Big Rapids housing project, Mechanic Street development bid won


BIG RAPIDS – The highly anticipated Mechanic Street development in Big Rapids is about to kick off.

The Big Rapids City Commission awarded a bid for roadway and utility improvements along Mechanic Street at its meeting this week.

“This is the first step in our East Side development project – the awarding of the tender for the Mechanic Street pavement and utilities,” said Mayor Fred Guenther.

Gifford told the board that the city had put out tenders for the project and had two bidders — Morningstar Enterprises and Crawford Contracting.

“If you recall, in our workshop sessions, we had estimates as high as $1.2 million for this job,” Gifford said. “Morningstar was the lowest bidder, at $800,000.

“It’s a very exciting step forward in trying to make new housing opportunities in the city a reality,” he continued. “We strongly support working with Scott Morningstar and his team, who are already doing a lot of great work for us and will continue to do so if this is the path the commission deems appropriate.”

Gifford added that he is working on the financial package for the project and will be available for the June 21 meeting, and Housing Commission Director Mark Sochocki is looking forward to starting construction as soon as possible once everything will be in progress.

Affordable housing has been a talking point among city officials ever since a 2020 housing study showed a need for far more housing options for families and young professionals.

In 2021, the Housing Commission, Planning Commission and City Commission began a series of joint meetings to discuss the possible development of properties along Mechanic Street owned by the Housing Commission, with the aim of to build houses that would meet this need.

Sochocki said at the time that they were waiting for an opportunity to develop the property, but the big delay was installing the necessary infrastructure.

The housing commission then bought an additional 25 acres, which were included in the development plans.

Working with the city to develop a plan for financing the necessary infrastructure, the city and the housing commission signed a joint agreement to proceed with the development of the property.

The infrastructure will include water and sewer lines as well as extensions of Louden Street, Mechanic Street and DeKraft Street and the addition of two parallel streets between DeKraft Avenue and Bjornson Street.

Phase I of the development will be the original part of Mechanic Street, which will begin this year. The additional property will be divided into a phase II and a phase III, which will come later.

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