BY KATHY GIBBONS
TRAVERSE CITY — Jason Bryant is so glad to be home.
Bryant, 21, moved into his new apartment at Cottage 36 in the Grand Traverse Commons about two weeks ago. He's originally from Florida but relocated to Traverse City in 2010 and works at Great Wolf Lodge's front desk.
Bryant lived in Bay Hill Apartments in Traverse City when he heard about the renovation of what originally was a ward for male residents at Traverse City State Hospital that would make way for 29 new units of affordable housing.
He added his name to the waiting list, and in June when he learned he'd made the cut, moved into a borrowed camper and lived in a friend's yard in South Boardman rather than sign an interim lease somewhere else.
Now Bryant and his 7-month-old chihuahua, Declan, are resettled in their brand new apartment in Cottage 36.
"I technically pay about the same that I was paying before, except that the utilities are included here," Bryant said. "So that definitely cuts about $150 from my budget.
"Compared to everywhere else, to live in a place like this "¦ would be well over $800 — and I don't pay that."
Local officials planned to gather today for a ceremonial grand opening of Cottage 36, which straddles the Garfield Township and City of Traverse City line. Residents moved into the apartments over the past couple of weeks.
Developer Bob Jacobson of LC Consultants said rents in Cottage 36 include utilities and range from $495 to $742 for a one-bedroom unit, with two-bedrooms going for $594 to $891, depending on a tenant's income.
To qualify, a single person must earn between 40 and 60 percent of the median area income — that means from $18,480 to $27,720. For two, it's $21,120 to $31,680, and on from there.
Units range from 500- to 750-square feet for one bedroom; 750- to 1,000-square feet for two bedrooms and up to 1,200-square feet in a three-bedroom apartment. They also feature the high ceilings and big windows that mark the Commons' architecture.
Cottage 36 is the second affordable housing project that Jacobson's company developed at the Commons. Its 630 Lofts project opened last year with 39 units in Building 50.
The bulk of Cottage 36's financing came through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the access vehicle to use federal low-income housing tax credits, Jacobson said. J.P. Morgan Chase served as construction lender and Royal Bank of Canada's U.S. Capital Market Group provided the equity investment.
"There is a rental housing shortage in the community and to be able to build housing that's affordable and within the city limits and accessible to a lot of other things, be it jobs, the hospital and shopping, it's nice," Jacobson said. "It's kind of a pleasure and a thrill to be part of rebuilding the hospital."
For Bryant, it's a pleasure and a thrill to have such a nice apartment in close proximity to the merchants at the Commons and the rest of downtown Traverse City.
"Everything is brand new," he said. "It's so nice and clean. I love it."