Local Housing Gets a Big Boost
Pictured from left to right: Vicki Friar, River Country Chamber Board; Lisa Lightfoot, River Country Chamber Board; Emily Doerr, Michigan Land Bank Authority executive director; Susan Wenzlick, Fishbeck; John Bitely, Sable Homes president; Jon Schneider, Newaygo city manager; Bryan Kolk, Newaygo CountyBoard Chair; Julie Burrell, The Right Place and Newaygo County business development coordinator; Randy Poll, River Country Chamber Board; and Dale Richardson, River Country Chamber Board president.
River Hills growth continues; New houses to start at $260K
Newaygo, , October 18th - On this cool crisp mid-October Monday morning about 30 or so folks from a number of entities throughout the county gathered along the back section of the River Hills neighborhood in Newaygo to celebrate the fruition of a groundbreaking (in the most literal sense of the word) effort.
Sable Homes, in cooperation with project consultants Fishbeck, the City of Newaygo, Newaygo County, and the Michigan Land Bank Authority, kicked off phase two of the expanding neighborhood in Newaygo with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The celebration marked the official welcoming of a pilot program designed to increase Michigan’s housing stock and help alleviate the region’s housing crisis.
Nearly 4 years ago N3 reported on their phase one ribbon cutting during a cold December day. At that time Sable Homes had just begun the process of revitalizing the long dormant neighborhood. Today the streets are lined with houses nestled into the wooded surroundings and exuding the vibrancy found in similar mini-communities.
Speakers at today’s ribbon cutting featured those who have been working on the project for the past two years, including John Bitely, president of Sable Homes; Jon Schneider, Newaygo City manager; Emily Doerr of the State Land Bank Authority; and Susan Wenzlick of Fishbeck.
Though often competing with the productive sound of the work being done on the houses surrounding the event, the quartet of speakers delivered on helping to tell the story of this innovative project to those of us gathered for the event.
John Bitely: “When we took over this project in 2017, we had no idea what we were up against in terms of labor and material costs, creating an exorbitant price range for these homes – which was the opposite of what we wanted to do here in Newaygo. “We knew we had to come up with a creative way to make this a viable neighborhood without breaking the bank. And through our conversations with the state Home Builders Association, city and county officials in Newaygo, the Michigan Land Bank Authority, The Right Place and Fishbeck, a Grand Rapids environmental and engineering company, everyone came together to make it happen.”
Susan Wenzlick: “Once Newaygo County’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Newaygo City and Sable Homes had agreed to the project concept, we developed the Act 381 brownfield TIF plan, which authorizes the brownfield authority to offer TIF as an incentive to developers for projects that the authority determines are in the public good, like new housing to help meet local need. “This now allows Sable Homes to be reimbursed over 12 years for site preparation and infrastructure funding gap, plus interest and the cost of developing the brownfield plan.”
Emily Doerr: “This approach had never before been used for housing, but state and local government stakeholders were all on board.We held on to the property from fall 2020 to early 2021. During that time, the property taxes were reset to zero, slightly increasing the amount of tax revenues that could be used to repay Sable Homes for its eligible expenses. We will be reimbursed from tax revenues for participating in the project, and the county will keep some of the tax increment revenues for a county brownfield revolving fund after Sable Homes is reimbursed. It’s a win-win.”
Jon Schneider:“We have a great community here in the city of Newaygo with residents who enjoy living and working here. But for many of our residents, it’s hard to find new housing that’s affordable. We are grateful that John Bitely understood the housing need here and worked with state and local officials to find a way to bring affordable new homes to our area. We hope what we’ve done here will gain some notoriety and help close the housing gap in other areas of the state.”
New homes in River Hills Estate will start at $260,000
10/18/2021 09:38:01 pm
How many new homes are they planning?
10/19/2021 10:33:00 am
there will be 16 new homes total in this phase. Some are already spoken for, we don't expect these to last for sale to long. thank you
10/19/2021 10:56:37 am
Who do we contact if we are interested in purchasing a home?
10/19/2021 04:37:29 pm
Contact Sable Homes at 616-866-3913.
10/25/2021 09:15:49 am
I want to know how if this is supposed to he affordable housing, why are the property taxes are over $5000 a year for these sites? This is NOT told to potential home buyers as I have learned from my own experience as well as speaking to neighbors.
10/28/2021 08:28:43 am
Gentrification :( How is $260,000+ "affordable" ???
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