News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Kilpatrick back to help Douglas plan

By Scott Sullivan
Ryan Kilpatrick, Douglas community and economic development director from 2009 to 2014, will consult with city again about meeting affordable housing goals.
City council Monday hired Kilpatrick’s Flywheel Community Development Services for $3,500 to conduct a housing workshop and plans to provide ongoing assistance towards that end.
Douglas planners have long seen lack of affordable housing options impacting mostly-younger, working families, making it harder for local businesses to fill jobs and K-12 public schools with in-district students.
The city is eyeing the former factory site at 200 Blue Star Hwy. someday housing as many as 92 attainable living units after site contamination cleanup, but that project is speculative and long-term. Plus and “affordable” and “attainable” aren’t the same.
Kilpatrick brings expertise to the table, having served since his time here as executive director for Housing Next, leading similar efforts in Grand Rapids, Ottawa and Kent counties.
He previously worked for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.. is a certified planner and economic development finance professional.
Kilpatrick’s new venture Flywheel describes its mission as helping communities with big ideas but not enough time or capacity to execute planning towards those ends.
Council’s Building Committee — Mayor Cathy North, Randy Walker and Neal Seabert — met with Housing Next and Flywheel representatives April 10 to discuss drawing on their professional expertise.
The proposed housing workshop, city manager Lisa Nocerini apprised council, “would serve as a platform for us to collectively explore strategies and solutions tailored to our city’s unique needs and challenges.
“Through interactive sessions and expert guidance from Flywheel,” she went on, “we can delve into topics such as zoning policies, incentivized development, public-private partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms — all aimed at expanding affordable housing opportunities within our community.
“Their support would be instrumental in conducting feasibility studies, drafting policy proposals, engaging stakeholders and accessing funding opportunities, thereby ensuring the successful execution of our housing goals,” Nocerini said.
Funding will come from the city’s professional services account.

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