Traverse City’s dilemma: Why this hot vacation mecca can’t attract young workers

TRAVERSE CITY — During the summer, Traverse City can feel like a crowded metropolis, with traffic jams and lines for restaurant seats and parking spaces downtown, just the sort of place said to attract younger workers critical to future growth.

The crowds, though, are largely tourists. The city itself has just 15,000 permanent residents. Grand Traverse County, as a whole, has not quite 90,000, roughly the same number who live in Canton Township, west of Detroit.

And although the local economy is thriving in many ways, the county is facing a looming attrition of baby boomers and stands a very real chance of losing the talent wars if it can’t figure out how to attract new, younger workers to live there full time.


Low-paying jobs and a lack of affordable housing are two of the culprits.

Too few rental units in the city center have created a serious housing crunch — especially among millennials, the generation loosely defined as born between the early 1980s and early 2000s — that is driving up rent prices, lengthening wait lists and contributing to a labor shortage that has employers worried.

“Housing is one of the big things underlying the skills gap or the talent shortage, particularly when you’re talking about younger workers,” said Sarah Lucas, regional planning department manager for Networks Northwest, a Traverse City-based firm that assists with workforce and business development across 10 counties.

“We hear often — almost daily — about businesses who can’t fill jobs because they can’t find people who have the skills to work them,” Lucas said.

“At the same time, we hear from young people who want to live up here, are able to find jobs up here, but … can’t take the job because they can’t find a place to live. Or, it’s too expensive, or they have to drive too far from the place they can afford.”

What young professionals need is workforce housing, said Allison Beers, owner of Traverse City-based meeting and event planning firm Events North and chairwoman of the Traverse City Young Professionals networking group.

“With a lot of the jobs paying $25,000 to $35,000, you can’t afford a $1,400-a-month apartment — or, if you are, you’re living with four people,” Beers said. “We have a lot of great, beautiful places in town, but they are high-end condos. And so for young people, they want to live where they can work and walk and bike and come downtown and have dinner and go run an errand.”


Beers said she hasn’t heard of people who passed up jobs because they can’t find housing. But she does know of people who move 15 minutes from downtown because that’s the closest they can afford to live, and of people who post to Facebook in search of roommates when leases expire.

“We need to get ahead of it before it is an issue,” she said.

Uphill climb

Addressing the talent shortage will be critical as Traverse City and surrounding communities in the northwestern Lower Peninsula deal with recession-era growing pains.

Traverse City has fewer workers than it did close to a decade ago, before the recession sent many of them packing in search of jobs, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). Many positions that remain aren’t paying enough to keep pace with inflation. Even some better-paying positions may go begging. Business leaders are concerned about an aging group of engineers and machine operators nearing retirement without a full pipeline of younger workers to replace them.

Traverse City, like many small and rural towns across the country, is facing an uphill climb because of young professionals’ preference to live in dense, metropolitan cities, said Lou Glazer, president of Ann Arbor-based think tank Michigan Future Inc., which studies talent retention amid the transition to an information economy.

Large technology and professional companies, with the exception of health care and education, typically don’t set up in small towns because they don’t have a large enough talent pool, Glazer said.
“Knowledge-based employers, even though they have to pay higher wages — and obviously, they’d rather not pay higher wages — are concentrating in bigger metros because that’s the only place they can find a concentration of workers,” he said.

“Raising wages or lowering housing costs are two ways to change the value proposition. But I don’t know that that’s enough.”

The region’s chamber of commerce is trying to address the attrition problem through new efforts to promote living and working in northern Michigan. But solving the affordable housing problem remains the top policy priority.

Attracting people to tourism and hospitality-related jobs can be harder, Glazer said, since those workers often have higher transportation costs because they live farther from work and don’t have access to public transit.

A minimum-wage worker would need to work close to two full-time jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment at market rates in Grand Traverse County, estimated at $825 per month, according to data from the Washington, D.C.-based National Low Income Housing Coalition. To afford that rent on a standard 40-hour week, a person would need to earn at least $15.87 per hour, or about $33,000 a year.

Yet that income would be out of reach for most of the region’s service workers, according to ACS data; median annual earnings for a retail worker were $18,287 in 2013, the most recent year available. Lodging and food service workers earned $13,682, and employees in entertainment or recreation jobs made $20,442.

