Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

March 9, 2014

Low-income housing project lost

TRAVERSE CITY — A development group lost control of 15 acres on the city’s west side, and along with it their proposal to develop 102 low-income, work-force housing apartments.

City commissioners shot down the proposal in February over concerns they lacked enough time or information to make a decision. But they also invited the developers to return at a future date to discuss the proposal in more in-depth fashion.

Property owner Traverse City State Bank subsequently accepted a back-up offer for the land on East Traverse Highway just west of Tom’s West Bay. City planners recently reversed the zoning that would have allowed apartments and returned the land to single-family housing at bank officials’ request.

“I think it’s really unfortunate,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said. “Certainly, the last couple of months has made it quite obvious we need to deal with housing as a priority issue.

“But sometimes if you move too fast even with a good idea it comes back to haunt you,” Easterday said.

The project developers, Ohio-based The Woda Group Inc., attempted to meet a Feb. 14 application deadline from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority that would allow the group to qualify for tax credits. The program requires developers to apply for a payment in lieu of property taxes that would have waived about $330,000 in local and school property taxes.

P. Craig Patterson, vice president of development for the Woda Group, said he knew that night in February the bank might not extend their purchase option, but he opted not to use that as leverage.

“There’s no hard feelings,” Patterson said. “We still like Traverse City a lot. We are always looking and hopefully we will find something that is acceptable and meets the needs of the city.”

The request prompted city officials to assign the planning commission with developing criteria and identifying locations acceptable for low-income and subsidized housing.

Planning Commissioner Cecil McNally said commissioners likely won’t see a similarly sized proposal to the Woda Group’s plan because the city has few, if any, vacant 15- or 10-acre residential parcels.

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