Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 17, 2023 – A groundbreaking ceremony held today at Breton Grove on Grand Rapids’ southeast side marked the start of construction for the 90-unit, multi-phased affordable housing community. The event, hosted by developer Woda Cooper Companies, Inc., was led off by a special announcement about the launch of the Contractor Assistance Program (CAP) spearheaded by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
CAP is aimed at increasing the number of those who are newly trained and employed in the construction workforce and to help contractors and emerging developers to increase their capacity for larger contracts and projects.
“The Contractor Assistance Program is directly linked to Michigan’s first Statewide Housing Plan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s urgent call to expand and enhance Michigan’s housing stock by training the necessary workforce,” said Gary Heidel, MSHDA chief of staff. “We are thrilled that Woda Cooper Companies, a seasoned development partner, has stepped up to work with trained apprentices from the program on Breton Grove over the next two years. With HERCO’s help, the program will soon expand across the state.”
The City of Grand Rapids approved a Payment In Lieu of Taxes for both phases of Breton Grove. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said, “Our City continues to need housing at all price points, but especially affordable options for residents with low and moderate incomes and for those who are facing homelessness. The Breton Grove and Breton Grove II development will help us address and alleviate this need.
“Woda Cooper is stepping up as a community partner and will contribute a large portion of its annual PILOT payment toward the Grand Rapids Affordable Housing Fund,” said Mayor Bliss. “In addition, Breton Grove will feature energy-efficient, green features and is expected to be certified LEED Zero Energy development which will help keep the residents’ energy bills low.”
The 90 units at Breton Grove and Breton Grove II will be available for residents at 30% to 80% area median income, with 33 integrated Permanent Supported Housing units for residents facing homelessness. The two buildings will be configured with one-bedroom and two-bedroom units:
30 – 1BR units
25 – 2BR units
Breton Grove II
13 – 1BR units
22 – 2BR units
Apartments will offer large living spaces; kitchens with ENERGY STAR appliances, including dishwashers and microwaves; and washer/dryer hookups. Interiors feature attractive finishes, quality cabinetry, and luxury vinyl tile flooring. Each building will include a community room with kitchenette and onsite management and supportive service offices. Supportive services at the property will be coordinated by the lead agency Community Rebuilders, a Grand Rapids based nonprofit organization. There will also be several units adapted for those with mobility challenges and/or sight and hearing disabilities. Both phases are expected to be certified LEED Zero Energy.
Affordable housing financier Merchants Capital is the primary equity investor for both phases. “We are proud to partner once again with Woda Cooper Companies to provide more expansive support for individuals facing homelessness,” said Josh Reed, EVP LIHTC Acquisitions at Merchants Capital. “The Breton Grove project gives Merchants Capital an opportunity to deepen our partnerships and commitment to affordable housing solutions nationwide.”
A construction loan for phase one — Breton Grove — is provided by Independent Bank, who is also a secondary investor in the development through Merchants Capital. “Independent Bank is pleased to be able to partner with Woda Cooper Companies to provide this much needed addition of affordable housing to the Grand Rapids community,” said President and CEO Brad Kessel. “This development will have a long- lasting impact on the residents who call Breton Grove home.”
Merchants Capital affiliate Merchants Bank of Indiana is providing the construction loan for Breton Grove II. Permanent mortgages will be provided by CF Bank for Breton Grove and Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust for Breton Grove II.
Architecture and structural engineering for both phases are being performed by Hooker DeJong. Moore & Bruggink is civil engineer, with Holland Engineering providing structural engineering and Sol Design + Consulting providing sustainability consultation.
Woda Construction Inc. will perform general contractor and will work with local developer HERCO to place freshly trained apprentices from the newly formed statewide CAP to work at Breton Grove.
Construction is expected to be completed in late 2024. Woda Cooper’s management division, Woda Management & Real Estate, will oversee leasing and property management. For more information about leasing, visit wodagroup.com or call 616-930-5842.
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 communities, senior communities, and single-family homes. The company was founded in 1990 and now has operations in 17 states and a portfolio of more than 300 communities and 15,000 units. Green building is standard with certifications including Passive House, Zero Energy Ready Homes, LEED, Enterprise Green, EarthCraft, and ENERGY STAR. Woda Cooper Companies has offices in Savannah, GA; Indianapolis, IN; Shelbyville, KY; Queenstown, MD; Mackinaw City, MI; Columbus, OH; and Norfolk, VA. In the spring of 2023, Affordable Housing Finance magazine ranked Woda Cooper Companies 7th in nation among Developers and 21st among Owners.