Community Catalysts exists to provide quality affordable housing and support services that create communities for seniors, veterans and homeless individuals to thrive. By working with other financial institutions, developers and community partners, Community Catalysts funds and develops affordable housing renovations, new builds and other projects that provide individuals with access to affordable housing and support services that they need.
By partnering with organizations like Cinnaire (a Community Development Financial Institution based in Lansing), we can extend our reach and participate in projects across the state of Michigan. Direct investment in projects allows us to provide needed flexibility and quick turn-around timing to owners and developers. Contact us if you need flexibility in the structure of your deal and someone who will work with you to get your project off the ground quickly.
Metea Court is an existing senior community located in Buchanan, Michigan. Originally built in 2 phases in the early to mid 1970’s, it was in need of significant renovation and upgrade.
Prior to renovation
This 100-unit community underwent large-scale renovations and preserved the property’s affordability. Unit renovations included new electric hot water heaters, high efficiency interior lighting upgrades, new washers and dryers, and new water fixtures in all kitchens and bathrooms. A new community clubhouse and office were built.
Renovations of Metea Court began in January 2017 and were completed in late 2017.
St. Rita Apartments:
This project represents the historic renovation of the former St. Rita Apartments in Detroit, MI, into 26 permanent supportive housing units serving victims of domestic violence and formerly homeless individuals. All units will be one bedroom and will target low income households.
The property was originally constructed in 1916 as a 6-story luxury apartment building containing 24 units. By the early 1990's, the property had been converted to subsidized housing, which remained occupied until 2005. Shortly after the property closed its doors, the interior of the building sustained fire damage. The building was put on the demolition list by the City of Detroit. The property went through tax foreclosure, and was sold for $5300 in 2011.
This historic renovation began in July 2017, and was completed at the end of 2018.
Harrison Park Apartments:
Harrison Park Apartments will be located along Alpine Avenue in Grand Rapids, MI. This project will create 45 two and three bedroom affordable rental units serving families of lower income as well as formerly homeless families who are survivors of domestic violence.
The overall site design will include a mix of green space, community gathering space, and connections to the Harrison Park Elementary School. The developer plans to use places on this site and the adjacent school property to create a sculpture park.
Prior to development, this area of Grand Rapids was known as "skid row". Thanks to Dwelling Place, the developer of this project and many others in this corridor, this area is now known as the Heartside District. This project was completed in late 2019.
After nearly three years of planning, fundraising and bouncing around basements in the city, Pingree Detroit has settled into its manufacturing location on Woodward Avenue and is selling its first line of leather goods.
Founder and co-owner, Jarret Schlaff, took members of the Community Catalysts' Board of Directors and other potential investors on a tour of the facility in December 2017. After hearing about Pingree's vision to employ homeless veterans, teach them a trade, and help these vets to become employee/owners of the company by manufacturing and selling leather goods, the Community Catalysts' Board wanted to become part of the team moving this project forward.
A recent study by Washington D.C.-based Wallethub, which surveyed the country's largest 100 cities, ranked Detroit as the worst place for veterans to live. Pingree is working to change that. Pingree's first product, leather tote bags, was launched in April 2017. Since then, wallets, journals, key fobs, and drawstring backpacks have been added to the product line-up. All of these products are hand-crafted from upcycled leather reclaimed from the Detroit auto industry.
Pingree's most recent venture is into boot-making.
With Community Catalysts' assistance in the form of a loan for some much-needed equipment and working capital, Pingree launched their hand crafted boot line in fall 2018.
After sitting empty for more than a decade, a top-to-bottom $32 million renovation of this 1931 building in downtown Battle Creek began in 2017. A coalition, lead by developer Mark Harmsen and including the Battle Creek Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and others, took on this renovation as the beginning of the revitalization of downtown Battle Creek.
Heritage Tower is still Battle Creek's tallest building. When it was built, the tower's escalators were a leading city attraction, and it boasted some of the best art deco in the Midwest.
The project began with significant remediation work including removal of asbestos and major roof repairs. Developer Mark Harmsen, as MDH Development, LLC, plans to put about 90 apartments on the upper floors. The remaining 20 percent of the building will be commercial space available for stores, offices and non-profit usage.
