LANSING, MI - As you walk around the City of Cadillac, you’ll sense you are in the midst of an evolution. There is a freshly painted building with the old-time train ledger on its side. The lake and park area pristine, the farmers market glowing with its wares, and in the center of all of it are the sights and sounds of bulldozers recreating a space into something new. A site, once a dilapidated grocery store with contaminated soil, is being transformed into a center point of attainable housing and retail space. Who chose to take on that daunting task of revitalization? A small army of people, and in the middle of them is the Lansing based Michigan Community Capital.
“They (People of Cadillac) should be excited that this can happen in a community of this size, a community that hasn't had a lot of community development activity in this long time. There is a lot of confidence that the demand is here.” Michigan Community Capital’s CEO Eric Hanna commented of Cadillac. “They should be taking what we're doing as a signal that it's possible to do more development here, possible to put more housing here, and possible to have a really vibrant downtown even in a smaller Michigan community.”
"I think the main thing that people should be excited about is that we are a manufacturing community, and our manufacturers are growing. As they continue to grow, we need to bring in young professionals and now we are going to have housing for them.” Cadillac Mayor Carla Filkins said of the effort. “The other thing that I think that is exciting, with our other work down on the commons and this project following that, developers are coming to this community and they want to be here which is really exciting. This project has led the way."
The new building in Cadillac is one of a host of civic reimagination across the state that Michigan Community Capital is helping drive. For all the talk of Michigan being reborn from its stagnation, here it is for everyone to see. A new centerpiece of modern, efficient housing for the working class, paired with new retail space for the ambitious entrepreneurs that Cadillac in particular has in abundance. This is what the new Michigan can look like, and it’s a place for everyone.
"This is a really big lift for the city of Cadillac and Michigan Community Capital, a wonderful demonstration of public and private partnership between all of the entities representative of this project. It's one that we've been working very closely with the City of Cadillac in assembling over the course of the last two plus years.” Dan Leonard, Michigan Economic Development Corporation Community Assistance Team, said of the project.
Leonard was one of a host of dignitaries in for the Cadillac Lofts ground breaking ceremonies last week. Others both from around town and around the state were gathered together to celebrate this major milestone. Dean DeKryger of Cadillac’s own DK Design Group was another. DK Design is the principal designer for the Cadillac Lofts. “This is unique in that it provides much needed housing for the City of Cadillac. There has been a continued need for quality market rate housing, particularly apartments; and there have been a number of developers who have been trying to solve that problem and create housing, but it physically has not been possible - the numbers simply don't work.” DeKryger “With Michigan Community Capital stepping in as a nonprofit and being able to work on a lower return margin - what a typical land developer wouldn't live on. That has been successful for them and it makes a project successful where it wouldn't have been otherwise.”
The renaissance in Cadillac also happened in other parts of the state under the guidance and support of Michigan Community Capital. With their site reimaginations in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City as well as Cadillac, the belief is that in the future Lansing may be able to follow that path of civic metamorphosis. Leonard said it best; “In finding the right site, the right development team, and the right style of project for downtown Cadillac, all in all this is a great example for northern Michigan and hopefully is one that sets a positive precedent moving forward."