July 15, 2022 — Osborn Commons in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, not only provides safe, energy-efficient, and high-quality affordable homes for those who have struggled to find suitable housing, it has also helped transform an entire neighborhood. As a result, the property received international recognition for its noteworthy achievements.
Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. is pleased to announce Osborn Commons won Outstanding Affordable Project in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) 2022 LEED Homes Awards, announced July 12, 2022. It was among a field of 10 finalists representing six states and three countries. Earlier it was named a winner in the USGBC Detroit Region Leadership Council Awards and the Affordable Housing Finance Readers’ Choice awards.
The most recent award celebrates, “green residential projects, developers, and builders using LEED to improve the quality of life for residents, reduce a homes’ impact on the environment and create healthier and more resilient communities,” according to a USGBC media release linked at end of this document.
Osborn Commons is a mixed-income, mixed-use housing community located at 215 Governor Osborn Boulevard in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. It provides 63 affordable units available for singles, seniors, and families that earn 30 to 80% of area median income, plus two additional units available at market rate. In addition, The Market on Osborn is an onsite convenience store that ended a long neighborhood food desert.
The property was certified LEED Gold by USGBC in 2021, marking the highest LEED rating for a commercial property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Units at Osborn Commons are a range of sizes with one, two, or three-bedroom configurations. The apartments have 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.
Osborn Commons also features many 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, Saint Marys River, and the International Bridge leading to Ontario, Canada. There is a management office for the onsite community manager. There are seven units with features for those with disabilities and the entire property is barrier-free and visitable for those who use mobility devices. At street level, there is a grassy play area with picnic tables and grills and 81 off-street parking spaces.
“To receive a coveted national award like this is an incredible honor,” said Craig Patterson, Senior Vice President for Woda Cooper. “Sault Ste. Marie and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan have cold winters and high winds due to the Great Lakes and energy efficiency is paramount for Osborn Commons’ residents. The property also provides the convenience of an onsite market and is located in a highly walkable neighborhood.”
When Market on Osborn opened in late 2020 on the first floor of the new Osborn Commons, it eliminated the neighborhood’s longtime food desert that had been a concern to the community and inconvenience for downtown living. The market is a 2,000-sq. ft. locally owned and operated retail store that sells groceries, specialty foods, and other convenience items. Nearby are many other amenities including restaurants, retail shops, War Memorial Hospital, a park, and as mentioned, the world-famous Soo Locks. For Osborn Commons residents who need transportation assistance, services are available through the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Community Action Agency.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie supported the development from the beginning as a catalyst to help transform the downtown so people enjoyed living, working and relaxing there. MSHDA provided affordable housing tax credits to support financing for the new development. Equity financing for the new property was provided by affordable housing investor CREA, LLC. Lender Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust provided the first mortgage and Merchants Capital contributed a construction loan.
Architects were Hooker DeJong Architects, with Sol Design + Consulting providing sustainability consultation. General contractor was Woda Cooper affiliate Woda Construction, Inc. “We appreciate our partners’ commitment to design and build a building worthy to win this award, along with the support we received to develop it.” said Patterson.
For more information about the LEED Award, click: https://www.usgbc.org/articles/us-green-building-council-announces-recipients-2022-leed-homes-awards
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 400 communities and 16,000 units. Green building is standard with certifications including Passive House, Zero Energy Ready Homes, LEED, Enterprise Green, EarthCraft, and ENERGY STAR. Woda Cooper has offices in Savannah, GA; Indianapolis, IN; Shelbyville, KY; Queenstown, MD; Mackinaw City, MI; Columbus, OH; and Norfolk, VA. Affordable Housing Finance magazine ranked Woda Cooper Companies 10th in nation among Developers and 17th among Owners in 2022.