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Ford Presidential Museum plans $15M student learning center, theater in the round

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation plans to expand the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (303 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids) with a $15 million student learning center featuring interactive exhibits and online access to historical documents.

A 10,500-square-foot addition on the museum's south side will offer students an out-of-classroom experience with a 360-degree in-the-round theater and an interactive model of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier. Presidential papers and documents now available only at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor will be digitized and available online.

"Additionally, we will be recreating cabinet and presidential decision-making situations…which will allow students the opportunity to put themselves in these historically significant moments," says Steve Ford, chairman of the Ford Foundation and President and Betty Ford’s son. "With education cutbacks, it is now more important than ever to help supplement schools with learning experiences related to civics, character, and principled leadership."

Funding from the Secchia-Allen Student Transportation Fund will provide transportation to and from the museum, Ford says. The learning center will accommodate full classrooms of students. The curriculum is being developed by the foundation, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University.

The board of trustees pledged the first $10 million of the $15 million goal. Construction could begin in 2013.

"Student learning is an important aspect of every generation and with such a unique time in history, it is vital that students understand problem solving and our nation’s history," Ford says. "With an increasing dependence on technology, the public, students, and academia will be able to study the Presidency from around the world."

Source: Steve Ford, Gerald R. Ford Foundation; SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Proposed Ballroom at McKay Tower could bring majestic celebration space to downtown Grand Rapids

Development to convert a buttoned-down marble bank lobby into majestic ballroom space in downtown Grand Rapids is halfway to its goal with Planning Commission approval last week. If the Grand Rapids City Commission approves the new use on Nov. 27, the historic McKay Tower (146 Monroe Center Ave. NW) could open the proposed Ballroom at McKay for its first wedding reception, banquet, or business conference in spring 2013.

The former Grand Rapids National Bank lobby features impressive granite walls, massive floor-to-ceiling marble columns, a mezzanine overlooking the main floor, and the original bank vault, all of which will be incorporated into a new 250-seat event space in the heart of downtown. The space has been vacant since 2008.

Building owners Steadfast Property Holdings, LLC, plan to add a commercial catering kitchen and obtain a liquor license for the venue.

"Downtown Grand Rapids continues to be the desired location for special events and we felt that our product is one that would be well received," says Chaundra Derks, director of operations for Steadfast Property Holdings. "It has been our intention since acquiring the building in May to build out the bank into some sort of special space, so our recent announcement is just part of our overall strategy for re-inventing McKay Tower."

McKay Tower is situated across the street from Rosa Parks Circle and home to many local businesses, including Kilwin's, Biggby Coffee, Sushi-Yama, Subs N More, Chic's Frame & Poster, and Charlie's Shoe Repair.

Source: Chaundra Derks, Steadfast Property Holdings; Craig Clark, Clark Communications
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Metro Health invests $1M in orthopedic surgery suite, heart/vascular offices downtown Grand Rapids

Metro Health and Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan (OAM) will add a fourth surgery suite to the partnership's surgery center in the Women's Health Center of West Michigan building (555 Mid Towne St. NE, Grand Rapids). In addition, Metro Health will add 10,000 square feet to an adjoining Metro Heart and Vascular medical practice, which will make room for a new Metro Health Orthopedics office.

"This facility offers greater efficiency and lower cost for patients, and, for many patients, is closer to home," says Metro Health President and CEO Mike Faas. "After settling in, we expect to see up to 300 patients per week in the Metro Health Orthopedics practice. The heart and vascular practice expects to see 360-380 patients per month."

The existing three-suite orthopedic surgery center opened in the Women's Health Center in 2009, handling out-patient knee and shoulder arthroscopic surgeries, foot and ankle surgeries, hand surgeries and some general orthopedic surgeries, says Faas.

Metro Health says the surgery center is the area's only surgical center focused entirely on orthopedic surgeries. The new surgery suite will serve its first patients in January 2013.  

Source: Mike Faas, Metro Health; Nick Wasmiller, Wondergem
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids Brewing Company to open $2M microbrewery with Michigan's first certified-organic brews

The final paperwork for the organic certification process through the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be complete this week. With that, the Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC) at 1 Ionia Ave. SW will open the doors to Michigan's first certified-organic brewery.  

