Muskegon to see second ‘urban smart home’

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The Phoenix will be built with the latest in energy-efficient technology to keep utility bills low. Courtesy Community enCompass via Facebook

Downtown Muskegon will see the start of another new housing development in 2020.

Community enCompass is installing its second modular “urban smart home” this year. Dubbed “The Phoenix,” the quadplex at 380 Houston Ave. in Muskegon’s Nelson Neighborhood will create four units of affordable rental housing for working wage families.

The Phoenix Quadplex Development follows the first modular urban smart home Community enCompass set in September 2019, now for sale with a number of interested buyers.

On Dec. 23, Community enCompass “dropped” the four boxes that make up the quadplex on the foundation via crane. The process only took a few hours.

The first commitment for funding for The Phoenix Quadplex came from Community enCompass itself, an organization with the mission of rehabbing and rebuilding homes in Muskegon's core neighborhoods. 

“Core-city neighborhoods situated adjacent to downtown Muskegon’s central business district make a perfect place to add structures that increase density and create neighborhoods full of diversity where we all want to live, work, play and be,” said Sarah Rinsema-Sybenga, Community enCompass executive director.

With the demolition of hundreds of blighted homes over the last few years, opportunities abound for Community enCompass to create new kinds of housing on vacant lots.

The name Phoenix refers to the Greek mythological bird that dies and is reborn from its own ashes. Ten years ago, an accidental kitchen fire at a Community enCompass apartment building in Nelson Neighborhood burned the building to the ground. There were no injuries, but the destruction of the 100-year-old building left a gaping hole in the landscape of the block.

Through intentional stewardship and the generosity of donors, the Community enCompass board of directors committed the first $100,000 to the construction of a new four-unit apartment building where the previous structure once stood.

The Phoenix is designed to match the size, scale and character of the surrounding houses and buildings in the neighborhood. Among the four apartment units, three units are two bedrooms, including full bathrooms and a total living space of approximately 800 square feet each; the fourth unit is a fully accessible one-bedroom apartment of the same size.

The Phoenix will be built with the latest in energy-efficient technology to keep utility bills low. Rents are set to be affordable for families who earn 30% to 80% of the area median income. The Phoenix will allow residents to begin saving money, helping them build stability and a financial cushion to build credit.

Other funding partners include the city of Muskegon (through HOME Funds) and the Federal Home Loan Bank with additional assistance provided through Chemical Bank and a couple of important individual donors.

All installation and finish work will be completed in two months. Applications for potential residents of the Phoenix Quadplex will be accepted in late January 2020.

InnovaLaB, the former Kent County Land Bank, started installing similar homes on vacant properties in Grand Rapids in 2018. The group is now serving as a consultant for Community enCompass' modular construction process.

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