By Kenedi Robinson
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter
ST. JOHNS — The city of St. Johns is currently in the application phase of plans to build a new senior housing apartment complex in their downtown area, but hope to begin contruction soon on the controversial project.
The new building is supposed to be stationed at the corner of East Hingham, and North Spring Street.
According to Dave Kudwa, Community Development Director, the developers for this project, PS Equities, are still putting together the details for the project and plan to submit it to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
MSHDA is an association that helps primarily with the financial aspect of housing projects and takes initiative to get involved in some of the communities other issues if needed.
“It’ll take some time to approve, but once they [MSHDA] have, we’re hoping to start building around mid-spring,” said Kudwa.
In addition to the new senior housing, the city plans on putting a new parking lot in right across the street from the new apartment building, but these plans aren’t yet set in stone.
According to Kudwa, they are still negotiating with the city’s library to see if they’ll give up the space needed to create this parking lot.
“We’re working with business owners to come up with concept plans for what they would collectively want to see with the new parking lot,” said Kudwa.
According to Paul Dionne, planner for the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, necessary transportation and mobility for seniors has become more of a trend lately.
MDOT recently worked with Dionne and Tri-County to develop a similar project there.
According to Dionne, this falls into accordance with Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2014 legislature on aging called Making Michigan a Great Place to Live and Age Well.
Garrett Seybert, the head developer on the project, says that he believes that this could be a successful project based on their success with ClareCastle, their recent senior housing project in Clare.
“It’s been successful and fully-occupied since day one,” said Seybert. “We’ve received overwhelming amounts of positive feedback from local business owners and the community as a whole.”
PS Equities primarily focuses on senior housing in smaller locations like St. Johns to reconnect the seniors with the community. The apartment will be for senior 55 years or older.
“It’s just a niche that we’ve fallen into,” said Seybert.
One of the main issues with this senior housing project was that the business owners in the area are positive that they’ll lose business.
The apartment is being built over a parking lot that Bruno’s Bar and Gilroy’s Got It Hardware stores primarily use for their customer parking.
“It’s going to screw me. I have 300 customers a day who need a place to park and the city is giving away all of the free parking,” said Ed Brandon, manager of Gilroy’s Got It Hardware store.
Not even the prospect of new parking makes this better. There are worried that those plans are not guaranteed, and that a lack of parking will cause tenants to use street parking and further strain the downtown parking supply.
“I ran a store in Hull for seven years and they did the same thing, which put us out of business,” said Brandon. “This is what you get when you deal when you deal with city hall.”