Mark Sellers, co-owner of Barfly Ventures, which owns GRBC, HopCat, Stella's Lounge, and other Grand Rapids bars, says the brewery will open with 10 certified-organic brews on tap.

The 15,000-square-foot brewery/restaurant celebrates its official opening Dec. 5 in the totally renovated main level of the structure that combines 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW.

Sellers says the inspiration for the organic brewery hit him after he visited Pisgah Brewing Company, an organic brewery in Black Mountain, NC.

"It was a great brewery and I didn't even know it was an organic brewery until after I was there," Sellers says. "I thought, organic beer doesn't taste any different. I looked into the feasibility of doing organic brewing in Michigan, and we figured out a way to do it." He adds that some of the hops are Michigan-grown, and the grains and malts are from Midwest farms.

GRBC will open with a well-rounded beer menu that includes a brown ale, an IPA, a Hefeweizen, a fruit beer, a stout, a porter, and the brewery's signature pilsner-style, Silver Foam. A full food menu includes house-made sausage, burgers, and foods from local farms and suppliers.

Sellers is especially proud that the design and construction of the brewery is by Grand Rapids- and Michigan-based companies and artisans -- down to the tables, bar, and furniture -- including:

•    Architectural design: Lott3Metz, Grand Rapids.
•    Construction management: Mark Schaafsma Design Build, Caledonia.
•    Interior design: David Dodde, Grand Rapids.
•    Tabletops from wood floor joists reclaimed from 1 and 7 Ionia: Jay Ubelous, Against the Grain Concepts, Lansing.
•    Table legs for some of the tables (using the old fire protection system from the building): Harry Goossens, Total Fire Protection.
•    Bar top and back bar: Marc Wiegers of Greenwood Studio, Grand Rapids.
•    Chairs: handmade at CND Products, Grand Rapids.
•    Kitchen/bar equipment: Franklin Food Service Equipment & Supply, Holland.
•    Draft system: Quality Draft Systems, Grand Rapids.
•    Brewing system: designed and built by Craftwerk Brewing Systems, Lake Orion.

Source: Mark Sellers, Barfly Ventures; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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East Grand Rapids home to new urban bicycle showroom, repair shop

A new oasis for urban cyclists is open for business near East Grand Rapids' Gaslight Village. Grand Rapids Bicycle Company renovated the former The Moving Company building (644 Lovett Ave. SE) into a hip cycle showroom offering pedal transportation for everyone from pre-pedal age through adult.

The showroom is the company's second location and follows the spring opening of its main store, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company and Trailhead Café, at 1200 East Paris SE, near Bill & Paul's Sporthaus.

"We can repair, maintenance, and tune anything out there," says store manager Thomas Fish. "The quality of personalized service is the main thing we're trying to differentiate ourselves with. No matter if you have a kids' bike or an expensive road bike, we're going to make sure it fits and that you're happy with it."

Fish is a United Bicycle Institute-certified bike mechanic. He says the Bicycle Company's other two mechanics, Eric Fisher and K. C. Trotter, have a combined 46 years of cycle repair experience and a number of certifications.

Besides maintenance and repair, the shop carries U.S.-made Jamis Bikes and Felt Bicycles, Cervelo Cycles high-end racing bikes, and Surly "fat bikes" for winter riding. The shop also offers a selection of kids' bikes from wooden, pedal-free balance bikes for tiny riders to kickbikes, to frames sized for 8-, 10-, and 12-year-olds. And the store carries a variety of accessories, including clothing, gloves, Burley products, and more.

Fall/Winter hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat.

Source: Thomas Fish, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Renovation makes Grand Rapids' Calder Plaza Building ready for 21st Century businesses

After Smith, Haughey, Rice, and Roegge's law offices decided to relocate to the historic Flat Iron Building in downtown Grand Rapids, the Calder Plaza Building (250 Monroe Ave. NW) faced its first major vacancy in 20 years.

As a result, some 38,000 square feet of leasable space on floors two and three have been gutted to white-box stage, says Bruce Parsons of Executive Property Management (EPM), one of the owners of the building. The result, says Parsons, is "a lot of window space and a lot of interior space that gives all kinds of flexibility to an interested and involved party moving in."

