Great article from our friends over at MLive. This will be great development for the the City of Muskegon Hts. and it’s residents
MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI – Nearly 30 vacant lots owned by the city of Muskegon Heights will be sold to a developer for construction of infill housing, the first new homes to be built in the city in 17 years.
New housing is desperately needed to attract people to and keep residents in the city, Muskegon Heights City Manager Troy Bell told MLive/The Muskegon Chronicle.
A sale closing will be Tuesday, March 8, for the first 17 of 29 lots that will be sold to City, Town and Country Development Resources. Clifford McClain, owner of the North Carolina development company, grew up in the Muskegon area and “has a fondness for Muskegon Heights,” Bell said.
The city manager predicts Muskegon Heights will undergo a “renaissance” as the lakeshore area grows in popularity, and said the city needs to be ready to embrace it.
“Our Achilles heel is not having the inventory of homes that people are looking for,” Bell said. “There are young people who have moved out of Muskegon Heights and into Muskegon because we have nothing to offer them here.”
In the meantime, the city needs growth in property taxes new housing will bring to support municipal services, Bell said.
“If we don’t build new homes, we don’t increase our tax base,” he said. “And if we don’t increase our tax base, we won’t have the money to fix our roads.”
There are about 1,000 vacant lots throughout the city, he said. Those that are publicly owned are a burden for the city to keep clean and mowed, he said.
The sales agreement with McClain calls for him to pay $100 per lot plus $270 for three years of property taxes on them, which will be placed in escrow, in addition to various sales-related fees. The total per lot is $590, Bell said.
McClain could not be reached for comment.
He is required to begin construction on the homes within two years and to complete all 29 homes within three years. McClain can seek an extension of up to three years, but he would have to pay property taxes for those years as well, Bell said.
Construction is expected to begin in April, he said.
The city will place a $10,000 lien on each home to ensure McClain follows a requirement that they not be turned into rental property for five years, Bell said. The liens will be lifted in five years if they are not rented out, he said.
Rentals comprise 55% of the city’s housing stock, a figure Bell wants to reduce to 39%.
Homes are expected to be priced between $180,000 and $250,000, Bell said.
The first 17 lots to be sold are on Fifth, Jarman, Manz, McIlwraith, Riordan, Wood, Dyson, Howden, and Jefferson streets, according to information supplied to MLive.
Several other developers are interested in building new infill housing, including one who is currently pursuing privately held vacant lots, Bell said.
To avoid gentrification blocking city residents from the homes and to help renters move into homeownership, Bell said the city and McClain are committed to help provide buyers access to down payment assistance, credit recovery and homeowner mentorship.
Loans of up to $10,000 to help with down payments are available to first-time home buyers in Muskegon Heights – and other areas of Muskegon County – through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Recipients must meet income guidelines, have a minimum credit score and attend housing education classes.
Muskegon Heights officials also have approached major employers in the city, including Webb Chemical, Quality Tool and Stamping and Rolar Products, to gauge their willingness to provide their employees closing cost assistance as incentive to get them to move into the city, Bell said.
It has been suggested the companies provide loans of up to $10,000 that are forgiven after five years provided the employee stays with the company, he said. The program would help companies with employee retention while helping the city attract new residents, he said.
Of the approximately 3,000 people working in the city, about 2,800 of them commute from other communities, Bell said.