Albion Interactive History / Businesses / Oak Meadows

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Government

Oak Meadows Public Housing, W. Erie Street, 1972
 
    

Middle income housing project opened summer of 1972. Project initiated andcarried out by a group of Albion ministers and professors. Their goal was tocreate middle income housing, especially for those families displaced by the WestCentral Urban Renewal project, and to help alleviate the housing shortage inAlbion. Several single family homes and medium density apartment buildings.

Work begun in early 1967 on plans for more and better housing for moderate and low income people of Albion took shape in late 1971 as “Oak Meadows” grew in a former open field on West Erie Street.

“Oak Meadows” is the result of years of work and planning by concerned members of several Albion churches who banded together for the construction of 26 single family homes and 74 apartment dwellings.

The first spadeful of earth was turned over by the Rev. M.H. Wheeler, president of the Albion Non-Profit Community Housing Corp., in a mid-September ground-breaking ceremony held on the site. Construction by Stylemaster Homes, Inc., of Fort Wayne, Ind., and St. Johns, Mich., becan immediately. By the end of 1971 all basements had been dug and framing was underway of both the homes and apartment buildings.

When complete in October 1972, there will be twelve one-bedroom, twenty-two two-bedroom, and 40 three-bedroom townhouse units. The single family homes are eight four-bedroom and eighteen three-bedroom structures built sectionally and conventially.

The site is 46 acres adjacent to the Kalamazoo river and the structures will occupy some 18 acres of land with the remainder being set aside for a recreational area. A community center and swimming pool are also to be built. The “Oak Meadows” development will therefore have a low density population.

Plans indicate that the development will be marketed as a “cooperative” project with those residents qualifying being able to purchase a share of ownership in the development. The residents will also elect their own board of directors to establish policy and procedures in Oak Meadows.

Low income families will benefit from interest subsidy under Section 246 of the National Housing Act so that the development’s owners may charge below-market interest rates to those qualifying families, thus lowering the the required monthly payment. The Federal Government pays the difference between one percent interest charged those families and the rate of interest currently charged on the open market.

Families with incomes of about $4,000 to $12,000 will be eligible to reside in Oak Meadows; monthly charges as a general rule will be 25 per cent of a family’s adjusted income.

Housing Resources Systems, Inc. of Kalamazoo is currently serving as marketing agents for Oak Meadows.

The Albion Community Non-Profit Housing Corp. took its first form in early 1967 when the following churches approved resolutions supporting the corporation’s concept: Mt. Calvary Baptist, MAcedonia Baptist, First Presbyterian and St. James Episcpal. Bethel Baptist, Leggett Chapel AME Zion and Lewise Chapel AME discussed the idea in March 1968 but did not remain long in the corporation. The First United Methodist Church joined the sponsoring organization in November 1971.

The corporation eventually hired the housing consulting firm of American Dwellings of Kalamazoo and Kellogg and Keifer, Architects, also of Kalamazoo.

The clergymen of both St. James’ and PResbyterian Churches left the community and the project languished for a time, held together mainly by the REv. M.H. Wheeler of Mt. Calvary. The project began in earnest in 1970 when a full board of directors was elected. The coproration worked with the Michigan Housing Authority and was grated a $2.2 million planning and construction grant in early 1971.

The Corporation had chosen a construction site just west of McIntosh Park in the west section of Albion. To its surprise, the corproation after receiving an option on the site, learned it had already been optioned to another group. (Lincolnshire, an 81-unit apartment complex is to open early in 1972 on that site). The corporation began anew its attempts to find a suitable location that could utilize city sewer and water services. The present site was purchased from Harold Behling.

The Corporation was steadfast in its determiniation not to allow construction until assurances were guaranteed that there would be no discrimination in hiring by contractors and subcontractors.

Mr. Wheeler, as noted, is president of the Albion Community Non-Profit Corp. Other officers include: Russell Aiuto, secretary-treasurer, of St. James Episcoal; the Rev. Reginald Davis, Macedonia Baptist Church; Bruce Borthwick, First Presbyterian Church; and Mrs. Isabel Helrigel, First United Methodist Church.

Source: Department of Urban Renewal. West Central Urban Renewal Project, Annual Report, 1971. 1971.

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