Coolidge School renovation project includes addition of 4-story Flint apartment complex

FLINT, Michigan—Years in the making, the former Coolidge Elementary school is being rehabbed into a neighborhood development with both apartments and commercial space — but that is just half of the project. 

A brand new four-story building also will be part of the $16.5 million project, a major development for the Ballenger Highway area where there are few multi-level buildings besides the neighborhood anchor institution, McLaren Hospital. The project also is expected to create 12 permanent jobs with an hourly wage of more than $21.

"We have been working on the project for a couple of years now so we are really happy that hard work and time is paying off. We are glad to get it done," said Glenn Wilson, president of Communities First, the nonprofit leading the development.

The school closed in 2011 and renovation of the historic, two-story brick building has dominated community buzz about the project — which in total will create 45 mixed-income affordable rental apartments, nine market rate rental units, and nearly 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

Only 24 of the apartments will be housed in the school. The remainder will be in the new four-story, mixed-use building that will be constructed on the school property, which includes about 5 acres of land on Van Buren Avenue. 

A groundbreaking ceremony is expected soon.

"I am happy to see a project of this size in the neighborhood. We see a lot of development in downtown Flint, but we want to touch every part of Flint and (make) improvements across the neighborhoods," Wilson said. 

The new building will house the commercial space — and developers expect an anchor commercial business to be located there, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which last month awarded a $1 million performance grant to the project as part of the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.   

The apartments will include one-, two- and three-bedrooms suites. In addition, the development includes office space and a dedicated community space for residents. 

The project is being completed by Communities First and Coolidge Park Limited Dividend Housing Association Limited Partnership, an entity created for the project. 

Communities First also helped to develop Oak Street Senior Apartments, another renovation of a closed school, as well as Swayze Apartments. Both are near downtown Flint. 

Other funding for the project, according to the MEDC, comes from: 
  • Alliant Capitol LTD, which is providing a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit investment of nearly $10.1 million and a historic tax credit equity investment of $1.3 million.
  • Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which awarded 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits.
  • ELGA Credit Union, which is providing $830,000 in financing for the first-floor commercial and market rate units.
  • City of Flint, which is providing $767,000 through federal funds.
The project qualifies for the Michigan Community Revitalization Program award because the development includes a historic facility. Usually such grants are limited to $750,000, but the state made an exception for the Flint project because of the depressed rental market and brownfield conditions in the city.