Grosse Pointe City to consider permitting smaller housing units

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 10, 2020

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City has plenty of spacious single-family homes, but could smaller housing units be coming to the community in the near future?

City leaders say they hope so, and they’re planning on voting on this issue at their next regular meeting, which at press time was slated to take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 via Zoom.

As it stands now, housing units such as apartments or condominiums in areas that allow for multifamily housing must be at least 1,000 square feet. In the City’s Residential Terrace district, the minimum square footage is 1,800. During an Oct. 19 Grosse Pointe City Council meeting on Zoom, City Manager Pete Dame said they’re looking at changing that minimum to be “more in line with the standards of today” with regard to housing.

City Planner Julie Connochie, of McKenna Associates, said the average apartment in the United States is 945 square feet; the average apartment in Michigan is smaller, at 882 square feet.

“In general, the average size of U.S. apartments is shrinking,” Connochie said.

In a report to the City, McKenna cited recent data from Yardi Matrix and RENTCafé that showed the average American apartment has shrunk by 5% over the past decade. For studio apartments, the difference is even more dramatic, with an average size reduction of 10.3% in 10 years, to only 514 square feet in 2018.

Although a 1,000-square-foot minimum makes sense for two-bedroom and larger units, Connochie said, studio and one-bedroom apartments tend to be smaller.

Dame said the City’s master plan calls for multifamily or mixed-use residential development in areas such as the Village and on Mack Avenue.

“I think this could make a difference in terms of getting development that is much needed,” Grosse Pointe City Councilman Daniel Williams said.

Williams said that about two years ago, he sat in on some meetings with other City officials about two potential residential developments that never got off the ground because some of the proposed units were smaller than 1,000 square feet.

“I think we all agree that getting more investment into the Village is going to make a difference,” Williams said.

McKenna representatives said they’ll be studying the local housing market to determine an appropriate range of unit sizes for the City to consider. Minimum sizes would vary according to the character and lot size of each zoning district.

The council voted unanimously Oct. 19 in favor of considering a potential amendment to the zoning code to allow for smaller multifamily housing units. A public hearing on this matter is scheduled for Nov. 16.

City Councilman Christopher Walsh said the City has always been “receptive to any request that we’ve had” from developers.

“I think it is a good thing that we are looking at this going forward,” Walsh said.

For an agenda or more information about how to access the meeting, visit