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Cleanup to follow Michigan Maple Block demolition in Petoskey

One of the largest housing proposals in the region officially has a developer as of this month.

According to the nonprofit Housing North, Great Lakes Capital completed the sale of the Michigan Maple Block parcel in Petoskey and will be moving forward with "Maple Block Flats,” a 204-unit apartment complex.

The housing could replace the former Michigan Maple Block Company, best known for its butcher blocks and other wood products and founded nearly a century ago. The 12-acre Petoskey facility, located at 1420 Standish Ave., closed in the summer of 2020 after layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indiana-based Great Lakes Capital is a private equity developer that also built the West End Lofts in Traverse City.

Housing advocates have been eyeing the site for years due to its proximity to downtown, opportunities for unique tax incentives and acute need for housing in Emmet County.

But the apartments could still be a few years out from being built.

Housing North Program Director Andrea Jacobs said years of forming partnerships, securing funding and approving site plans with local government “has got the project to the starting line.”

Because the former factory is contaminated with metals and petroleum compounds from manufacturing, it will need thorough environmental cleanup and special foundations from the Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

The location's status as a contaminated site made it eligibile for funding from a new measure Michigan lawmakers approved last summer that provides more money if developers build apartments on former industrial sites.

Back in September, EGLE awarded the project a $1 million Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and $1 million Brownfield Redevelopment Loan to pay for the work.

Additionally, the project is pulling in grant money from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and a $1 million Blight Elimination Grant from the Emmet County Land Bank Authority.

“Instead of just sitting there contaminated, it can get cleaned up and repurposed and become part of the community again,” Jacobs said. But it does take that tax incentive and that partnership between the community, the local government and the development team.”

Maple Block Flats is slated to be seven three-story buildings with studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, totaling 204 units.

The use of grant money will require half of those units be limited to those making 120% of the area median income and 40 of those will be limited to 80% of the area median income. According to census data, Emmet County’s AMI was $69,690 in 2022.

Jacobs said demolition of the former factory may begin as early as April. Site remediation will begin after demolition is complete.

She said the apartments could be completed by the spring of 2026.

According to Housing North’s 2023 “Housing Needs Assessment,” Emmet County needs 865 more rental units in order to keep up with demand from a growing population.

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