Modular Homes for Vacant Inner-City Parcels Create Affordable Solution

new modular home in Romulus
Romulus residents watch a new modular home installation in their neighborhood.

Partnership Brings New Modular Homes to Romulus, Mich.

If you’re looking to buy a new home in Michigan, you may be surprised to learn that there increasingly are more options in neighborhoods near you.

There is an expanding modular infill program led by Champion Homes, a new commercial developer, and local municipalities. The program places new, affordable modular homes on vacant parcels within cities.

Modular home installation
From left, Romulus Councilwoman Virginia Williams, resident Debbie Hopkins and Councilwoman Eva Webb came out to watch the home installation.

“I just had to come out and see how this is done,” said Debbie Hopkins, a Romulus resident. “It is so fascinating. I live in the neighborhood. It’s really nice to see a home like this come in and improve the neighborhood. It’s so welcomed.”

The home at 11100 Wahrman Street is a single-family residence with three bedrooms and 1.5 baths.

The Madison is the model name for the home, which has 1,556 square feet of interior living space.

The home is being finished and the property landscaped so it can be listed and sold. 

“Rooftops are good things,” Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff said. “Any time you’re putting families in homes, you have to feel good about that. And we like the commercial and industrial, too, that provides jobs for the family that will live here. It all works together and this is a valuable part of the mix.”

“The home fits in very well, it has a poured foundation and basement, and it’s brand new,” the mayor said. “This is exactly what we need.”

How A New Home Helps Build Community

Area residents and city officials watched in awe as huge sections of the new modular home were lifted from the back of a truck and set in place.

The installation team set up a tent to provide shade, cold water, and sandwich and chips lunch for the neighborhood.

“This type of construction will bring families together, bring in people who grew up in Romulus, give them a place to come home,” Romulus City Councilwoman Eva Webb said. “This is a great neighborhood, we just have to let more people know about what we’re doing here.”

new Romulus modular home lifted and set
One of the four modules for the new Romulus home is lifted into place.

A Modular Home from Champion

The new modular home in Romulus is built by Champion Homes at a plant in Pennsylvania. The Troy-based builder transported the home in modules. It was crane-lifted and assembled on site. The construction and delivery process for this type reduces the price for homebuyers. A modular home will be sold for about 40% less than the comparable site-built home with the same design and construction materials.

Champion Homes works with InnovaLab, a modular developer based in Grand Rapids, to bring new, affordable modular homes to empty parcels within the city. A half dozen of those homes have been set or are in the planning stages, according to David Allen, who leads the effort for InnovaLab. The State Land Bank Authority has entered an agreement to bring the modular program to other communities.

Romulus modular apex development group
From left, Romulus developers Aaron Suzore, Omar Abdallah and Braden Russow of Apex Development Group.

Champion, InnovaLab and the land bank selected 15 home models that are eligible for placement on existing developed parcels.

Working With Local Governments

Apex Development Group is run by Aaron Suzore, Braden Russow and Omar Abdallah, which purchased the Romulus property and home. The group will list the modular home for sale with guidance from InnovaLab.

The home will receive a front porch, railings and walkup before being listed.

“We worked with the city and the downtown development authority hand-in-hand all of the way, and it has been a really amazing process. The local government has been a great partner throughout, and we’re looking forward to getting more homes where they’re needed,” Suzore said.

“We cleared this parcel 33 days ago, got a foundation in with a basement and today the home is in within four hours. We’ll do a walkthrough this afternoon,” he said. “I’m looking forward, hopefully in just a few weeks, to handing over the keys and saying ‘Here’s your new home’. That’s really why we’re doing this.”

new modular home roof pitch
Home installers lift the pitched roof into place before beginning the interior finishes.
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