FLINT, MI – A new 36-unit "supportive housing complex" is planned by Communities First Inc. as a restoration of the former Swayze Apartments.
The apartments, 313 W. Court St., will convert the "highly visible, blighted corner of the Grand Traverse neighborhood adjacent to Flint's downtown and involve the restoration of the historically significant Swayze Building," according to a city resolution on Feb. 7, 2014.
"This development helps to solve many community needs," said Glenn Wilson, president and CEO of Communities First Inc. "There is a need for multifamily housing, environmentally friendly developments, repurposing of blighted structures and opportunities for people to receive personalized, supportive services."
Expected to cost $8 million, Communities First, a Flint nonprofit, will use money awarded from Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Federal Historic Preservation tax credits. Roughly $670,973 will come from the city of Flint's Community Block Development Grant program, according to Megan Hunter, Flint's chief planner.
Of the 36 units, 28 will be designated for permanent supportive housing for those with special needs, homeless individuals or those at risk for homelessness. The remaining eight facilities will be available for those in Flint and surrounding communities, according to Communities First.
The building, built in 1924, was created by William Ballenger, a founder of General Motors, and is being considered for addition to the National Register of Historic Places.
"There is a need in our community for what we do, and the master plan the city put together is consistent with what our organization does," Wilson said. "It's a win for the city, Communities First and for what the community wants."
Wilson said there is no etimeline for construction, but the project could begin this spring or summer.
Communities First is coming off of the rehabilitation of Oak School, which was built in 1898. It was developed into a 24-unit complex for low-income seniors.
"Communities First has done an excellent job with the housing development at Oak School and this is a great new build and restoration of a historic resource that has been vacant for years," Hunter said.
Hunter called the Swayze restoration the city's master plan in action and said the city will have funding available in the future as well for similar housing units.
"Any time you're able to bring an investment that hasn't normally been in the community, it's a great thing," Wilson said.
Other partners for the Swayze apartment project include One Stop Genesee, Genesee Health System/Genesee Community Health Center and the Disability Network.
MSNBC interviewed officials with Community First this week, focusing on the Oak Street development in a segment that will air on Monday, Jan. 19, on "Morning Joe." The show airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Wilson said the goal is to make those living at the Swayze building in the future a part of the community, similar to what the nonprofit has pushed for with its Oak Street Senior Apartments.
The $5 million Oak School project, 1000 Oak St., started more than a year ago, with aid from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Michigan State housing Development Authority and Michigan Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
It features 24 units and was full almost immediately after the building was completed in September.
MSNBC officials called the Oak Street project a "success story," earlier this week, saying their segment will focus on making investments in needy communities while maintaining the character of the community.