Saline is enjoying a spurt in residential development that soon will add about another 120 condos and single-family homes within a mile of downtown. “This much development within close proximity to downtown is certainly unprecedented in the past several decades,” says Saline mayor Brian Marl.
Developers are capitalizing on a nationwide trend that has empty-nesters and millennials moving close to amenities such as restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, and shopping. Saline’s draws include strong schools, safe and charming neighborhoods, a thriving downtown, and a welcoming business and civic community.
“Walkability is certainly an item that many people find desirable,” says Mark Lewis, owner and partner of Lewis/Klein Properties, the Farmington Hills group that is developing Curtiss Park Bluffs, with seventeen condos at 218 Monroe Street, two blocks west of downtown. “It seems to be a very hot topic these days to be within walking distance of towns and cities.”
Once city permits are approved and the sale of the 4.6-acre parcel finalized, Klein expects site work to begin in September. He says prices for the units, with first-floor master suites and two-car garages, will be set soon.
Just across the street, at 207 Monroe, Ann Arbor architect Damian Farrell hopes soon to finalize a $200,000 purchase agreement for a city-owned 3.9-acre parcel. He plans on building twenty-four two-bedroom and six one-bedroom condos in three buildings with a contemporary design. A ten-foot-wide easement will give neighbors access to People’s Park, which abuts the new building site on the south.
“It’s a unique opportunity to do something that is an urban-type solution even in a small city like Saline,” Farrell says of the units, which will be priced in the high $300,000s for a two-bedroom and high $100,000s for a one-bedroom. If the site plan is approved by this fall, he says the project could get started late this year.
“It’s a different style of housing that until now really hasn’t been provided in Saline,” Farrell says. “There was a really pretty deep lack of condominium options in Saline.”
John Olsen, executive director of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, concurs. “It is a bit of a gap in our housing market that I think a lot of people will find appealing,” he says.
“All of the experts and all of the people who are more knowledgeable on this subject than I am continue to tell me that there is great demand and great interest from a very diverse group of people–�xADdifferent incomes, different ages, different �xADbackgrounds–to find housing in the Saline community,” Marl says.
For those interested in owning homes in the heart of downtown, Jim Haeussler of Peters Building in Saline says his new eleven-unit condo on Henry Street, called Risdon Heights, has “a lot of people talking.”
Under construction in the summer of 2016, the three- and four-bedroom units come with upgrades such as hardwood flooring, granite countertops, and wood cabinets and will be priced around $400,000.
“There’s a need for some more condos that have first-floor masters for people who want to stay in Saline but want nice amenities and do not want to maintain yards or single-family homes,” Haeussler says.
Twenty-seven “starter” single-family homes are planned for Cypress Ridge, a new ten-acre development adjacent to Mill Pond Park on the site of the former Houghton Elementary School at the corner of Bennett and Mills. Livonia Builders developer Danny Veri says that all but six have been sold, with prices in the $270,000s.
Under the development deal, the Saline School District, which owned the land, will reap $900,000 after all the homes are sold.
“Any place we go to, whatever community it is, we want good schools,” Veri says. “The city itself is great to work with. They’ve very developer friendly.”
On the east side of downtown, Marl says the city is continuing to work with the Ann Arbor-based Three Oaks Group on a proposed mixed-use development at 600 N. Maple, across the street from the Saline Public Library. He says the city, which owns the nearly ten-acre site, is negotiating a sale price. To be called Maple Oaks, the development would feature about thirty-four single-family homes and apartment and townhouse condos.
“It’s a real cutting-edge kind of development,” says Marl, and will include four to six apartments geared toward people with either physical, mental, or emotional issues.
“I have emphasized on numerous occasions the need for Saline to be an inclusive and welcoming place–a community that celebrates our diversity and the contributions that all of our citizens make–and so I think providing housing opportunities for that community is really significant,” Marl says.