With soaring housing costs exacerbating the pressing need for workforce and senior housing across the county, Inverness officials have worked diligently to create a welcoming climate to attract housing affordable in the city.

Adopting a business-friendly approach characterized by mutual cooperation and community engagement, the city has developed a collaborative process with developer Green Mills Group, and for residents, this is paying dividends in affordable housing.

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The dividends of this collaborative process are the construction by Green Mills Group of its first affordable housing complex, Colonnade Apartments, in Inverness. The apartments have not only proven to be a huge success with a waiting list of over 400 applicants, but also an aesthetically appealing community asset that has had a positive influence on neighboring neighborhoods.

The success of the Colonnade Apartments prompted Green Mills Group to propose a second affordable housing project in Inverness, which city officials have welcomed with open arms.

Although Colonnade Apartments are a community asset, the myth that affordable, privately developed labor or senior housing is akin to the government-subsidized social housing of the past persists. Thus, some residents living near the proposed Forrest Drive site have raised stereotypical concerns of increased crime, increased traffic, and declining property values.

Rather than these concerns becoming an obstacle, however, the city’s collaborative process allowed them to be voiced and acted upon.

The original proposal for a four-story, 110-unit family apartment complex was scaled down to three stories and 100 units. More importantly for nearby residents, the family apartments on offer have been replaced with accommodation for the over 55s with upgrades including a club room, fitness centre, games room, swimming pool and a community garden. Additionally, Green Mills Group plans to construct a 10-foot-wide buffer zone between apartments and nearby residents.

As a direct result of the town’s collaborative process, nearby residents’ willingness to put engagement above emotion, and the Green Mills Group’s responsiveness to residents’ concerns, Inverness will in the near future have a other affordable housing that will be an asset to the community.

Inverness has long been recognized as a ‘small, well done’ city. The commitment of city officials to lead the way in providing much needed affordable housing to the city and the willingness of residents to engage in a collaborative process also earn Inverness recognition as a “small city, big heart “.