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Three historic schools in Michigan transformed to affordable housing.


Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. recently opened three new #affordablehousing communities at restored historic schools in Michigan.  All three developments were supported with housing tax credits from Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and historic preservation tax credits from the National Park Service (NPS). Hooker DeJong, Inc. was architect with historic consultation by PCI Design Group, Inc. Woda Construction, Inc. was general contractor. Woda Management & Real Estate will operate all three properties.

“These three vintage schools were cherished historic assets in each community but they were outdated, in severe disrepair, and no longer useful,” says Craig Patterson, Woda Cooper Companies Inc’s Senior Vice President – Development, who led each development. “We saw potential in all three buildings, and through careful historic restoration, they have been redeveloped into much-needed affordable housing. We are very proud we could partner with each community, along with Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the National Park Service, as well as our investors and lenders, to create 97 new high-quality affordable rental homes which have amenities desired for modern living.”

At a May 14 ribbon cutting at Cavalier Greene in Corunna, MI, the city’s Mayor Charles Kerridge applauded Woda Cooper’s $7.9 million development to transform the historic 1908 school after it closed as a school a few years ago. “I figured the City would have to tear it down. But Woda came through and look at what they’ve done to the school and the new addition,” said Mayor Kerridge about the gorgeous new 40-unit apartment complex.

The new Cavalier Greene community features a 22,000 sq. ft addition onto the original school where wood floors, millwork, plaster, and many architectural features were restored. The total complex offers 40 one- and two-bedroom affordable apartments for seniors and workforce families/singles who earn 30 to 60% of area median income (AMI). CREA, LLC invested in the housing and historic tax credits and Citizens Bank provided construction and permanent loans. The City of Corunna contributed a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) and the Corunna Schools also supported the development.

“Our city is moving forward. We have some more housing possibly going in and we have a couple new businesses coming to the City and they started it all by renovating the school,” said Mayor Kerridge.

Cavalier Greene images:

Cavalier Greene is once again the pretty focal point of Corunna, MI.
Community room at Cavalier Greene.
Historic photos and art decorate the grand hall of Cavalier Greene.
Restored wood floors and gorgeous millwork and alcoves make for a grand central hall in the restored school.
Cavalier Greene in Corunna, MI.

Later on the same day in nearby Owosso, MI, Woda Cooper celebrated the opening of Lincoln House, a $5.9 million development that transformed a 1915 school combined with a new addition to create 28 affordable rental homes for seniors. With gorgeous one and two-bedroom apartments (many with interesting vintage touches and character),  a community room and indoor covered parking, this property offers a great new affordable, safe and gorgeous housing option for seniors with up to 60% AMI.

MSHDA supported the development of Lincoln House with housing tax credits and NPS contributed historic preservation tax credits. Investors and lenders include CREA, LLC, Bellwether Enterprise and RiverHills Bank. Woda Cooper also thanks the City of Owosso and Public Schools for the shared vision to make this happen.

Lincoln House is a 28-unit affordable senior community.
Lincoln House in Owosso, MI, is a combination of new construction (far) and historic restoration at a 1915 school.
Lincoln House.
Pretty community room at Lincoln House.
Terrazzo flooring was carefully restored at Lincoln House.
A large parking garage was added at Lincoln House.
A unit on the the new construction side of the complex.
A unit with vintage chalkboard and shelves in the historic section at Lincoln House.
Handicapped accessible bathroom at an ADA unit at Lincoln House where many age-in-place features have been designed into the senior community.

In Portland, MI,  the Portland School Apartments now offers 29 new one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in the fully restored 1919 Portland School. The new apartments are affordable for seniors and working singles/families with up to 60% area median income. The school sat empty for many years and the City of Portland faced a costly demolition but Woda Cooper Companies, Inc, saw potential for creating modern affordable housing, much needed after Portland’s 2015 tornado.

Contemporary finishes and many energy-saving features, including Energy Star appliances, are built into the lovely open-concept units. Lifestyle amenities include an elevator, a large community room, fitness center, outdoor BBQ space and gazebo, carport and off-street parking, and a new bus stop out in front. Three units are fully handicapped accessible. The nearby Brush Street Park features updated park equipment donated and installed by Woda Cooper.

Through meticulous restoration we have brought back to life Portland School’s grand Collegiate Gothic architectural features, including the brick and stone work, interior wood flooring, and millwork. The $7.42 million development was made possible through housing tax credits allocated by MSHDA and historic credits from the NPS. PNC purchased the tax credits and provided the construction, bridge, and permanent loans. The City of Portland contributed an 8% Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).

LISTEN to NPR station WKAR reporter Katie Cook’s story about the Portland School Apartments.

The building now adapted to Portland School Apartments has graced a pretty hilltop overlooking Portland, MI, since 1919. It was recently restored and adapted as affordable apartment homes for families and seniors.
New community spaces with stylish, modern furnishings.
Portland Mayor James Barnes (L) with Woda Cooper Companies Inc.’s Senior Vice President Craig Patterson (C) and City Manager S. Tutt Gorman (R).
Ribbon cutting at Portland School Apartments with community leaders; representatives from Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Hooker DeJong, Inc, PCI Design Group, and Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.
Large open living space in a unit at Portland School Apartments.
Energy Star appliances at Portland School Apartments.
Historically accurate windows plus restored millwork and terrazzo give Portland School Apartments lots of character and charm.
Portland School sat empty and decaying for five plus years before Woda Cooper Companies saw potential to restore it into 28 new affordable apartment homes.
Before restorations at Portland School Apartments.

Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. and its affiliates are experienced developers, general contractors, and property managers specializing in the design, construction, and management of affordable multi-family apartments, senior communities, and single-family homes. Considered leading experts in the affordable housing industry, the Woda Cooper team is known for producing and maintaining high quality affordable housing. Affordable Housing Finance ranked the firm 6th overall among Developers and 29nth overall among Owners in its April/May 2018 issue. Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. has developed and currently manages more than 300 communities and 12,000 units, operating in 15 states. In addition to its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio; officers are operated in Annapolis, Maryland; Savannah, Georgia; Shelbyville, Kentucky; Norfolk, Virginia; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Mackinaw City, Michigan.

For more information, call (614) 396-3200 or visit