The Chaldean Community Foundation is planning a historic housing development.
By Ashourina Slewo
The Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF), the nonprofit arm of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, has been hyper focused on providing a plethora of resources to the community for the last several years.
The CCF boasts programs that provide social, educational and family development opportunities to its clients. Case work, advocacy, linkage, and client-centered planning for long-term success are keys to their work and client success.
Through their extensive work with the community, the foundation has noticed a prevalent need for long term housing.
“The CCF serves more than 31,000 individuals annually and realized there was a housing shortage for our New Americans,” explained CCF President, Martin Manna. “The CCF currently has more than 1,000 families in need of long-term housing.”
On par with the foundation’s work, this project is more than just an apartment complex – it is another means of aiding the community. “It will help alleviate the current housing shortage for our new Americans and provide subsidized housing for those that qualify,” said Manna.
According to an executive summary by the CCF regarding the housing development, “suburban poverty is on the rise in metro Detroit.” Crain’s Detroit Business has examined suburban poverty in October 2017 and then again in January 2018.
“While foundations are focusing their grants in Detroit, poverty is quietly growing in the suburbs…the needs and issues spurred by poverty don’t respect city or county limits.”
According to the summary, there are more than 600,000 families living under the poverty level in the metro Detroit area. Only 235,000 are living in Detroit, meaning “nearly 60 percent of poverty alleviation is needed in the suburbs.”
Affordable housing for families at or below the federal poverty line is a critical need in metro Detroit. Through this development, the CCF is seeking to alleviate this issue while also bringing economic stimulation and investment to the area.
Working with the City of Sterling Heights, the foundation has identified land along the VanDyke and 19 Mile Corridor where the historic housing development will be taking residence.
“…we are working on creating a cultural destination,” said Manna. “The area will be transformed and become “Chaldean Town” with retail, restaurants and art to complement the housing.”
The 135-unit mixed-income and mixed-use development in Sterling Heights will feature 63 one bedroom units and 72 two bedroom units in addition to surface parking for 185 vehicles in a courtyard. According to the foundation, approximately 60 of the units will be affordable at 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) and 75 of the units will be available at market rate.
The development will be complete with an outdoor recreation area and a 7-acre parkland, all of which will be located east of the surface lot.
“We are hoping to break ground this fall or at the latest, next Spring,” explained Manna. “We expect a twelve-month construction timeline.”
As the sponsor of this mixed-use development, the CCF has put together a project development team that will include Berardi Partners and Giffels-Webster, who will be coordinating all design and engineering on the project. MHT Housing of Beverly Hills will be handling property management, G Fisher Construction will serve as the general contractor, and Varnum Law will serve as the legal counsel.
Overall, the broad based project development team includes architects, engineers, grant makers, lenders, tax credit syndicators, officials, public entities, and supporters.
At $25 million, the foundation’s development comes with a hefty price tag.
Once completed, the development will be open for families and individuals alike. The family friendly project will “seek to create and build community and connectivity among and between residents.”
According to the executive summary, the space will include a Wi-Fi lounge, exercise areas, outdoor assembly areas and trails, a community kitchen and community room, and a leasing office and maintenance shop.
In addition to apartments and various amenities for residents, the development will include 9,000 square feet of retail space for lease. These spaces will be partially finished, or “white boxed”, ahead of tenant improvements or adjustments.
While providing a space for housing and retail, the hope is to also make this development a cultural destination.
Thus far, the response to this massive undertaking has been positive. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” explained Manna. “The City Council recently unanimously approved the development.”
In addition to approval from city officials, the project has piqued the interest of business owners who are itching to move in already.
According to the summary, “There has been interest from a food retailer, café and also health services providers. There may be 2 or 3 distinct retail units on the first floor depending on tenancy and their needs.”
Benefitting the community at large, more than $100 million in new investments and streetscape will be invested in this new corridor. “The nearby residents and businesses will benefit tremendously from the investment,” explained Manna.
Van Dyke Apartments Project Development Team
The Chaldean Community Foundation
Housing Project Manager
City of Sterling Heights
Luke Bonner, Economic Development
John Paul Rea, Director of Economic Development
Berardi Partners, Columbus, OH
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Engineering
Berardi Partners, Detroit, MI
Giffels-Webster, Birmingham, MI
Varnum Law, Novi, MI
MSHDA Direct Lending Program
Pinnacle Engineering, Troy, MI
PM Environmental, Berkley, MI
Wetlands/Natural Features – ASTI Environmental, Brighton, MI
G Fisher Construction, Farmington Hills, MI
MHT Housing, Beverly Hills, MI