MUSKEGON HEIGHTS — Construction began today on what will be the first new home built in Muskegon Heights in 17 years — a literal and symbolic step in the city’s revitalization, according to local officials.
The city of Muskegon Heights’ downtown development authority along with Greater Muskegon Economic Development (GMED) over the summer approved a “Reaching New Heights” vision plan, which includes plans to revitalize the downtown. Key portions of the plan call for redeveloping the old Strand Theatre, Rowan Park, and also to construct more housing in and around the city’s downtown.
The Career Tech Center in Muskegon — in partnership with nonprofits Lake Hawks in Flight and AmeriCorps — poured the footings for the new home at 257 E. Hume St.
Janet Robinson, who purchased the property that was once owned by her great grandparents, donated the lot for the residence with the hope of bringing new life to the dilapidated site.
“My great-grandmother always invited neighbors and those walking by to come in and eat,” Robinson said in a statement. “She spent days there teaching women how to cook and clean when they traveled from the south during The Great Migration. The site holds true history which makes it the perfect place to inspire a new generation.”
Community members visited the groundbreaking ceremony to show their support for the project, which “has been a long time coming,” said Lake Hawks in Flight President Ronald Jenkins.
A recent housing analysis showed that Muskegon Heights needs to add 175 homes to the city each year for the next 10 years to keep up with demand. City officials are working to incentivize developers to come and build homes on roughly 1,000 vacant lots in the Heights.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows there are 4,534 housing units throughout the city, and most homes are worth less than $50,000.