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State provides funding to expand Traverse City housing

GLC Northern Michigan Pine, LLC and the MEDC

The property on located at 309 W. Front St. in Traverse City has been vacant for years - but construction will begin soon thanks to about $3 million loaned by the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the funding in a May 25 press release.

“As we put Michigan back to work, I’m excited about this new housing investment which will make a huge difference in the lives of Traverse City residents and help small businesses grow,” Whitmer said. "Investments in housing infrastructure are crucial as we build our economy back better from the pandemic. I welcome any funds that will make a difference in the lives of Michiganders.”

After the pandemic tightened the housing market in Northern Michigan, local officials welcomed the project. Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers said he looks forward to the building providing much-needed options for working people.

“We’re really happy that the state has been willing to focus on up-north and Traverse City to help bring some of the funding here to make development a little easier for us.”

Carruthers said it’s common for a downtown Traverse City home to sell within days of hitting the market – if it makes it to the market at all. In the past year, more people have begun moving north

“We’ve become a very popular destination. A lot of people want to live here and that’s really driven up the real estate market,” Carruthers said. “It’s become really unaffordable for the average person to try and make a go of living here.”

The 4-story project is expected to provide some relief on the tight market. It will have commercial space on the ground level and 91 rental units for mixed incomes, according to the press release.

Additionally, $3.5 million was contributed by the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority to support the creation of public sidewalk systems, streetscape, front street bridge repair, buried power lines and the long-term creation of a new public parking deck. An existing brownfield work plan valued at $243,700 was also approved

Carruthers said the community is “suffering from its successes” in marketing as a tourist destination. Even after the Front Street development project, he worries it will not be enough.

“We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage so people can afford to live in places live Traverse City,” he said. “Even with mid-range pricings, people are having a hard time finding a place to live.”

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $25.3 million and create 24 full-time jobs.

“I really appreciate the support for the city of Traverse City, recognizing that downtown projects are good for all Michiganders," Sen. Wayne Schmidt said.

Michael Livingston is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in Journalism and International Relations. He grew up in Hartland, a small town in Livingston County. After graduation in 2022, he aspires to take his reporting abroad as a correspondent.
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