Osborn Commons with Woda Cooper + HDJ

Aerial view of apartment building named Osborn Commons on a sunny day in downtown Sue Ste Marie, Michigan

Project Leadership

Headshot of Rob Gustafson.

Rob Gustafson, PE, LEED AP

Senior Project Manager

Headshot of Patrick Kelderhouse.

Patrick Kelderhouse, AIA, NCARB

Lead Project Architect

Outline of Project

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Improving Lives Together – Woda Cooper + HDJ

While HDJ certainly doesn’t chase or design for awards and honors, we have to admit that it is nice to be recognized for our impactful contribution to improving lives. 

One recent project that is indicative of our portfolio was selected for honors through a pair of programs. Osborn Commons, located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is a prime example of the positive impact affordable housing and community development can have on a neighborhood and city. Osborn Commons, a Woda Cooper development,  received an Affordable Housing Finance reader’s choice award for best rural development at AHF Live and was also named a top winner in the USGBC Detroit Region Leadership Council Awards. The affordable housing building was also recognized as Michigan’s Green Building of the Year: Homes. 

The property is a 65-unit mixed-income community with 63 rent-restricted affordable units in high demand in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Osborn Commons is also the first LEED Gold-certified building in the city. Osborn Commons offers affordable downtown housing options for residents at a mix of incomes, plus many lifestyle amenities, including a fitness center and 4th-floor terrace with fantastic views of the Soo Locks.  A new grocery store and market Is on the street level, offering convenient access to beverages, snacks, dairy products, fresh produce, packaged dry goods, and meal items. The need for affordable housing comes with any growing community. Sault Ste Marie, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on the St. Mary’s River and just across the border from Canada, is a growing small business community with an advanced manufacturing industry. 

Positive Community Impact

“With the City of Sault Ste. Marie being a premier outdoor vacation destination, we are keenly aware of the economic importance of maintaining the health and wellbeing of our natural surroundings,” said Mayor Don Gerrie. “We were gratified to receive news that Osborn Commons has been recognized as meeting the LEED Gold standards, making it the first building in our City to receive that honor.”  

Osborn Commons is a prime example of the positive impact of affordable housing and community development on a neighborhood and city.

Open-concept of main living space and spacious kitchen, countertop, and fridge, with two closets in an Osborn Commons apartment unit.

“Osborn Commons brings more housing to downtown Sault Ste. Marie, including affordable and market-rate housing, in a fantastic energy-efficient development that bridges the Soo Locks area with the rest of downtown,” said Craig Patterson, Senior Vice President of Woda Cooper . “The vision for Osborn Commons started with a comprehensive state placemaking initiative led by the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to transform Sault Ste. Marie’s underutilized Moloney Alley into a vibrant Live/Work/Play environment poised for further development.”

LEED Gold is Affordable Housing!

The HDJ + Woda Team has proven that LEED Gold is affordable housing and positively impacts Sault Ste. Marie’s economy and environment. Through its experience, HDJ understands how to to develop sustainable strategies that are both environmentally-thoughtful and cost-effective. Our sustainable design recommendations are engineered around proven technologies in innovative applications and grounded by reasonable pay-back periods. Michigan’s most prized natural resource is our Great Lakes and environmentally-responsible developers and architects are helping to make a difference, one building at a time.   

Osborn Commons Is confirmation that sustainability does not have to come at the expense of practical business operations. With our guiding principle of improving lives through design, we do so directly and indirectly. HDJ prioritizes sustainable design, defined as balancing environmental, economic, and social concerns. Sustainable design is beneficial to our firm and our clients because it often reduces operating and waste management costs and increases productivity. It makes both environmental sense and business sense.  

Client: Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. (Woda Cooper), is a fast-paced development, construction, and property management organization dedicated to creating quality affordable housing to benefit those who need it most. An employee-owned, passion-driven group that changes each community they are a part of. Woda Cooper manage over 14,000 housing units in 15 states, proudly serving seniors, veterans, and economically challenged groups. 


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