An affordable rental in Traverse City is generally considered to cost about $650 per month, Lucas said. Data in the Networks Northwest report suggest people in Grand Traverse County making 30 percent of the 2015 area median income of $69,200 could afford to pay $519 in monthly rent.

Grand Traverse County residents who earn $11.25 per hour, estimated to be the mean hourly wage for workers who rent, could afford to pay $585 per month.

“Most people right now are trying to figure out how to handle the affordable housing issue,” said Laura Galbraith, executive director of Traverse City-based Venture North Funding & Development, the region’s economic development agency. “The talent attraction piece is still kind of segmented by industry.

“We will have to be more innovative.”

The housing problem

Both Traverse City and greater Grand Traverse County are made up mostly of owner-occupied homes.
Traverse City has more than 2,500 rental units within city limits, or about 39 percent of the city’s total occupied housing stock, according to 2013 data from the American Community Survey. The data doesn’t break down to show how many of those are downtown, or how many might be seasonal.

More than half of renters in the city — 58 percent — pay $750 per month or more to lease an apartment or house. The median monthly rent is $808.

In Grand Traverse County, which has about 8,500 rental units, rentals make up just a quarter of all occupied housing. Renters countywide also pay more than in the city — nearly 65 percent pay at least $750 per month, and median monthly rent is $847, ACS data show.

Affordable housing advocates say the shortage of rentals is not isolated to Traverse City. Housing costs have a disproportionate impact on people who work in Traverse City but live farther out — particularly those with lower incomes — because of the added transportation and energy costs.

Many people in rural areas choose to live there because rent can be cheaper, but they often have no reliable public transit and rely on propane heat. Networks Northwest said propane can cost three times as much as natural gas in some rural counties, including Kalkaska and Antrim.

In its study, the agency found the problem has been exacerbated by both demographic shifts and policy choices.

Most new home construction in the region has emphasized single-family homes on large rural lots, its authors wrote. But the demand for rentals is rising faster than units are being built — from seniors trying to downsize, families with lingering economic constraints keeping them from buying a home and young professionals who are delaying marriage and kids.

“At its simplest, the phrase ‘affordable housing’ simply refers to housing that costs 30 percent or less of a household’s income,” wrote the authors of Networks Northwest’s study.

That figure can increase to 45 percent for housing and transit combined, Lucas said. In some places in the northwestern Lower Peninsula, she added, some people pay 60 percent or more of their income on those two expenses.

“We try to focus on the need to locate new housing development near employment, near schools, near shopping, so people have the option to walk or bike to work,” Lucas said, adding that it’s a long-term solution.

“We’re seeing what happens when you don’t do that.”

Growing healthcare sector

The rental crunch is making it more challenging for employers to land new hires.

An exception to the rule might be health care. It was the fastest-growing employment sector in Traverse City over much of the past decade, according to ACS data.

Galbraith, with Traverse City’s economic development agency, said health care has consistently been a growing industry that may have had an easier time recruiting doctors or nurses with attractive pay — unlike, say, construction or manufacturing, which are just beginning to pick up after the recession.
Overall, though, the region is struggling to attract and keep a talented workforce.

The Traverse City area’s jobless rate, while lower than the state’s, has been dropping steadily for several years. But so has the size of its labor force — from a peak of 78,812 in 2006 to 74,833 in 2014, the most recent year available in state records.

That would indicate potential employees are leaving the area or dropping out of the workforce altogether, which happens when the unemployed stop looking for work. The labor force has ticked upward slightly since 2012, but it remains below the pre-recession peak.

The region’s economy is still heavily tourism-based, much of it during the summer. In fact, a third of the city’s total employment pool in 2013 consisted of workers in three industries — retail; lodging and food services; and arts, recreation and entertainment, according to the ACS.

At least seven of the 10 most-wanted job postings by occupation in the region for July were in retail or other service fields, encompassing retail clerks and supervisors, housekeepers, cooks, food service supervisors, customer service representatives and waiters, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

In total, 69 percent of the postings required less than a college degree. Truck drivers and registered nurses were the two most in-demand positions.

Restaurants and other service employers are having a hard time finding housing for their workers, particularly those who need short-term seasonal housing, but the issue also is affecting professional and management employees, Lucas said.