There are virtually no apartments in downtown Battle Creek currently.
"We're sending a message that downtown Battle Creek is going to be redeveloped," Harmsen said. "This is the first project. It's the big project, and it's going to kick off redevelopment for the rest of downtown." Community Catalysts' funding is providing a bridge loan to the project until the construction loan for the full renovation is available.
The first apartments were completed in late 2019 with ground floor commercial and office tenants moving in throughout 2020.
Maker's Environment Fund:
With investments in multiple companies in Michigan, the Maker's Environment Fund is working to reduce the skilled trades labor gap in Michigan. All fund portfolio companies must meet the following 3 criteria:
Teach and employ a skilled trade
Foster innovation and creativity
Fill a current skilled trade labor pool gap in Michigan
All of the portfolio companies are based in Detroit and are working to train and find employment largely for low-income Detroit residents. Those companies include:
Detroit Training Center - DTC specializes in workforce development and construction, including blight removal, commercial driver's licenses, heavy equipment, and skilled construction programs offering job placement assistance. DTC is currently expanding their training program from Detroit to Flint.
Welding Concepts Training - WCT just purchased and outfitted a mobile welding training center. In addition to utilizing their mobile unit, WCT partners with other Detroit training organizations to teach welding to at-risk teens, job-shifting adults including veterans who come home to joblessness, and formerly-incarcerated individuals who find it impossible to secure a job.
Community Catalysts' investment in the Maker's Environment Fund will facilitate training of much-needed skilled trades laborers in Detroit and Flint who can contribute to the construction of affordable housing projects being built near them.
Dauner Haus II Senior Apartments:
Located in Fenton, MI, Dauner Haus II is one phase of a multi-phase affordable senior community. Serving seniors who are at 60% or below of the area median income, Dauner Haus needs funding for upgrades and repairs. Built in 1997, this phase has 31 one-bedroom units and 10 two-bedroom units, all contained in one building.
Project upgrades and repairs include: new flooring in apartments, new storm doors, repairs to the parking lot, new building entry doors and system, and new common area furniture, new laundry facilities, and a complete remodel of common kitchen and bathroom facilities.
Repairs and upgrades were performed in 2019 and early 2020.
Living and Learning Enrichment Center:
Living and Learning Enrichment Center is a non-profit organization started in 2015 by Rachelle Vartanian after her son was diagnosed with autism. In response to the lack of affordable and accessible support programs for her son, Rachelle started Living and Learning with a focus on inclusion and social skill development. As they have grown, Living and Learning has added life skills programs and jobs skills and professional development programs. These are particularly important, as 90% of autistic adults are unemployed.
Living and Learning initially operated from a storefront on Mary Alexander Court in Northville. After they outgrew that space they converted it into Mod Market, an inclusive artisan boutique and coffee shop selling art from Michigan artists, 40% of whom are individuals with special needs. The market hosts job-coaching and skill building programs and employs young adults with special needs.
In mid-2019, Living and Learning targeted the acquisition of a new property in Novi, the former Massey Estate, as the demand for their
services continued to increase. It has been our privilege to partner with Living and Learning to help them achieve their vision of serving, teaching and training more kids and young adults with special needs in this new location.
ISAIC, the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, is a non-profit organization located in Detroit. Their goal is to return industrial sewing to the United States at a live-able wage, while leveraging the latest in sewing technology. ISAIC launched their factory in donated space above Carhartt's flagship Detroit store in April, 2020. In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, they were able to pivot from their original plan and begin producing much needed personal protective equipment for local health care workers.
ISAIC wants to create a path toward upward mobility for their Detroit workforce. Their apprenticeship training program for industrial sewing is designed to allow apprentices to pursue careers in product development, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and quality control. ISAIC's proprietary training curriculum is already being launched in multiple states. Because of the fierce determination of their CEO, Jen Guarino, and the team she has assembled, as well as many donors, partners, and supporters, including Community Catalysts, ISAIC has been able to launch their training and
factory on time and on mission despite a global pandemic. ISAIC is committed to their mission of helping the people of Detroit by offering education, apprenticeships, and the opportunity for careers that pay sustainable wages. So are we.