Residential project will help sooth Frankfort’s growing pains

FRANKFORT – The president and CEO of the Honor State Bank has joined with a developer to pitch a housing development for people who live and work in the Frankfort area.

Honor State Bank's Art Jeannot and Joe Hollander of Hollander Development Corp., based out of Portage, are responding to a call by area employers, school officials and business groups who say the lack of affordable housing for working families is a chronic problem in northern Michigan-particularly in the Benzie area.

"Everything starts with housing," said Joe Hollander. "Communities benefit from quality housing that is close to schools, businesses, shops, parks, etc. From reducing emissions and traffic to encouraging young families to stay, work and raise children to contributing to the growth of a walk-able community, housing is the key."

According to U.S. Census figures and demographic projections, the area's population is projected to increase by 24.5 percent from 2000 to 2012.

MSHDA has given a qualified approval for the project, which could break ground as early as July.

Preferences for occupancy at Gateway Village will be given to families with school-aged children. But Holland is quick to point out that Gateway Village will not be subsidized housing.

"This is housing intended for people who work in the community and surrounding area. There will be income-qualified ranges from those earning minimum wage to $15-16 per hour."

Maximum rental rates range from $243 per month plus utilities for a one- bedroom apartment to $688 per month plus utilities for a three-bedroom.

The project is in the preliminary stage of development on a 2.71-acre parcel on Day Ave., locally referred to as the "Smokestack Site" which now includes several buildings that are presently used for the seasonal sale of antiques and memorabilia and for boat storage.

Gateway Village will be one of the first multi-family projects in the state developed under the "Green Communities Criteria," which incorporates environmental sensitivity in all aspects of the design, construction and operating phases of the development.

Each of the units will be furnished with modern, energy-efficient appliances, hypo-allergenic carpeting, high-efficiency gas forced air heating and central air conditioning, ceiling fans, a patio or balcony, walk-in closets and side-by-side washer and dryer. Exterior designs of the building will be consistent with a maritime theme, landscaped with native plant species.

The buildings on Day Avenue will be set close to the street to enhance the residential character of the area.

The developers are also taking into consideration the city's request to add a public park part. The developers envision a short boardwalk and viewing platform as a start toward the beginning of a wetland park, and have agreed to contribute $50,000 toward the effort. They will work with other groups interested in the park project, with ownership of the park conveyed to a nonprofit group or the City of Frankfort to continue maintaining it as a public park.

Republic Management Corporation will manage the property. It presently manages 36 apartment complexes in west and central Michigan, including Bay Hill in Traverse City, Northland Meadow in Cadillac and Rietz Park Village and Horizon Pointe in Manistee.

More than 50 percent of all renter households in the Frankfort area would be eligible for occupancy at Gateway Village. BN