Glazer, of Michigan Future, said places like Traverse City are challenged to maximize their tourism economies while building other sectors, such as agriculture, healthcare, education and some small-scale manufacturing.

It will be tough for the city — and smaller towns like it — to attract major companies to set up corporate headquarters or offices in fields like finance, telecommunications and software development because of their limited talent pool, he said.

“None of that’s going to small towns,” Glazer said. “To some degree, they’re stuck.”

Yet, he added: “For northern Michigan, they’re in better shape than anywhere else because they are more attractive.”

Movement on pay

A wage survey hasn’t been done in several years, Galbraith said, but anecdotally she has heard that some employers are beginning to pay more in an effort to compete for talent.

She said some employers are offering pay above Michigan’s $8.15 base wage, to the tune of $9 to $12 per hour.


Still, that’s not the $15.87 hourly rate Networks Northwest identified as necessary just to afford a market-rate apartment.

So what to do?

Lucas, of Networks Northwest, said local governments can help by amending zoning rules to incentivize smaller homes or affordable units, such as offering payments in lieu of taxes to private developers.
Traverse City has an ordinance on the books that allows developers to build one additional market-rate unit for each affordable unit they include in a multifamily building, she said, but it’s voluntary and hasn’t yet been used.

Other possible policy changes: Launching partnerships between developers and nonprofit housing agencies to integrate more units into planned projects; creating a public housing trust fund with a dedicated revenue source that can subsidize affordable housing development; and encouraging construction of new upscale rentals, rather than condos, to free up cheaper apartments for lower-income tenants.

“I think we all know what the problems are. We’re just trying to get our hands around how to fix it,” said Rob Bacigalupi, executive director of the city’s Downtown Development Authority. “One agency can’t solve them all, but hopefully together we can.”

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Mon, 09/14/2015 - 7:20am
Cape Cod, Mass. has a similiar problem with housing being too expensive for the low wage service sector workers.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 7:31am
Most places that attract people... especially for recreation... have this problem. The ski towns in Colorado have been dealing with this for years.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 8:21am
If you pay poverty wages you should not complain about a labor shortage. If you pay them they will come.
Jim Petoskey
Wed, 12/30/2015 - 10:26pm
Mimi Heberlein
Tue, 04/04/2017 - 8:31am

No. They won't come. We pay $10 per hour for our retail coffee & gelato shop workers. There is no affordable place to live within 45 minutes of Northport. Traverse City is our next closest "big city". The businesses up here are desperate for workers and we pay well. Hourly work is hourly work no matter where it happens but if an hourly worker has to spend almost two hours per day making their way to and from your workplace they will find something closer to their home even if it pays less. I take it you are not a business owner so your thoughts on work/wages/affordable housing are informed only from the worker side...

Dave H
Wed, 04/05/2017 - 5:43pm

Oh great another business owner acting like $10 an hour is adequate. Don't you guys charge six or seven dollars for one cup of coffee with some creamy stuff in it that reality costs about $0.50 to make? The minimum wage should be 15 bucks an hour or if it kept up with inflation and anyway to less than that is a joke so don't whine when people won't come to work for you. It's just reality.

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 10:21am

$10/hr is a poverty wage.

