2021 ANNOUNCEMENT

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  • Multi-family housing development to provide attainable workforce housing in downtown Benton Harbor
  • Whirlpool Corporation’s $80 million investment in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph taking innovative approach to talent attraction in the region, retaining 400 jobs

LANSING, Mich.Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined officials from Whirlpool Corporation along with federal, state and local officials to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new multi-family housing development in downtown Benton Harbor. Through a partnership with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment LLC, Whirlpool Corporation plans to invest more than $20 million to construct the multi-family development in the city of Benton Harbor with the support of the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“We applaud Whirlpool Corporation’s continued investment in southwest Michigan as we work to jumpstart our economy,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This innovative approach to solving a critical workforce housing gap is a win for Whirlpool in attracting top talent, a win for the community, bringing increased density and revenue to small businesses in downtown Benton Harbor and a win for people who need and deserve quality, attainable housing in the place they live, work and play.”

Whirlpool Corporation announced plans for the multi-family housing development in June following Michigan Strategic Fund approval of a Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant in the amount of $750,000 for the project and relevant road improvements. 

“This project would not be possible without the collaboration of so many, including Mayor Muhammad and the City of Benton Harbor, the Benton Harbor Planning Commission, the MEDC and Cornerstone Alliance, and is a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together to achieve our shared goals,” said Whirlpool Corporation Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer. “By working with our communities on projects such as this one, we can all benefit, and are all collectively more successful as a result.”

The multi-family development will have 80 apartments and 120 parking spaces, which is anticipated to result in $22 million in total capital investment in the city of Benton Harbor. By coupling the investment in new housing units with the redevelopment and additional investment of $60 million in the company’s Global Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center across the Paw Paw River in St. Joseph, Whirlpool Corporation will be able to generate positive business impacts, including the ability to attract and retain needed talent while offering housing options. Through the combined projects, Whirlpool Corporation will also retain 400 full-time engineering, research and development, and administrative support positions, all of which average $140,000 in annual wages.

“This entire project began with a conversation I had with Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer when he first approached me to discuss his plans to create a Racial Equality Pledge to increase Black representation among the workforce and in leadership positions at Whirlpool Corporation,” said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad. “At that time, I asked him to consider making this investment into the city of Benton Harbor to grow our city and create a place that welcomes all people to live in our community, including underrepresented minority colleagues who will be joining Whirlpool. This waterfront facility can be the magnet to attract a diverse set of residents, proud to call Benton Harbor home.”

There has been strong local support for the project, and participants at the event walked across the pedestrian bridge joining the site in Benton Harbor to St. Joseph to symbolize the collaboration and unity between the communities around the combined Benton Harbor multi-family housing development and Whirlpool Technical Center projects. Cornerstone Alliance has coordinated the development and construction of the pedestrian bridge over the Paw Paw River to create better access to the Technical Center from between the two cities.

“This housing development is important for several reasons; not only for Benton Harbor and Whirlpool Corporation, but for Berrien County and the Southwest Michigan region as well,” said President and CEO of Cornerstone Alliance Rob Cleveland. “It’s about creating jobs, bringing more revenue into the community, and supporting a shared vision of providing better opportunities for everyone to live and work in this beautiful and vibrant part of the state.”

The cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are engaged with the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program. 

“We are proud to support innovative development models like the Benton Harbor multi-family housing development in our efforts to increase the availability of attainable workforce housing and create vibrant communities across the state,” said Michele Wildman, Senior Vice President of Community Development at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, who attended today’s event. “We appreciate the efforts of our local partners in Southwest Michigan, including Cornerstone Alliance, to support this project, and will work with Whirlpool over the coming months and years to continue to strengthen and grow its presence in the state.”

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.orgFor Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

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From vacant lot to community growth

OUR VISION

As a community, we have great pride in creating opportunities for our many vibrant and diverse neighborhoods to thrive. It’s our hope to continue to attract diverse, permanent, year-round residents to work at our local businesses. We also want to continue building an environment that will attract recent graduates or former residents and keep pulling them back to our City of Benton Harbor to make it their home once again. We are taking another step toward this goal by announcing a new housing development.
The vacant lot, located near both Whirlpool Corporation Riverview Campus and Tech Center, has sat empty for over 25 years. We want to bring it to life by welcoming more diverse residents and their economic activity to our community.

BENEFIT TO THE CITY

The 80-unit, multi-family housing development will be built on Riverview Drive. The $20 million project expects to break ground in late July 2021 and open by late fall 2022. The anticipated 110 residents living in the units will be plugged into our city’s infrastructure including city water.

In addition to encouraging diversity in our community, economy and local employment, we expect this development to generate up to $100,000 annually for the City of Benton Harbor Income Tax Fund from the anticipated 110 residents who will live there.

Input from Community Figures

As we continue to polish up our gem city to further its growth, we want to aid in that polishing process. I would love to see our downtown area continue to flourish as well as our neighborhoods within the inner city, and I look forward to supporting opportunities to bring all of this to life.

