June 3, 2021…A Grand Opening and Ribbon-cutting to celebrate the new $14 million Osborn Commons in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, was held by developer Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. yesterday. The mixed-income, mixed-use community is located at 215 Governor Osborn Boulevard in the city’s Moloney Alley redevelopment area, targeted in a statewide placemaking initiative by the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The City of Sault Ste. Marie provided critical support including a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).
“We would like to thank Woda Cooper Companies for furthering their investment in Sault Ste. Marie, MI,” said Sault Ste. Marie’s Mayor Don Gerrie. “The Osborn Commons complex is a significant and important addition to the Sault affordable housing inventory and brings an added retail convenience store to our downtown area. The site had been blighted for many decades and brings a new look to the area and will help as a catalyst we needed to jump start development in our downtown placemaking strategy.”
The 65 units at Osborn Commons include 63 units available for singles, seniors, and families that earn 30 to 80% of area median income, plus two additional units available at market rate. The apartments offer open-concept living spaces with large energy-efficient windows, high-quality finishes, and kitchens with ENERGY STAR appliances, including dishwashers. Each unit has a high efficiency HVAC system; and washer/dryer hookups. The property was certified LEED Gold by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) earlier this year, marking the highest USGBC green rating for a property in Sault Ste. Marie.
MSHDA provided affordable housing tax credits to support financing for the new development. “We are pleased to partner with Woda Cooper Companies to bring this new, innovative and sustainable construction project to fruition,” said Chad Benson, director of rental development for MSHDA. “Osborn Commons has the accessibility, amenities and affordability that will give the individuals and families who call this place home the foundation to reach their full potential.”
The community features indoor and outdoor common areas such as a fitness center, laundry, and two community rooms with kitchenettes, one with an outdoor patio overlooking the historic Soo Locks, plus a management office for the onsite manager. There are seven units with features for those with disabilities and the entire property is visitable. At street level, there is a grassy play area and 81 off-street parking spaces.
The Osborn Commons neighborhood is walkable to many downtown amenities including a farmer’s market restaurants, retail shops, War Memorial Hospital, a park, and the world-famous Soo Locks. Transportation is available to Osborn Commons residents who need assistance through the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Community Action Agency.
“Osborn Commons offers affordable downtown housing option for residents at a mix of incomes, plus many appealing lifestyle amenities including a fitness center and 4th floor terrace with fantastic views of the Soo Locks,” said Craig Patterson, Woda Cooper Companies’ Senior Vice President – Development. “High-quality housing, combined with the onsite market plus many downtown amenities and workplaces nearby, truly transforms the neighborhood into a vibrant LIVE/WORK/PLAY environment poised for further development. We appreciate Sault Ste. Marie’s leaders who supported the vision and development of Osborn Commons.”
The Market on Osborn is a 2,000-square foot retail store opened in December 2020 by local entrepreneurs Steve and Kathy Twardy. The store sells beverages, snacks, dairy products, fresh produce, packaged dry goods, and a large menu of breakfast and lunch food items. “We cater to people who live in and near Osborn Commons, those who work downtown and want a quick stop for breakfast and lunch, and to the half a million visitors who tour the Soo locks each year,” said Steve Twardy. In addition to the store’s main entrance off Governor Osborn Boulevard, a lobby window gives residents in Osborn Commons easy access for purchase without having to go outdoors.
Equity financing for the new property was provided by affordable housing investor CREA, LLC. “Congratulations to our friends and partners at Woda Cooper Companies on the successful completion of Osborn Commons, providing much-needed affordable housing to the U.P.” We routinely equate successful affordable housing transactions with access, impact, and opportunity to its residents; by that definition, Osborn Commons is a property everyone can be proud of,” said Charles Anderson, Co-President of CREA, LLC.
Lender Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust provided the first mortgage. “Supporting the development of new affordable housing options is critical in our mission as a lender supporting neighborhoods and communities. We are pleased to provide financial support to Woda Cooper Companies’ Osborn Commons in Sault. Ste. Marie.” — Michael J. Goerdt, Vice President, Specialty Finance Group, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust.
Merchants Capital, who contributed a construction loan, also commented about the new development: “Merchants Capital appreciates the opportunity to work again with Woda Cooper Companies to bring Osborn Commons to life. Of the 65 units, 63 will be rented to individuals at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI) with two additional rented at market rate. This was the first large-scale apartment property developed in this area in over 10 years which illustrates how vital and valuable the preservation and creation of safe, affordable places to live really is,” said Michael R. Dury, Merchants Capital President and CEO. “I want to send my congratulations to their entire development team on the success of this project.”
Project architect was Hooker DeJong, Inc. with sustainability consulting by Sol Consulting + Design. Woda Cooper Companies’ construction division was general contractor and the company’s management division oversees leasing and day-to-day operations. For more information about Osborn Commons, visit www.wodagroup.com or call 614-396-3200.
About Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.
Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. and its affiliates specialize in the development, design, construction, and management of high-quality affordable multi-family apartments, senior communities, and single-family homes. The company marked 30 years in business May 2, 2020, with operations in 16 states and a portfolio of approximately 375 communities and more than 15,000 units. Green building is standard with certifications including Passive House, Zero Energy Ready Homes, LEED, Enterprise Green, EarthCraft, and ENERGY STAR. In addition to its Columbus headquarters, Woda Cooper has offices in Savannah, GA; Indianapolis, IN; Shelbyville, KY; Annapolis, MD; Mackinaw City, MI; Charlotte, NC; and Norfolk, VA. Affordable Housing Finance magazine ranked Woda Cooper Companies 10th in nation among Developers and 18th among Owners in 2021.