Mon, 09/14/2015 - 8:37am
In Grand Rapids it seems every old factory is being converted to trendy apts. Also lots of speculators building new. The news always mentions " market rate" rents for all these students, down sizing seniors, talented tech savvy millennial. Personally, I think there may be a housing bubble coming. Student debt, wages that don't match cost of living, trying to save a bit for future. Somethings gotta give.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:03am
Same thing in Lansing, they are even putting new apts. overlooking the outfield at the minor league baseball stadium along with new apts. down by the Grand River and a couple of large projects planned on the east city of the city. There are all high priced projects aimed at millenials. I would not be surprised to see a bubble burst at some point.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:43am
I would suggest that subsidized housing is artificially raising monthly rental costs. Let the market set the price of rentals, not the state of Michigan and I'll bet you see the price of rent drop.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:34pm
This only makes sense if you're not artificially inflating the cost of development by imposing draconian zoning laws and giving NIMBY's the power to arbitrary block any development. The Pine street building is a perfect example, the market would have supported building 100's of units of new housing units, but it was effectively blocked because of a few people that think a 9-story building is going to blot out the sun for all of downtown or something. I tend to agree that you should let the market set the prices for housing, but that only works if you actually *let* the market build new housing when it's in demand. You can't just block new development and expect to have affordable housing.
Diane Budzynowski
Mon, 10/12/2015 - 6:05am
Your numbers are wrong on the Pine Street development- only 71 units are going to be "affordable" and the rest are going to be luxury condos and office and retail space. I agree there is a problem in town with affordable housing but what is happening on the banks of the Boardman is appalling. More granny flats being allowed would solve the problem in a more appealing way.
Alex Shields
Thu, 10/15/2015 - 11:52pm
I own downtown TC and Grannyflats are nothing but Guest houses. And a 1/3 of the houses on my block are "summer homes" empty 9mo a year. The people that own these houses and Grannyflats don't want renters anywhere near their property or need the money.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:20pm
Sounds like TC is a perfect experiment in the law of supply and demand. Either market forces (consumer demand) will push wages and therefor other prices up or businesses will go out of business dues to lack of labor. The worst thing that can be done is building a bunch of rent controlled/subsidized housing. Give it a year.
Troy La Count
Sun, 09/27/2015 - 5:11pm
Exactly!! Well put Matt!!!
Charles Richards
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:33pm
It is amazing how many otherwise intelligent, sensible people engage in spinning their wheels trying to "solve" problems that will sort themselves out on their own. The Traverse City economy will reach its own equilibrium. If the patrons of a restaurant aren't willing to pay prices that are high enough to pay wait staff well enough to afford a convenient place to live, then that individual will work someplace else where he can contribute enough value to pay his expenses.
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 5:06pm
"We hear often — almost daily — about businesses who can’t fill jobs because they can’t find people who have the skills to work them,” Lucas said." I like how every time I hear this argument from the chamber of crony capitalism and other related groups, they always leave out six little words: "...for what the market will bear. If you cannot find the caliber of help that you looking for, with what you are offering to pay them, then you are paying too little. It literally is that simple. Why do you think people are flocking to the oil towns out west and in the middle of nowhere? Here's a hint: it isn't for the scenery.
Dave h
Wed, 04/05/2017 - 5:48pm

Well-said sir!! Businesses that brag they're paying $10 an hour but still can't find enough staff don't get my sympathy at all. What is that, a whole buck-fifty over minimum wage?? Their form of benefits is a tip jar at the counter. The same guys would pay minimum wage if they could get away with it and if the economy takes it down turn that's where the wage will be, low.

