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Century-old butcher block factory to become housing in Northern Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan

A factory that produced wooden butcher blocks for over 100 years will be redeveloped into housing – creating hundreds of much-needed units in Northern Michigan.

Developer Great Lakes Capital plans to invest $49 million to turn the former Michigan Maple Block factory, located about a mile south of downtown Petoskey, into eight buildings with 204 housing units. Vacant since 2020, the manufacturing site will be demolished to clear the way for housing.


The Michigan Strategic Fund backed the project Tuesday, April 16 with a $2 million loan and a Brownfield tax incentive, used for contaminated properties, worth $3.6 million.

“The Maple Block Flats project will revitalize a critical corridor in our city, removing a vacant, blighted and contaminated industrial site along the beautiful Bear River,” Petoskey City Manager Shane Horn told the board.

Half the units at Maple Block Flats will be reserved for people earning lower incomes. Under a new state tax financing program, 102 units will be restricted to those earning below 120% of the area median income, or under $99,840 a year for a family or four. This agreement will last for 22 years.

Rents are expected to range from $975 for a studio to $1,850 for two-bedroom units, according to a project memo.

Maple Block Flats is one of several projects in Petoskey that’s redeveloping unused spaces into housing. A 60-unit building that’s offering capped rents for 50 years will be built at a former lumberyard. And two floors above downtown businesses that have been vacant since the 1930s will be turned into apartments.

These efforts are aiming to curb an affordable housing crisis in the region.

Northern Michigan often sees large population swings between seasons as tourists, part-time residents and workers flow into the area. This puts high demand on the housing with research showing it makes it unaffordable for those working in retail and food service.

In Emmet County, it’s estimated by 2027 there will be a shortage of 865 rental units and 2,505 for-sale units for those who are low- and middle-income, Housing North found last year. The county currently has 502 market-rate units with another 518 expected to be built in coming years.

“We look forward to providing additional housing opportunities in our city,” Horn said. “Being able to recruit and retain employees in our region is very critical being that we’re a service industry focused economic driver up here in northern Michigan.”

The city of Petoskey has backed Maple Block Flats with a 12-year tax break worth nearly $3.7 million. Additionally, the city and Emmet County approved a Brownfield reimbursement plan valued at $4.8 million.

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Martin Huttenlocker Headshot

Martin Huttenlocker

Development Manager

Leveraging 17 years of relationships and extensive background in the commercial real estate industry, Martin provides direct strategic and analytical support as part of the Great Lakes Capital development team. Since joining the firm in 2017 he has performed a hybrid role in asset management and brokerage services within the GLC portfolio. Martin earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Missouri/Columbia and an MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago.