‘Parking’s got to be part of the package’ for more apartmentsPublished 11:28pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
A Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) grant application for about $500,000 was approved by Dowagiac City Council April 26 after a public hearing.
The grant would be through the MSHDA Downtown Rental Rehabilitation (DRR) program for development of more downtown apartments above commercial spaces.
Marilyn Smith, the city’s housing consultant who is preparing the grant submittal, attended the hearing.
“The application is probably going to incorporate two buildings,” Smith said. “Four apartments in one and one renovation of another one. We do have the ability in the fall to add additional people, and there are newer business owners coming in who probably will want to take advantage of that.
“They added money to the grant we had awarded two years ago just in the past six months so we could finish off three apartments. We had a significant amount of money added to our grant because demand is pretty high. They’re affordable apartments for residents in Dowagiac. A lot of them are college students.”
“These are federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds allocated to MSHDA,” Smith added.
“This downtown apartment grant funding has been very successful in the past and there are additional downtown property owners who are interested in developing or renovating additional apartments,” City Manager Kevin Anderson said. “The DRR program provides funding for rehabilitation of downtown commercial and rental buildings to promote the viability of the downtown district.”
City Economic Development Director Cindy LaGrow noted the short window of opportunity for the funds.
Dowagiac was notified April 19 and had 10 days before the grant period closed Thursday, April 29.
In addition to Howard Hall questioning Smith, Ron Leatz commented, “A week or two ago the Police Department and business owners in this community had a meeting in this room. The big concern was parking. The problem with the apartments – especially with students – is they park in front of the door, go up to their apartment and leave their car there all day. The business people have no place for patrons to come to them.
“Parking’s got to be an issue with these apartments. I noticed also in the Dowagiac Daily News in the wintertime that the Police Department is ticketing those cars because of snow removal, so parking has got to be part of this package,” Leatz said.