Two multi-million dollar housing developments planned for Benton Harbor

NOW: Two multi-million dollar housing developments planned for Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Two massive developments have been announced in Benton Harbor that will help achieve the overall vision of revitalizing the city’s downtown area.

Riverview Drive, across the street from Whirlpool’s Tech Center, will be the site of a $22 million investment the corporation is making to create an 80-unit apartment complex.

Just a few blocks over on Wall Street, a proposal has been made by developer LC Consulting to build a 55-unit complex as well that will also include a fitness center and grocery store.

Both would be filling lots that have sat vacant for years.

“We think those 100 or so people who will live in the one and two bedroom units total are going to walk downtown, walk to various places to work, they’re going to come together and know each other and we think that’s part of that bigger vision,” said Jeff Noel, Corporate Vice-President of Communications & Public Affairs for Whirlpool Corporation.

The vision which Whirlpool, county and city officials have been working on for over two decades in this area of Benton Harbor – a Brownfield redevelopment site – where abandoned, rundown buildings and plots of land have been transformed into technology and manufacturing centers, a hotel, and now, residential living.  

“I’m looking at a warehouse that was empty for years that we made significant investments in, right behind me there’s a pedestrian bridge that’ll be right in front of the development that you can cross over and go to the Harbor Shores development, along the way there’s restaurants, interesting places to go,” said Noel.

Whirlpool’s plans were approved by Benton Harbor’s Planning & Economic Development Commission Wednesday night.

That’s where councilmembers also heard the proposal from LC Consulting to turn an empty parking lot at Wall and Colfax streets into an apartment complex for low-income residents.  

“It’s for the disenfranchised and people who have not had these abilities, a lot of buildings have been torn down, a lot of houses have been foreclosed, but now we have the revitalization of Benton Harbor,” said Duane Seats, Mayor Pro Tem.

City officials say both projects will provide more options for people to live in the heart of Benton Harbor and no longer just be commuters.

“There’s not a lot of living opportunities downtown, close to the water and that’s one of the greatest jewels we have and it’s one of the many developments we have to improve the quality of living for the people we represent,” said Seats.

Whirlpool announced another redevelopment Thursday of their Laundry and Dishwashing Technology Center on Upton Drive in St. Joseph that will invest an additional $60 million into Berrien County.

Benton Harbor city commissioners will meet next week to give final approval to Whirlpool's housing development proposal. 

The corporation ultimately hopes it will attract more local talent and help achieve their equality commitment of increasing employment of black colleagues by 50 percent. 

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