Filer Township, DDA seeks contractors for Project Hamlet

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FILER TWP. — Filer Township and its downtown development authority are seeking to attract a developer to build new housing in the community.

Authorities recently issued a Request for Qualifications – an important step in identifying a qualified developer – for a housing and retail project called Hamlet of Filer Township.

The contractor is required to develop a 24-acre, township-owned site located between Merkey and Red Apple roads on US 31 – in the center of the Filer DDA district.

“The ultimate goal is to create a hamlet, or small village of people, who can live, congregate, and perhaps work in the heart of Filer Township, while creating a focal point or town center for a township in full growth,” reads part of the application.

This map shows the site layout of 24 acres in Filer Township that are intended for development into new residential and commercial areas.

Photo Provided/Filer Downtown Development Authority

The document is available on filertownship.comand the deadline for proposals is August 1st.

Local officials envision the development “to resemble a hamlet with charm and character,” according to a press release from the Filer Township DDA.

A map shows the location of 24 acres belonging to the Charter Township of Filer and Filer DDA.  The authorities hope to turn this land into a town centre.

A map shows the location of 24 acres belonging to the Charter Township of Filer and Filer DDA. The authorities hope to turn this land into a town centre.

Photo Provided/Filer Downtown Development Authority

“Based on a retail market analysis and housing analysis, we know that the community and commercial area needs additional retail space and at least 905 additional housing units until ‘in 2025,” Tamara Buswinka, director of Filer DDA, said in the statement. “Filer residents seek to create a livable, walkable community focal point for the heart of the community, where civic, commercial and private places intersect in a way that creates experiences.”

Building on the objectives set out in the township master plan, as well as previous studies, the aim behind the hamlet is to develop “an inviting and viable mixed-use town center that reflects a traditional town center environment while incorporating housing options at a variety of price points. , as required.

The township council has completed a number of environmental assessments, an ALTA survey, several public comment sessions and a concept site plan that outlines its vision for the Hamlet of Filer.

The site's conceptual master plan, developed by Integrated Architecture, features spaces for housing, retail and recreation.

The site’s conceptual master plan, developed by Integrated Architecture, features spaces for housing, retail and recreation.

Photo Provided/Filer Downtown Development Authority

This concept plan – drawn up by Grand Rapids-based Integrated Architecture – indicates that the site can support approximately 167 residential units, more than 30,000 square feet of commercial space, recreation space and a road network to connect the hamlet at US 31.

“The concept plan is meant to help start a conversation with developers about what’s possible on the site,” states part of the RFQ.


The preferred development, according to the DDA release, would prioritize walking between residential, retail, recreation and community space areas.

The plan also establishes a series of neighborhoods connected by a common road, civic spaces and activity zones. An existing wetland in the lower part of the site is being considered as a “key amenity” for the development, according to the RFQ.

The properties are currently vacant, with 20 acres owned by the Filer Township Board and an additional 4 acres owned by the Filer DDA. The municipality acquired the land through donations and direct purchases.

A community amphitheater and green space are some of the amenities currently planned for a new development in Filer Township.

A community amphitheater and green space are some of the amenities currently planned for a new development in Filer Township.

Photo Provided/Filer Downtown Development Authority

Filer Township has seen a steady population increase over the past decade of approximately 16%. Additionally, the population increases by about 10% during the summer months. This growth, directly linked to the desirability of the community, has created a demand for housing and services. Additionally, most of the housing stock is single-family, leaving few options for the types of housing available.

A housing market analysis has been prepared for the Filer Township area, by Networks Northwest, which shows demand and support for the following:

• 905 additional homes by 2025.

• The area needs 582 rental units and 323 owner-occupied units.

• There are currently 1,400 workers traveling to the area for work, which represents an opportunity as many of these workers may want to live in the community.

An artist's conception by Integrated Architecture shows the entrance to a proposed residential neighborhood from Red Apple Road in Filer Township.

An artist’s conception by Integrated Architecture shows the entrance to a proposed residential neighborhood from Red Apple Road in Filer Township.

Photo Provided/Filer Downtown Development Authority

“We understand that housing is a significant need in our community and region, so we have proactively tried to increase our housing options. Our community is currently primarily made up of single-family homes, so we envision a developer building much-needed apartments (townhouses) and possibly a multi-story mixed-use development on the property,” said Terry Walker, property supervisor. Filer Township.

The RFQ lists a number of local partners in addition to the Township and the DDA who may be able to assist interested contractors in developing the Hamlet of Filer.

“Manistee County has a county land authority that a developer may want to partner with to create a brownfields plan and a project/property specific tax increment funding district to help defray costs associated with the development of the site,” reads part of the document. “The Manistee County Industrial Development Corporation is known to be a good partner in helping to ensure the realization of economic development initiatives.”

This site plan highlights the different neighborhoods in the proposed Hamlet of Filer Township project.

This site plan highlights the different neighborhoods in the proposed Hamlet of Filer Township project.

Photo Provided/Filer Downtown Development Authority

The intent of the property is to transfer ownership to a developer and Filer Township Council and the DDA agree that the sale price of the land is open to negotiation.

“Because we own the land, we believe we can be a good partner for a developer in starting a project. We are not interested in being owners, but we are interested in ensuring that the housing needs of our community are satisfied,” Walker said.

For more information on the project, visit filertownship.com.


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