The design for Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments. Courtesy | Joe Hall

Wallick Com­mu­nities, a full-service real estate, general con­tractor, and property man­agement company out of Ohio, will begin con­struction on Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments in the Fall of 2020 if it is granted funding by Michigan State Housing Devel­opment Authority. 

MSHDA sells tax-exempt notes and bonds and then loans the pro­ceeds to private devel­opers who use the money to build, own and operate low and mod­erate-income rental housing. Wallick Com­mu­nities has applied for MSHDA funding and will receive an answer from the state in January 2020.

According to Joe Hall, devel­opment manager for Wallick Com­mu­nities, the res­i­dence will be restricted to indi­viduals who are 55 years of age and older and who earn below the median income for the area, which is $34,000. 

Hall said Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments will be located on a five-acre wooded lot on Logan Street. The southern side of the property will connect res­i­dents to a walking trail. 

The apartment complex will have 60 units, the majority of which will be one-bedroom apart­ments. The building will also have a laundry facility, ele­vator, fitness room, activity and com­munity space, and a com­puter and business center. 

The Hillsdale City Council granted a Payment in Lieu of Taxes approval to Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments but rejected the same exemption to a pro­posed 40-unit, rent-con­trolled apartment complex on West Street. 

According to Coun­cilman Greg Stuchell, the decision was influ­enced by the general opinion of the com­munity, for many members of the West Street neigh­borhood voiced their oppo­sition to having an apartment complex next to Davis Middle School.

For the Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments, the council nar­rowly approved the tax exemption in a 5 – 4 vote. Stuchell said the lack of infor­mation about the project may have pre­vented com­munity members in oppo­sition from attending the meeting and voicing their opinions. Stuchell, who voted against the project, said he wants to make sure the council is pro­tecting Hillsdale’s best interests.

“My concern is what we really need as a com­munity is not more apartment com­plexes, but a focus on single-family homes. If more people own their own homes, it will nat­u­rally lift the eco­nomic health of the com­munity,” Stuchell said.

A 2017 Eco­nomic and Demo­graphic Outlook Report by the Institute of Labor, Employment, and the Economy at the Uni­versity of Michigan, pre­dicts that by 2045 almost 23% of Michigan’s pop­u­lation will be over the age of 65. 

Hillsdale Zoning Admin­is­trator Alan Beeker said the dis­pro­por­tion­ately large senior pop­u­lation is part of a phe­nomenon called “the missing middle.”

“Lots of the baby boomer gen­er­ation are middle income, but don’t want single family homes,” Beeker said. “They want to be in a walkable dis­tance of amenities. Hillsdale doesn’t have that, but the areas that do have it, that’s where people are moving to.”

Hall said Wallick Com­mu­nities seeks to aid Hillsdale seniors looking for res­i­dence that’s easily main­tained and allows them to still con­tribute to the greater Hillsdale com­munity. 

The project will create approx­i­mately 70 tem­porary con­struction jobs and two full-time posi­tions. Wallick Con­struction will serve as the general con­tractor and the Ohio-based company RDL Archi­tects will be building Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments.

If MSHDA approves funding for the project, con­struction will start in the fall of 2020, and the apartment should be open for tenants in the fall of 2021, according to Hall.

“In addition to expanding its presence in Michigan, Wallick views Hillsdale Senior Apart­ments as an oppor­tunity to join Hillsdale’s out­standing, stable com­munity and help fulfill its need for affordable senior housing,” Hall said.