mary burton
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 5:18pm
Traverse City. A great place to live if you are retired and have a pension. A terrible place to live if you need to earn a living. The saying use to be a view of the Bay is worth half the pay. Now its more like 1/3 the pay. The jobs I found in my fields, hotel management and insurance, paid 1/3 of what I was earning in Wisconsin.. Wages here are similar to what they were in lower MI and WI in the 80s. The problem is not just the high cost of housing, it is also the high cost of utilities, food and gas, combined with low, low wages. My advice to any young person with a marketable education and a work ethic, is to find a job elsewhere and come here on vacation or when you retire. The scenery isn't worth the stress and the struggle. Remember the wages you earn when you are young will affect your lifestyle when you are security, savings and pension contributions are small on an income that is seasonal or low.
Jenn Lamb
Tue, 12/08/2015 - 2:51pm
You are exactly right the wages are stuck in the 80's - healthcare included!
Sun, 01/03/2016 - 4:48pm
Absolutely! I have also noticed that EVERY Administrator, Chamber President, County/City Head, Fire Chief, and ALL other contributors to this article and policy makers, are ALL earning much more than minimum wage, and live in housing that 100% of the rest of us could not afford. AND they still get a view of the Bay. Something is definitely askew.
Mark Olson
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 9:05pm
Pilot shortage, teacher shortage, mechanic shortage, lots of shortages. No one is putting forth the obvious solution of paying what these skills are worth. The peasents will work for what we are willing to pay. Well guess what. The younger generation with a mortgage of college debt has awoke. You made the mess, deal with it.
Tue, 09/15/2015 - 8:07am
Where are all of these self proclaimed "business leaders of Michigan" on all of this? Their main concern seems to be getting whatever kind of tax breaks they can from the legislature while spouting some kind of trickle down economic nonsense that will benefit the peasants but just seems to benefit themselves.
Tue, 09/15/2015 - 12:48pm
This isn't some sort of mystery, if only the people outside the millennial demographic listened to what we have been saying all along. I worked 90+ hours a week for a tourist season just so I could save enough money to move to Seattle. I left because I was unable to finish my degree in aviation due to the lack of available loans, etc. try taking out a $20,000+ loan when you are in your mid 20's and have no credit. Here in south Seattle, I pay the same amount in rent and make 75% more. Maybe now I can put money away to finish my second degree and possibly get a decent job, traverse city is a black hole for those of us not gifted with family money.
Tue, 09/15/2015 - 1:02pm
Pay people a decent wage and they will come.
Tue, 09/15/2015 - 2:08pm
My opinion is that the zealous efforts and effects of laws, rules and ordinances which I imagine all come about with great corporate lobbying influence backed by the emotional appeal that the people are being watched out for, when in fact the ever increasing costs associated construction are pricing the starter home market into oblivion; we're from the government and we want you to be safe and energy efficient we just don't pair any of it to your real income but if you can't we have a program for you Mr./Mrs./Ms. Renter/Buyer/Developer. Then to add the more global topic of wealth disparity that seemingly is at a status quo if not widening that is a recipe for a menu of social challenges that corrected or not will have a lasting legacy. So which comes first the affordable home or the income to afford it? A new term I learned and define this way; a Chegg is the classic which came first the chicken or the egg where you assume you have one or the other but a Chegg is in between and neither the chicken nor the egg come to existence and the conundrum is in a constant state of flux.
Oh shoot
Tue, 09/15/2015 - 9:08pm
I stay here in traverse and I barely make enough to support me and my daughter with rent being 825mo then add electric and gas and psh yea affordable housing it's a struggle maybe not for some but others of us are not married and have a minimum wage job then the places that claim income based lol that's a good one. My point is if I didn't have family here umm no sorry to say it's to expensive and jobs don't pay but expect you to work like slaves
Thu, 09/17/2015 - 1:03am
Oh there's housing...but you have to make under 28k to live there because it's all subsidized. I couldn't find a place to rent so I ended up buying a condo. I came home from Afghanistan and was offered a job in TC. Every housing complex said I made over 28k so I couldn't live there and there was a 3 month waiting list for the places that would accept me.
Amelia K
Sun, 09/20/2015 - 10:02am
My husband grew up in Traverse City and I moved there after we were married. We loved it and at the time couldn't imagine raising our kids anywhere else. But jobs that pay $12-15/hour for a college graduate would barely support us let alone a family. A new opportunity came up which brought us out of state. While we don't have the scenery and the beach, we still have the small town feel and can afford a home appropriately sized for us in the area we want to live in, without struggling. I hope Traverse City finds a solution soon. We would love to move back some day but like others have said, we'd need a pension before we can do that.
Sun, 09/20/2015 - 10:28am
Part of the problem is the outrageous non-homestead taxes landlords / property owners have to pay in Traverse City. Rents need to be high in order for these properties to even come close to cash-flowing ... and in many cases, they aren't. Lower property taxes would lead to more affordable housing. Non-homestead taxes on a $180,000 property in TC is $5000 a year ($416 / month) ... who do you think is paying that?
Sun, 09/20/2015 - 11:41pm
I think a great place to develop apartments (with fair rent but not necessarily subsidized) and workforce housing ( condos, town homes) is the Warehouse district. The city is already trying to develop a plan for this close-to-town neighborhood and while it wouldn't completely solve the housing issue, it would at least be a start. Ordinances preventing giant homes in neighborhoods like Slab Town (requiring houses to it their footprint to a smaller percentage of the lot) would also help keep home value from sky rocketing, pricing most families out an area that was in the recent past family friendly and affordable.n Increasing wages is incredibly important as well in order to incentivize people to stay/come to begin with.
