Dowagiac pursues housing agreement at former Lincoln School site

Published 12:53 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — A planned development project would bring new housing to the former Lincoln School site.

The Dowagiac City Council unanimously approved the acceptance of a Letter of Intent with Lamoreaux Construction, of Marcellus, during its Monday meeting at City Hall.  The letter of intent will allow for the review of zoning, financing, market assessment and for further negotiations with the city for the construction of six homes on the site. The homes will be 1,400 square feet, two-story homes with a front porch on each home.

Staff met with Lamoreaux Construction several weeks ago about the potential development of the former Lincoln School site and found its development ideas are consistent with the City Council’s vision for a residential development on that property. With the letter of intent approved, Lamoreaux Construction will review the zoning, financing and complete a residential market assessment for the development of the planned six on the site. Meanwhile, the city will work to draft a development agreement and will continue to negotiate the final terms of the agreement, including the development timeline.

According to Lamoreaux Construction owner Brian Lamoreaux, who was on hand for the meeting, the houses would cost an estimated $300,000 to $325,000 once completed. When council member Lauren Desilets asked Lamoreaux if he thought that price point fit the neighborhood, Lamoreaux said that the price range falls under what he called “middle housing,” something he believes the city needs more of to meet demand.

“Small housing is $250,000 and down, high-end housing starts at $450,000 and goes up,” he said. “There’s nothing in the middle. These would be for a young family, people with one or two people in the household, maybe a third child. It’s a very specific pocket that we would be marketing to.”

Lamoreaux expressed his desire to build all six homes simultaneously once the final terms of the agreement have been reached.

“If we did one at a time, it just doesn’t give the pizazz of what’s going on there,” he said. “But if we do six, then they’re gonna say, ‘wow, what’s going on there, ‘there’s something moving there.’ It’s really important to me from a marketing standpoint that we do all six at one time.”

The development project comes as the city continues to find ways to address blight, provide affordable housing and attract workforce talent to the community. Last year, the council reached an agreement with Rivers Edge Apartments, LLC to construct five eight-unit apartment buildings – a total of 40 units – on a four-acre site located on the 500 block of South Front Street.

“We really put a focus on creating a situation where people view building a home in the Dowagiac city limits as a viable investment because prior to that, they obviously hadn’t,” said Mayor Don Lyons. “So much of that depends on making certain that the right kind of housing is there and we have a lot of low-end housing, a little high-end housing but there’s that missing middle-end, so that’s what we’re hoping these guys will do for us.”