2018-08-24 / News

Housing Committee Approves New Townhouse Concepts

By Marley Tucker


Artist view showing two six-unit buildings to be built in the first phase of a proposed affordable housing development near the airport. Inset at left shows a proposed second phase, although several other units could be built if adjacent property can be purchased. Other proposed drawings can be found on the Mackinac Island Town Crier Web site in the Documents section. All documents in this section have free access. (Drawings by ASL Architecture Design) Artist view showing two six-unit buildings to be built in the first phase of a proposed affordable housing development near the airport. Inset at left shows a proposed second phase, although several other units could be built if adjacent property can be purchased. Other proposed drawings can be found on the Mackinac Island Town Crier Web site in the Documents section. All documents in this section have free access. (Drawings by ASL Architecture Design) Preliminary concepts for a twophase development of 24 townhouses on city-owned land near the airport won approval from the Mackinac Island City Council’s Housing Committee following a presentation by architects and planners Monday, August 20.

That moves the city a step closer to its long-sought goal of creating additional affordable year-around housing. A month ago, the committee heard concerns from residents of the nearby Sunset Forest community and reaffirmed its desire to begin construction as early as this fall.

On August 20, committee members reviewed proposals and heard presentations from Mark McDaniel, president and chief executive of the Cinnaire community development firm, and Brad Williams, lead architect of ASL Architecture Design, regarding options for the proposed dwelling units, their design, and the site plan. The Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Community Action Agency and KMG Management of St. Ignace will manage the property and housing development.

Mr. McDaniel proposed that the land remain under city ownership in perpetuity. This would give the city control over leasing terms, requirements for occupancy, and long-term management of the development. The Housing Committee is spearheading a drive to create more affordable dwellings for people who want to become part of the year-around community, particularly employees of Island businesses and municipal workers.

Mr. Williams presented proposals for two six-unit buildings in phase one of the project and 12 more units in phase two. At the meeting a month ago, planners had discussed the possibility of con- structing two buildings containing 12 townhouses each, one now and another in the second phase.

The dwellings would be between Forest Drive and Green Shed Lane, arranged around a wooded common area. In addition to housing, there are proposed to be 10-foot by 16-foot outdoor storage sheds which would be allocated to families living there.

Housing Committee member Jack Dehring suggested sheds that size might be too small for residents who own more than one snowmobile, the chief modes of transportation in winter. Mr. Williams said he understands Islanders’ need for storage and that designs for the dwelling units could include added storage space.

At the previous Housing Committee meeting, some residents of the Sunset Forest community had raised concerns about the aesthetics of 12-unit buildings and about the need for storage. They said storage is crucial because Islanders find it difficult to get rid of unused or seldom-used possessions.

Cost efficiency remains a key factor in deliberations by the Housing Committee. With the project in its early phases and designs yet to be finalized, however, Mr. Williams and Mr. McDaniel were unable to provide rough estimates for construction costs. Mr. Mc- Daniel said the city could save money in the way foundations are constructed and by avoiding paved parking lots.

The style of the buildings will be harmonious with that of other Is- land buildings, Mr. McDaniel said, including horizontal vinyl siding and muted color palettes. The proposals call for one three-bedroom unit. None of the buildings would be handicap-accessible.

Island resident Steve Rilenge asked if the developers had taken soil samples where construction would occur. Mr. McDaniel said that would occur in the next phase of the process.

“We thought that it would also be appropriate that the housing association would name the project,” Mr. Williams added.

Mr. Williams and Mr. McDaniel also presented options for Department of Public Works (DPW) housing. One option is the purchase of an adjoining lot for a duplex for DPW employees. City Building Inspector Dennis Dombroski suggested that the city buy the lot and join it with its other housing development land to make one continuous lot. That, he said, would allow for design flexibility and control.

Housing Committee member Jason St. Onge suggested setting up a point system to determine who would be eligible to move into the new dwellings. Two committee members will meet with Mackinac Island Community Foundation and C-L-M Community Action Agency to discuss this idea further.

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