Wed, 10/07/2015 - 11:04pm
This problem is wide spread, one issue is that this state is mostly republican controlled and they are doing there best to destroy the middle class. First the rammed through right to work for less laws and now there going to do away with prevailing wage.Even non-union workers love to work on prevailing wage projects. When they do they can earn the same pay as the union workers. It puts everyone on a level earning scale. Our representatives are going to do a end around on the governor and lock this down so he cannot veto it. Explain this to me, if it's such a good idea why don't they put the issue on the ballot and let the voters decide?
Diane Budzynowski
Mon, 10/12/2015 - 6:14am
It is not all that affordable for retirees either. My husband and I sold our home within the TC city limits this past spring and would have loved to have stayed in town, but the price of even down-sized homes and the taxes that went with them was ridiculous. And all of the condos being developed downtown are priced to start at $300,000. We moved 20 minutes out of TC and cut our taxes and our house payment in half.
John S.
Fri, 11/06/2015 - 10:48pm
Housing is a private good. There is no reason to think that housing markets will not be efficient so long as government policies don't needlessly interfere with the market. Typically, when there a shortage of housing or rents are too high it's government policies that are responsible for restricting supply: restrictive zoning, rent control, high non-homestead taxes, unnecessary building codes, prohibitions against mobile homes, etc. Fix the government policies and sit back and watch the market work.
Sat, 12/19/2015 - 9:21pm
This story was promoted by the T A Chamber of Commerce and the developers of Pine St Devl One aka River West and another name too. Really just about making money . Not as much about dealing with rental rates . Now that business got their permit the land will become even more expensive to build the next affordable housing and probably make that even harder to afford the rent . Social justice !
Sun, 12/20/2015 - 3:01pm
"no access to public transportation"? last I checked you could go from Elk Rapids to Crystal Mountain on BATA!
Sun, 12/20/2015 - 3:12pm
everyone is talking about "affordable housing" what is affordable and for who? If I build and apartment and it costs me $900/month why should I have to rent it for $650? Subsidized housing still has to be paid for by someone! we have public transportation. the City of TC is not the place to try and make it affordable. outside the city limits works better for developers with taxes and land costs. Now we need the zoning to allow density in surrounding townships.
Tue, 12/29/2015 - 9:50pm
Please enter my request for a tiny home community in downtown Traverse City that is under $500/month! I need a place with room for a child and two cats without a crazy high security deposit. I'm sure there are many more like me!
Wed, 12/30/2015 - 10:42pm
I once heard a saying about Traverse: "A view of the bay for half the pay!" And in my experience that is so true. I am a young educated professional. I have looked for employment in the Grand Traverse area. I would love to move there from the metro Detroit area, but my experience is many companies are not willing to pay anywhere near my current salary. What I have seen has been far below scale. Hopefully as the need for labor increases, companies will be willing to pay closer to scale.
Thu, 12/31/2015 - 2:47pm
How interesting. Apparently skills + maturity isn't an acceptable substitute for skills + youth. My well developed skill set and I tried moving to Traverse City in 2012, and despite hours and hours of networking and applying, no interested employers with suitable positions were to be found. Truly a shame that no employer recognized the benefits of hiring a highly skilled middle-aged professional, and that my dream could not be realized. It would have been a win-win.
Sun, 01/03/2016 - 10:32am
I grew up in TC but had to move away in 2009. I kept trying to find a job that paid similar to what I was getting paid downstate. It took me 7 years to get back and I feel very fortunate to have found it. Living downstate, I kept getting asked why I moved down there since TC is such a great place. Hard to explain to those who live downstate why as wonderful as up north is, it is hard to make a good living.
Sun, 01/03/2016 - 6:22pm
The result of 50 years of TC catering to tourism at the exepense of the locals, and overtaxation. I'm curious as to what percentage of the County funds go to paying retirement pensions, i'd bet its more than 50 percent, thats why there is such a huge deficit.
Mon, 01/04/2016 - 9:50am
Jose is right. I am a TC native. I have been in Nashville for the last 10 years and what a terrible change I have seen in the area over the last 6 years. The left controlled city commission (we'll throw michael Moore in as well) chastise the idea of free market capitalism, all while lining their pockets with tourism gold. The problem got terrible when the area started getting top 10 lists. Has anyone noticed that Joes Friendly tavern out in empire has a summer priced menu and a winter priced menu? $8.49 in the winter for a burger and $12.49 in the summer. A certain slap in the face to locals. Then we have the folks like Michael Moore. He has 1,000 volunteers and maybe a dozen people actually recieve full time jobs from him? Yet the local left LOVES the man! Where does the millions made off the film fest go? Why is he paying $1 for his new clinch park theatre yet running Star Wars? He was supposed to play only old movies so he would not interfere with the carmike (theatre) family business who pay unbelievable amounts of money in taxes a year and dozens of paid employees, maybe even 100. Yet, all the left locals choose to look for other answers. Why was tax money wasted on west front street? Who was responsible for making west front street look like the passenger drop off at a large city airport? Why when I park my car to run into fustinis to grab a bottle of olive oil does in now cost me $1. Just last year I was able to throw a nickel in the meter, get 5 minutes of time and run in. Why were tax dollars wasted on reducing 8th st. To a one lane and putting a bike lane in the middle of 8th st. And Woodmere? And the best of all. Why is little old Traverse City even discussing AFFORDABLE HOUSING. That was not an issue when I was there. However, since all the online articles have come out, the locals running the area now believe that the house you were going