GRAND RAPIDS — Dwelling Place is planning major renovation work on its longtime affordable housing units in downtown Grand Rapids as it continues to seek financing to convert a surface parking lot into more housing.
The nonprofit housing developer has 190 units at its Weston Apartments, located at 21 and 50 Weston St. SW in Grand Rapids’ Heartside neighborhood downtown. The in-demand units are fully leased but are also in need of repairs, Dwelling Place Executive Director Jeremy DeRoo told MiBiz. The minimum monthly leases for the apartments are $25 a month.
Dwelling Place plans to apply in October for Low Income Housing Tax Credits through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to fund the renovation project, DeRoo said.
Original plans included potentially expanding the building at 50 Weston St. SW — located at the corner of Ionia Avenue and Weston Street — to add 120 more affordable housing units on surface parking lots that Dwelling Place owns immediately south at 54 and 56 Ionia Ave. SW.
“We want to make sure we’re exploring every possibility of converting (those surface lots) into affordable housing,” DeRoo said.
However, cost estimates to expand the building with additional affordable housing units were too high. Those additional units are on hold for at least the first half of this year, DeRoo said.
“We have a shortage of affordable housing units in the city of Grand Rapids,” DeRoo said. “We have to make sure that as we address that and add to our inventory, that we’re also maintaining the units we have. This is very low income housing, and it is our largest gap in affordability. Finding the right balance of investing in existing housing inventory while adding to it is necessary to address our affordable housing needs in the city.”
Significant upgrades are needed to the mechanical systems in the two existing apartment buildings, which are located across the street from each other, DeRoo said. The two buildings are each six stories and were originally constructed around the early 1900s. The buildings were converted in 1982 to include apartments.