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Fowlerville getting $3.7 million apartment and commercial development downtown

A local couple is preparing to break ground on a more than 13,500-square-foot commercial and apartment building in downtown Fowlerville.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board on Tuesday approved a $1.45 million loan through a Michigan Economic Development Corporation program, which will help them finance the estimated $3.7 million construction project.

Jennifer Cooke and her husband, Dan — owners of the fitness studio TRV|FIT — have been working to develop The Ville on the former site of a lumberyard at Grand River Avenue and Grand Street for a couple years.

The Cookes, who live in Dexter and hail from Pinckney, were looking to expand the gym, which has locations in the village, Pinckney and Dexter.

They said the idea grew into a larger plan to bring more attainable rental housing and modern commercial space to the village’s downtown.

Dan Cooke said the project wouldn’t have been financially feasible without the performance-based loan awarded to their development company, Cooke Capital LLC.

They were also able to secure $1,465,000 in bank financing and more than $800,000 in private equity.

The Cookes had been working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to secure “gap financing” for the project.

“Without that program something like this couldn’t move forward in a place like Fowlerville,” Dan said, adding that the cost of construction can be prohibitive in the village, where rental units command lower rates than in other communities.

The couple hopes to break ground this spring and have the building completed sometime next year.

Something new for village

The Ville will feature eight apartments, including seven two-bedroom units upstairs and an ADA- accessible one-bedroom unit on the ground floor. The project will total more than 6,600 square feet of residential space, according to a MEDC release.

Dan Cooke said he expects the apartments to be more affordable than other rentals across Livingston County.

The apartments are expected to rent for $844 to $1,378 a month, according to the MEDC.

“There is a huge demand for those,” Dan said. “I think we’ll have this thing rented out before it’s done. It will be nicer than the average apartment because it’s newer, but it will be more affordable.”

The Ville will also feature up to three commercial spaces on the first floor, including a new TRV|FIT location.

The gym will take up about 4,000 square feet, which will also feature more than 1,200 square feet of additional commercial space that could be leased to either one or two more businesses, according to MEDC release.

“We currently operate out of a smaller space in Fowlerville, and our community is growing,” she said. “We knew we had to move somewhere, but we didn’t have a lot of options in Fowlerville. Then Dan said, ‘Why don’t we build something?’ “

Jennifer said the new gym will be about twice the size of her current Fowlerville location. It will provide enough space for two workout rooms, boxing equipment, more individual training opportunities and a larger kid’s area.

She said she’s also going to move her Pinckney gym to a vacant storefront at 140 Main Street in Pinckney that she purchased.

Dan Cooke said the remaining commercial space at The Ville in Fowlerville could be filled by one or two other businesses looking for a lease.

“Gyms are anchor businesses,” he said. “Hopefully it will be something that complements the gym, but we’re not going to be that picky. Anything that fits well with the downtown area will be great.”

Funding a gap

To build the development, the Cookes needed gap financing, in part because they expect the completed building to appraise lower than the cost to build it.

“It will cost $3.7 million to build, but the appraised value when it’s built will be around $2 million, so that is why the MEDC has come in and supported these projects,” Dan said. “We want to support the community, but you couldn’t invest $3.7 million in a $2 million property. It wouldn’t be possible.”

Village officials also approved a 10-year Commercial Rehabilitation Act tax exemption valued at more than $450,000.

Michele Wildman, senior vice president of community development for MEDC, said The Ville is a fit for the loan program because it will increase attainable workforce housing in the village and promote walkability downtown.

“Attainable workforce housing is a critical piece of the puzzle when we try to grow business and retain talent,” she said. “The need for those units priced at a price point for that workforce is critical for us.”

She said attainable housing is not always sustainable for developers due to rental rates in a given area.

“That’s really the goal, to enable those critical investments that are in support of a local economical development strategy that wouldn’t otherwise happen,” she said. “It is providing soft, flexible capital that makes those lower rents feasible from a financial standpoint.”


Posted By: Livingston Daily on March 23, 2022.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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