to buy 8 years ago at $119,000 is now worth $329,000 because says so. I have watched the left completely take Nashville over in the last 6 years. Are we in a local economic boom? Yes, we are. What is the cost? I used to rent a house in east Nashville for $900 a month 3 years ago. That same house got jacked up to $2200 in two years. The new Nashville saying "southern comfort food for the financially comfortable folks" I have watch all the legendary venues get torn down and replaced with condos, all the legendary studios........torn down and replaced with condos. I have watched a once charming and classic city become a mini Chicago in just a few short years. The biggest local complaint? Unaffordable housing and general cost of living. I am watching the same thing happen to my God givin, land of abundance Traverse City make the same mistake. Sucking all the sense of community out of the same local community and replacing it with tourist attractions. Watching the left preach on conservation, then putting up a 7 story affordable housing unit to obscure the amazing view of that Caribbean like water. My wife and I will be moving back to the area (hopefully this spring) and raising a hell in the local commission. Traverse city needs to be restored to what once made it so great! The small community feel and atmosphere. All you see today is people walking with their heads down wondering how they are going to afford to live there another year. It needs to be stopped. Immediately. My wife and I will be up there flipping houses. Not $200-300,000 homes, but, $120-175,000 homes. Homes that locals can afford and not just be told to sign up for government assistance. It only takes a few good people to change a community. I hope we can do just that.
Tue, 01/05/2016 - 1:04pm
Rob - are you sure you are a native because your ignorant rant begs to differ. You do realize that you get 30 minutes free parking downtown, right? Push the little button near the bottom of the meter to start your free minutes and grab your bottle of olive oil just like us natives. It isn't a difficult concept. In regards to the film festival and the two theaters. I urge you to read the 2015 annual report that spells out precisely how money is spent and what goes back to the community. It's available on the main page of their website. You may also want to read up on the deed restriction of the State Theatre versus the Bijou. Further, there is a great chance that the deed restriction will be removed by Carmike with the opening of their new theater. You may want to delve a bit more into the political leanings of all the developers in the area. Hint, you turned the wrong way but by all means, blame the liberals....... the only ones trying to ensure the area doesn't get overdeveloped. Finally, if your plan is to flip sub-$200k houses and keep them "affordable" then you obviously aren't interested in turning a profit, right? Or are you just going to put the proverbial lipstick on the pig by doing the absolute minimum and ripping off the locals? Solid business plan.
Tue, 01/05/2016 - 8:10pm
Woodrow, you are very clearly the type liberal I speak of. The type to throw up peace signs, scream freedom of speech, then, call someone ignorant for not having the same opinion as you. Well done. 1. On the topic of parking. Are you speaking to the 30 minutes you can get on the two blocks of front st. because they have not changed the meters over yet? then, yes! you are right. Once they replace those two blocks of old meters to the new meters as installed in the farmers market and front st. ally meters then it will be 100% $1 paid parking. 2. I have researched to try and find reports on the film festival. They are NOT on the website. So, if you wouldn't mind, i'd truly enjoy if you could link me up with those. Much appreciated. 3. The city gave Michael Moore that Bijou property for $1. Michael Moore was told he could NOT play first run movies. Did Michael Moore listen? NO. That being said, Is michael Moore taking business away for a local business owner who supplies numerous jobs in the community? YES. Is Michael Moore paying the 3000 volunteers? NO. Is he paying the musicians that play his Film Festival? NO. Do vendors that participate in his festival have to pay him? YES. Is it $40 per ticket to go to the after parties? YES. Does it cost me money to see a film, whether it be at the State Theatre, Bijou or TCFF? YES. Is Michael Moore running a non-profit? YES. Did Michael Moore not just recently say he is a 99%er but construct a $5.3 million dollar home on torch? YES. Yet you guys still LOOOOVE the man. Again, I just really need to see those numbers you have on how much was brought in and how much went back to the community. Seeing as how it is that community that does the work. 4. It is not the developers I'm after. They are running businesses, paying taxes and trying to get rich. What gain does the local commission have to gain by letting these developers ruin a great small town? Money? that would be my guess. Again, all those TC libs can't say they want to "conserve" the area and in the same breath propose a new 7 story eye sore affordable housing unit downtown. Sorry, a bit hypocritical. 5. You did not answer any of my questions in the previous rant. including: Who is responsible for the waste of money on West Front St. Who is responsible for the waste of money on 8th and 8th and Woodmere. 6. Please do not every judge the way I conduct business. I am on a realtors watch through a local realtor. Any homes in the greater TC area for $40,000-75,000 will be flipped by us. Unfortunately my generation does not know how to do anything for themselves, So, they are scared by a "fixer upper". I am not looking to get rich, but can we get by on $20,000-40,000 profits 3-4 times a year? yes. Its called having some morals and not wanting to gouge people. We would like comfort and less financial worry. You see, If I can put my kids through college.....I will be a rich man. I am currently running my own small business in home renovation. You know how I got started? I do top notch work. I knew my employer was not going to pay me for what I thought I was worth, So, I took myself to the county clerk, got a business license and started doing top notch work for mostly Doctors. Doctors want top notch work and that is exactly what I intend to bring back home without the unaffordable word attached to it! Please do attach any links you may have for the film festival financials, and, please stop being a standard democrat and answer the questions. I asked simple questions that should have very simple answers! I will look forward to those answers! Be well.
Mon, 04/03/2017 - 8:57pm

