Small Town Projects Bring Affordable Housing—and More Jobs—to Michigan

After renovations are complete, Frozen Farms, a locally owned cooperative meat market, plans to move into this long-vacant, blighted space in the heart of downtown Calumet. (Courtesy/Visit Keweenaw)

By Kyle Kaminski

April 12, 2023

A raft of new development projects announced this week are expected to build 60 new homes, create 14 full-time jobs, and add additional business space in six different Michigan communities. 

MICHIGAN—Six of Michigan’s smaller communities scored a series of state economic development grants this week to help fuel $18 million of redevelopment projects in Milan, Sturgis, Calumet, Otter Lake, Ypsilanti and Ionia, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced.

The projects are slated to involve building 60 new homes across Michigan, as well as additional spaces for businesses, which will lead to the creation of at least 14 new full-time jobs, according to Whitmer’s office. Whitmer said the projects were picked for grant funding because they’ll create construction jobs, increase affordable housing options, and promote economic growth. 

“Today’s six projects across Michigan reimagine underutilized, often historic places into productive housing or storefronts,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Together, we are going to make Michigan the best place to raise a family or start a business. Let’s keep getting it done.” 

Here’s a quick overview of the newly announced projects: 

Two Historic Building Renovations in Milan

25 and 49 E. Main St.

  • Total Cost: $1.59 million
  • State Grant Support: $595,000 (37.4%)

Developers plan to rehabilitate two historic buildings on Main Street in downtown Milan. 

The building at 49 E. Main St. will be completely restored inside and out—complete with new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. The Graceful Smile, a dental office, will continue to lease the first floor for office space. The second floor will include two new residential units. The building at 25 East Main St. will also be completely renovated—including by fixing up and leasing the vacant storefront on the first floor, adding a new roof, and restoring the brick facade.

The entire project is expected to cost a total of $1.59 million to build, including with the support of a $595,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant.

“I’m very pleased to see the investment in Milan’s downtown,” said state Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township). “Milan is one of our state’s hidden gems and this grant will help the city continue to flourish. I look forward to seeing the benefits that this project will bring” 

New Mixed-Use Development in Sturgis

105 W. Chicago Rd. 

  • Total Cost: $1 million
  • State Grant Support: $479,000 (47.9%)

Developers plan to rehabilitate a vacant three-story building in downtown Sturgis into a mixed-use project that features three apartments and 1,400 square feet of commercial space. The project will also include new windows and a restoration of the early 1900s brick facade.

Officials said the project will activate long-vacant and underutilized space downtown, ultimately adding a sense of vibrancy to the city and encouraging additional developments in the area.

Frozen Farms Moves to Downtown Calumet 

322 5th St. 

  • Total Cost: $737,778
  • State Grant Support: $324,000 (43.9%)

After renovations are complete, Frozen Farms, a locally owned cooperative meat market, plans to move into this long-vacant, blighted space in the heart of downtown Calumet. Developers also plan to add two apartments on the second floor. Officials said the project will add a new grocery shopping option to the city and bring a sense of “walkability” to the downtown district.

According to officials at the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, the project “will return some original character to a blighted, historic building that was removed decades ago, add badly needed middle market housing, and support the expansion of a thriving downtown.”

Two Historic Building Renovations in Otter Lake

Detroit Street

  • Total Cost: $568,250
  • State Grant Support: $263,600 (46.4%)

Developers plan to rehabilitate and restore two historic buildings on Detroit Street in the center of downtown Otter Lake into three new commercial spaces and four market-rate apartments. In addition to filling space in a blighted building, officials said the project will add much-needed housing to the village and promote continued economic growth in downtown Otter Lake. The village is also set to create a dedicated parking lot for the project in the nearby area. 

Dozens of New Homes in Ypsilanti

Depot Town

  • Total Cost: $12.9 million
  • Tax Incentives: $2.5 million (19.4%)
  • State Grant Support: $113,456 (0.8%)

Developers plan to build and sell 46 single-family homes on a 4.5-acre site near Depot Town in Ypsilanti. Half of the homes will be set aside for low-income families. Officials said the project will also include various public infrastructure improvements—including new lighting, sidewalks, landscaping, as well as a new public park with pathways, seating and play features for kids.  

“People across Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County are feeling the squeeze as housing becomes more and more expensive,” said Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). “I’m pleased to see the city of Ypsilanti and the state of Michigan partner to bring more affordable housing to the community.”

Mixed-Use Development in Ionia

340 W. Main St. 

  • Total Cost: $1.1 million
  • State Grant Support: $405,000 (36.8%)

Developers plan to transform another vacant building in downtown Ionia into new first-floor commercial space and three new market-rate apartments on the second floor. Officials said the project will promote growth, and bring housing, vibrancy and walkability to the downtown area. 

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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