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Four Emmet County housing developments to watch this year

Traverse City officials toured the affordable housing complex expected to be completed this year.
Taylor Wizner
Traverse City officials toured the affordable housing complex expected to be completed this year.

Finding a place to live in Northern Michigan can feel like an impossible task. But several developments in Emmet County are slated to add dozens of homes over the next few years.

The Little Traverse Bay Housing Partnership, an advocacy group, reported that zoning permits drastically declined following the 2008 economic downturn.

“Often we hear zoning is a barrier to housing,” said Tammy Doernenburg, director of Emmet County Planning and Zoning.

But that’s changing, Doernenburg said.

Most recently, the county approved the construction of Accessory Dwelling units. These are smaller houses built on a person’s property to increase the overall number of options available.

Emmet County Planning and Zoning expects these to surge this year with four permits approved already.

Additionally, four sizable developments could bring solutions - give or take a few years.

1. Littlefield Township - Habitat for Humanity

This project will bring 32 modular homes near Alanson over the next few years.

It’s part of Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity’s larger campaign called “Foundations for our Future," the goal of which is to build 43 modular homes in Emmet and Charlevoix counties by 2025.

So far, it's raised $3 million of the $5 million needed to fund the project.

The Alanson subdivision is years in the making, according to Habitat for Humanity Director Sarah Ulrich. She said a plan was in place to develop the property in the early 2000s but they fell short after the 2008 market crash.

“That was the last time a home had been built in that subdivision, the land just kind of sat for many, many years,” she said.

With the help of a donor, Habitat for Humanity purchased the land and is rolling out development in three phases. The first of which is nearly complete.

“We're just doing some finishing touches on that first round of homes,” Ulrich said. “We’ll hopefully be selling them as soon as next month.”

2. “Pine Pond” - Manthei Construction

When brothers Ben and Jim Manthei noticed their own workforce being slowly forced out of the region due to lack of housing options, they agreed something needed to be done.

“The area’s been very good to us and we want to somehow give back,” Ben said.

“Pine Pond” will eventually be 128 single-family homes in Bear Creek Township — the area just southeast of Petoskey.

It will be developed in two phases over the next eight years along with on-site storage units, an 8-acre lake, a community center, a beach for residents, walking paths, and green space, according to an update from LTBHP.

“As a transitional feature, the project will include 136 recreational vehicle (RV) sites for up to 8 years as the permanent homes are being built,” the newsletter states. “At least 10 percent of RV sites will be reserved for long-term rentals, intended for the local workforce.”

Ben and Jim said preliminary restoration has already broke ground but the project is still going through the final stages of approval.

They said construction could begin full-steam in the spring.

3. The Alexander - The Alexander LLC

Also located in Bear Creek township on the corner of Atkins and McDougal, “The Alexander” will be a 156-unit apartment complex that range from one to three bedrooms.

The project’s website says it broke ground in July and could be completed this summer.

According to LTBHP, the developer, which is under Borland Capital Partners, is working on final site plans and sewer study.

4. Lofts at Lumber Square - Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation

The Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation is working toward realizing 60 units on Emmet Street in Petoskey — in place of the former Hankey lumber yard.

According to the community foundation website, the property had already been identified by the City of Petoskey as a priority site for redevelopment.

But in July 2021 the developer, G. A. Haan Development, had its application for low-income housing tax credits denied. The community foundation stepped in to “ensure the development would move forward.”

“With funds raised through the Emmet Housing Solutions Fund at the Community Foundation, the property has been acquired for the project, with further planning and fundraising currently underway,” according to the LTBHP.

The development consisted of one to three-bedroom units affordable for households making up to $94,000 annually for a family of four.

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.