Thank you! A lot of good points.
Having grown up in Traverse City I would also like to add that for many locals its not only career and affordable housing at stake. For those of us that have generations invested in the area, moving to a better adjusted city is not a viable option. This isn't just where we live, its our home. Some would say we are so fortunate to have grown up in this beautiful place (and we are) but it's more than a vacation destination to us. It's where we've lain down roots. Our parents could afford to raise us here as their parents did them. We just want to do the same for our children.

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 2:34pm
Good for you Rob...I hope you and your wife can make a difference.
Sun, 04/02/2017 - 9:25am

I don't think you can hang all this on housing. An alternative view is stop lowballing worker wages. No coincidence the analysis says $15.87/hr is needed full time to realistically live in TC and workers advocates have been calling for a $15 minimum wage nationwide. It's not just wages, workers need full time. So many employers keep workers at like 32 hours/wk to dodge ACA insurance laws. Then they cry cause they can't find workers.
Colleges and universities are another vector for attracting young professionals. TC should do all it can to grow the Community College both programmatically and spatially.

Mimi Heberlein
Tue, 04/04/2017 - 8:24am

So accurate. We have an event venue and retail coffee shop business in Northport- top of the Leelanau Peninsula, and are currently taking applications for summer help. The same lack of affordable housing issues plague us-only more dramatically. When people inherit an old cottage and have no interest in summering there, those buildings get a quick coat of paint and a few repairs and are dumped into the vacation rental pool instead of allowing long term rental of the property to local people at affordable rates. Some of those renters are eager to make improvements in lieu of some rent and may be interested in rent to own. Not all cottages are "vacation tourist worthy" but owners don't want to miss the big bucks they may garner for a season or at least until the terrible reviews and ratings start interfering with future bookings. Everything is a business now and anyone with a house or cottage has jumped on the fast cash train- builders included. There must be some people or organizations who are building for the future and not just to line their pockets with fast cash and no concern for a sustainable community. Ghost towns have happened before when the "miners" empty the gold out of an area. Let's not do this to our Michigan communities.

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 2:39pm

They need to stop building condos that cost less than 250,000 or much more then the normal person can afford and build more affordable housing... I see most of those high end housing units stand vacant because no one can afford them...