Friday, March 31, marked the official opening of Swayze Court Apartments. The renovated building and newly constructed building on the site provide 36 affordable apartment units in the downtown Flint area. The $8.3 million project represents a major investment in the Grand Traverse District Neighborhood which helps to increase population density, stabilize the neighborhood and address a formerly blighted property.
An official ribbon cutting event was held for project partners and residents of Swayze Court Apartments and included speeches many who played a role in the development project. Speakers included: Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint; Brian Calley, Lt. Governor, State of Michigan; Earl Poleski, Executive Director, Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Jim Ananich, State Senator, Michigan; Steve Branch, Chief of Staff, City of Flint Mayor’s Office; John Peterson, Associate Director, Corporation for Supportive Housing; Elizabeth Jordan, Sr. Program Office Ruth Mott Foundation, Cheryl McHallam, Program Officer, Michigan LISC and Glenn Wilson, President/CEO of Communities First, Inc.
A Swayze resident, Jorain Hardman, was invited to share her story and talk about the change this housing option means for her. Formerly homeless and eight years sober, Jorain has struggled to find stable housing. She is greatly appreciative of the opportunities presented at Swayze Court Apartments and is involved in cooking classes, gardening workshops and looks forward to obtaining her GED. “This is more than a home, I have opportunities to better myself. Living here is life changing and I am so happy Communities First built this building,” said Hardman.
The Swayze building has a rich history and beautiful architecture. Originally built in 1924 by William S. Ballenger, Sr., the apartment building was home to many General Motors executives, Flint business people and families. For more than 15 years, the building was closed and had fallen into a state of disrepair. Communities First, Inc. worked to preserve this important historic resource and was successful in getting the Swayze building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Construction on the formerly blighted structure began in August of 2015 and was completed in December 2016.
“It is our belief that everyone desires safe, quality affordable housing regardless of their past. By investing in those that may have experienced hard times, we can grow the number of productive members of society. The events and activities we are providing at Swayze help our residents to dream again, to achieve goals and to help others along the way.” said Glenn Wilson, President/CEO of Communities First, Inc. Apartments are available for individuals who are homeless or have disabilities as well as individuals who do not meet that criteria and are lower income.
Swayze Court Apartments is a collaborative effort between Communities First, Inc., RAD Conversion Specialists, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, City of Flint, Genesee County Land Bank Authority, Chase Bank, National Equity Fund and Michigan LISC.
"It gives me great pride knowing that we were able to help preserve a building of great historical significance by returning it to its roots,” MSHDA Executive Director Earl Poleski said. “A project of this complexity would not have been possible without the help of federal funding sources, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, historic tax credits and HOME funds. Because of this public-private partnership, after decades of abandonment, Swayze Court is once again adding to the unique character of Flint and providing homes to people who are looking for stability, opportunity and second chances.”
Space was limited at the Grand Opening event because the event had to be moved inside. If community members are interested in tours, they can email Communities First, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot at an upcoming community tour.
Sponsors for the event included:
Communities First, Inc.
William E. Walter, Inc.