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    The Continued Move to Higher Density: Will the Condo Market Keep Growing in Traverse City?

    Ask a New Yorker what life is like in the city right now and most of them will tell you it’s relatively unrecognizable. Businesses are (mostly) open, but people aren’t eating in restaurants, subways aren’t running at full capacity, and many apartment buildings are relatively abandoned. Where is everyone going? Lots of places; including Traverse City.  

    New York City is designed around density. You move to (or stay in) New York not only because you like the opportunities that having so many people in one place affords, but also because you like being with all the people, quite literally stacked on top of each other, often hundreds of feet in the air. 

    COVID-19 has changed the priorities for a lot of people. Greenspace, access to nature and outdoor activities, a smaller town, and a larger home are more important than ever. 

    Condo Building Before and After COVID-19

    The condo-building movement in Traverse City was well underway before COVID-19 changed everything, but more because people were looking for vacation homes, short-term rentals, and a place to getaway. As a percentage, more condos were being sold to locals (or at least northern Michiganders) who were looking to simplify their life, reduce their home maintenance responsibilities, and be closer to downtown.

    But, with the rapid shift in our national mindset thanks to the global pandemic, more and more locals are staying put (or even sizing up), and more condos are getting snatched up by out-of-towners. Back in our article “Who’s Buying in Traverse City?”, most of the Brick & Corbett team reported having a larger percentage of their buyers from outside the area. 

    The question is, will it continue? Is there enough demand to fill all the current projects and the ones breaking ground soon? 

    Early indications are that the answer to these questions is yes. 

     

     

    Current Condo Projects of Note in Traverse City

    Local developers are reporting steady, if not increased demand, for their projects. For instance, Peninsula Place, a five-story, 42-unit condo building set to break ground on State Street in early 2021 has sold almost all the units before even putting a shovel in the ground. 

    Freshwater Flats, a project on Gillis Street in Traverse City, is also going strong, with continued reported interest, most units already spoken for, and all units ready for occupancy by this November. 

    The project on East Bay Street (where the former TBA Credit Union once stood) is also not slowing down. Eastwood Custom Homes, developer of the project, has said that the 4-story, 15-unit project is expected to be finished by the end of the year, though, not all of these units will be for sale. Reportedly, the three largest condos will be for sale with the remaining 12 staying as short-term vacation rentals. 

    The move to retain some units as short-term rentals is a bet that many developers are taking right now, and given the relatively strong tourism season our area has seen despite coronavirus making many of us think twice about vacations, this seems it will be a profitable move. 

     

     

    Not All Condo Projects are Moving Forward

    But, not all projects are going ahead. Solasta, the extreme-high-end condo development envisioned for the corner of Grandview Parkway and M-72, has been put on indefinite hold. It has been reported that developers are currently, “re-evaluating the market and construction costs”, but to many in the industry, it’s clear that the starting price point of these condos (1.5 million dollars) was just too much for our local market to support in a time of uncertainty. 

    A large mixed-use development planned for the Acme / Williamsburg area called KOTI is also on hold at the moment, but developers there have reportedly said they remain confident in the project’s vision and possibility, suggesting that when the time is right, they will continue to move forward. 

     

     

     

    A Path Forward: What Will Happen Next?

    Will these developments be the last to break ground in Traverse City, or is this just the beginning of a further move towards higher density? Only time will tell, but given the demand for a life in Northern Michigan, our guess is we haven’t seen the last of the tall cranes among the miniature skyline of Downtown Traverse City. 

    Many have complained that these sorts of developments are changing the very character of the area; that what is so precious and desirable about our city will be changed and perhaps lost forever by the very pursuit of it. While this is entirely possible, it’s important to also remember that it is, in part, because of this growth and interest that we can support some of the amazing things about living here. 

    For instance, our world-class food, wine, beer, and spirits scene wouldn’t exist if it was only local natives eating and drinking.

     

     

     

     

     

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    Brick & Corbett is Here to Help

    Is there a balance to be struck? Absolutely. Where exactly is that balance point? No one knows, but in the meantime, the Brick & Corbett Team will be here to help you buy, sell, and otherwise live your best life in beautiful Northern Michigan. Reach out today for help with any of your real estate needs. 

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