By Jeremy Warnemuende
Mason News staff writer
The neighborhoods surrounding downtown Mason might soon have a new look to them.
At the Mason City Council Meeting on Sept. 20, the council requested that the Ingham County Housing Commission, or ICHC, apply for federal funding on behalf of the city to rehabilitate homes and apartments throughout the city. ICHC Executive Director Bruce Johnston spoke at the meeting and said he wants to continue to fix up a variety of Mason homes.
“We really went through the houses already worked on with a fine-tooth comb,” Johnston told the council. “We believe these are going to be first-class homes.”
Johnston said he and the ICHC will ask for $600,000 from the Michigan Housing Development Authority. The government money will be spent mostly on about 8 houses in Mason, but Johnston said some will be used to develop neighborhoods in Williamston — also a part of Ingham County.
Before the meeting, mayor Leon Clark wrote a letter to Johnston, applauding him and the ICHC for the work already done in Mason and asking Johnston to continue his efforts.
“We appreciate the due diligence and hard work that you that you and the ICHC have performed on behalf of the city of Mason,” Clark wrote in the letter.
Following Johnston’s presentation at the meeting, Clark and the council officially made the request to the ICHC. While the council voted unanimously to apply for the federal funding, some members expressed concerns about the project.
“It’s wonderful to have a density of living close to downtown,” Councilwoman Barb Tornholm said. “But there are a lot of homes already on the market. I do worry those homes will stay on the market if we add these refurbished homes to the market as well.”
Johnston responded to Tornholm’s worries by saying he and the ICHC would continue to focus on already existing homes, while demolishing and rebuilding other homes as well. And in the end, any negatives of redevelopment were outweighed by the positive of improving the quality of downtown Mason and its surrounding neighborhoods.
“It’s neat to see these houses transform,” Mayor Pro Tem Robin Naeyaert said. “To the people moving in, these are brand-new homes that will make Mason a more desirable place to live.”