MARY ALICE ADAMS
Benton Harbor Commissioner at Large &
Co-Chair of Planning & Economic Development

It is with great joy that in the middle of uncertainty, we can continue to bring hope to our city with opportunities for housing, employment, business and income to be that city gem on Lake Michigan. It will be my pleasure working with those who will make this project come to realization to continue the growth of our great city.

JERRY EDWARDS
Benton Harbor City Commissioner 2nd Ward

This development will build on the natural beauty of Benton Harbor’s picturesque waterways and embrace the city’s history to bring a place that residents will want to call home.

RON SINGLETON
Benton Harbor City
Commissioner at Large

A vibrant city to call home is a beautiful thing. I look forward to welcoming this development to further strengthen opportunities for our community where everyone is able to enjoy and be a part of the City of Benton Harbor.

RUTHIE HARALSON
Benton Harbor City
Commissioner 4th Ward

I’m looking forward to seeing waterfront living along with the natural landscape beauty of the City of Benton Harbor. It’s a place that history has shaped, and it will soon be a place residents can say, ‘There’s no place like home.’

EDWARD ISOM
Benton Harbor City
Commissioner at Large

It’s exciting to see strong advocates for Benton Harbor come together to support this development. Together, we continue to believe in future possibilities for our community and welcoming more residents to enjoy all that our city has to offer.

DUANE SEATS
Benton Harbor Mayor Pro Tem & Co-Chair of Planning & Economic
Development Committee, City of Benton Harbor

This project is the beginning of a positive development through shared vision with community leaders and partners to foster successful revitalization that values culture and not just economic activity, and helps ensure lasting, positive impact.

SHARON HENDERSON
Benton Harbor City Commissioner & Co-Chair of Public Safety & Recreation Committee

Welcome to the neighborhood

We want to grow our city and continue to make it a place that welcomes all people and creates opportunities, especially for the potential new hires of employers in the area and graduates of our local high school who want to continue to call Benton Harbor their home. I look forward to working with the many talented individuals who share this vision and support this new housing development as part of that vision.

MARCUS MUHAMMAD
Benton Harbor City Mayor

MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING, 80 UNITS

ESTIMATED 110 RESIDENTS

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY SPACE

RESIDENT MEETING ROOM

WATERFRONT VIEWS

NEARBY TRAILS FOR
WALKING AND BIKING

Development location on Riverview Drive

Our dedication

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY FOR THE CITY OF BENTON HARBOR

The development is being built to attract residents from all walks of life to live here and contribute to the diversity of our city and its companies.

For instance, one of our largest area employers, Whirlpool Corporation, has committed to help, including underwriting the multi-family housing project. Their Racial Equality Pledge goal will increase diverse employment across all levels of the company as an effort to create and sustain positive impact for current and future minority employees. This goal doesn’t start and stop within Whirlpool; the company wants to see this diversity reflected in the community, too.

Much like the city, they want to see diversity considered in local, attractive housing in their community. Everyone believes we can create a ripple effect by welcoming more diverse people to our community and companies.

While our actions are focused within our “four walls” and our local communities, we believe our efforts will have a beneficial effect on society at large.

MARC BITZER
CEO, Whirlpool Corporation

Answering questions from the community

WHO OWNS THE LAND THAT WILL BE DEVELOPED?

Harbor Shores currently owns the property and will be determining the property’s future ownership structure to support the financing and development of the apartment complex.

IS THE CITY COVERING ANY OF THE COSTS OF THE PROJECT?

No, the City of Benton Harbor will not be covering any of the development costs. The project will incur $800,000 worth of road improvements on the current conditions of Riverview Drive, and Whirlpool Corporation will be covering that cost.

HOW WILL RENT COST BE DETERMINED?

Rental rates will be based upon the costs for the construction and reasonable rents needed to cover those costs, in line or below the average rates of similar such units available in the northern portion of Berrien County.

WILL THIS BE SECTION 8 HOUSING?

No, this will be a market-rent apartment complex furthering the important development of the City of Benton Harbor’s downtown and arts districts. Whirlpool Corporation will be funding this market-rent development, pulling in the right experts along the way. The City is considering other subsidized housing options in its plans for future development of the community.

WHAT IS BEING DONE TO PREVENT GENTRIFICATION?

Gentrification is change in a historically disinvested neighborhood through real estate investment and higher-income residents of different racial and economic backgrounds moving in. This parcel is located on a previously industrialized lot, which was also the site of a former auto dealership. Afterward, it sat vacant for over 25 years. The city is committed to preventing gentrification, but it isn’t a factor in this development as there are no neighborhoods in the immediate area.

GET INVOLVED WITH OUR VISION

If you’re interested in helping the City of Benton Harbor continue to create opportunities for our vibrant, diverse neighborhoods, stay tuned for announcements at Benton Harbor City Commission meetings.