing, and so that’s why we got involved with this project, and that’s why we had to look to support from MEDC because it wouldn’t have worked without them.”
The second is just down the street at 316 and 318 Lake Street, in a building that’s over 140 years old. They’re looking to put six apartments on the top floor, and two retail spaces on the first.
“It needs a lot of structural work, said Berg. “We have a tenant that’s currently there . . . the one tenant will continue to operate after we’re done with construction, and then we hope to bring another long term retail tenant in the space and bring something cool to Petoskey.”
The last complex will be built from the ground up at 900 Emmet Street. Currently, it’s a vacant lot, and it’s something the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation has been holding on to.
“The Community Foundation stepped in to this project a couple years ago when it had stalled out. The developer had kind of run in to road blocks in getting it started,” said Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation Director of Community Philanthropy Sarah Ford. “The Community Foundation stepped in to actually purchase the property at that time, and our vision at the time was to just preserve it for workforce housing.”
They want to put in 60 one, two, and three bedroom apartments, with Northern Homes Community Development Corporation owning and managing the project.
“Anecdotally, we’ve been hearing for years that housing is just one of the biggest barriers to our workforce development, to our economic vitality,” Ford said. “What we know is we need many different types of housing at many different price points.”
All projects expect to start construction or renovations at the end of August or September.
“It’s exciting to see the Petoskey area partners and development teams and municipal partners coming together to make that happen,” said Wildman.