Parsons says both floors feature 120-feet by 150-feet of floor space surrounded by exterior windows. The nine-story building sits amid the city's financial district, adjacent to the City/County buildings, just steps from the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building, and across the street from DeVos Place convention center.

EPM selected Concept Design Group to create some preliminary drawings to illustrate possible renovation options for tenants, and will include a tenant renovation allowance in the lease price, which could range from $15 to $50 per square foot.

A total renovation of the building's two-level lobby recently brought the public spaces into the 21st Century with Italian stone tile, new lighting, and a fresh face on the grand staircase connecting the two levels. The renovation features oil paintings of Le Grande Vitesse, the bright orange Alexander Calder sculpture in the Ottawa Avenue-plaza that gives the building its name.

"We've planned to do this for some time and right now, it's propitious to do it," Parsons says.

Source: Bruce Parsons, Executive Property Management; Brittany Tuori, Colliers International
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Slam Subs socks a homer, welcomes first customers after two years of setbacks

After two years of setbacks, and working with what the owner calls a "miniscule budget," Grand Slam Subs (600 Lake Michigan Dr. NW) has rounded the bases and crossed home plate on its feet.

Aaron Baker, owner, began the process of renovating a non-descript building on the corner of Seward Avenue NW and Lake Michigan Dr. NW way back in 2010 -- a building that sat vacant and decaying for years. Complicated zoning issues, neighborhood concerns, and a lack of funding assistance made him nearly throw up his hands in defeat.

Instead, Baker, 31, pushed forward and opened his baseball-themed Grand Slam Subs earlier this month. His enthusiasm is evident in his fast chatter punctuated with laughter.

"We have [ball] gloves and baseballs hanging from the ceiling, pictures of the old Chicago stadium, old baseball logos and graphics, and my favorite is a Babe Ruth sign that says 'Never let the fear of striking out get in your way,'" Baker says, barely taking a breath.
    
The inspirational Babe Ruth poster might well be Baker's personal motto given the number of strikeouts he had.

Baker says he met with the City of Grand Rapids and The Right Place, Inc., looking for grants or incentives to revitalize the abandoned Metrol Controls building. He says the project didn't qualify for anything. He says he also asked the Downtown Development Authority for help, but the building was just 50 or so feet outside the DDA's west boundary, which runs down the middle of Seward Avenue NW.
    
"We looked into historical grants," Baker says. "We looked into Brownfield redevelopment, economic development initiatives, SmartZones, Corridor Improvement Districts, Neighborhood Enterprise Zones, Renaissance Zones, and abatement grants. All these incentives, grant money, and financial assistance for a building and a project that should have warranted assistance and nothing was available!"

All that is in the past. Grand Slam Subs "Bull Pen, Sluggers, and Fielders" menu now offers customers a variety of fresh sub sandwiches and a veggie burger, as well as soups, salads, white chicken chili, and soft drinks.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but will stay open later when it's busy.

Source: Aaron Baker, Grand Slam Subs
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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GVSU's $40M Seidman College of Business to offer stocks trading simulation lab, opens Spring 2013

When Grand Valley State University's Seidman College of Business opens its new $40 million facility in May 2013, many of its students will be immersed in trading stocks and bonds using real-time data in a new state-of-the-art trading simulation classroom.

Construction of the 127,000-square-foot structure that peeks over Grand Rapids' famed US-131 "S" Curve at Front St. NW is on track. Crews have shifted from structural and façade construction to the start of interior dry walling, installing ceilings and trims, and painting, says project manager Bob Brown, GVSU's assistant director for facilities planning.

"This building will give students the types of classrooms that will help facilitate learning in the way the work world is today," Brown says. "The trading room can simulate live trading of stocks and bonds. Nine computer stations with four flat screens each will be set up with Bloomberg for live data on the market per an agreement with GVSU."

The building, which is on track for Silver LEED-NC certification, will offer a total of 15 classrooms, faculty offices, undergrad and graduate student services, faculty offices, and multipurpose meeting space. Several organizations will have offices on the main level, including the Center for Entrepreneurship, Family Business Alliance, the Van Andel Global Trade Center, and others.

The college razed a former A&P grocery warehouse to make room for the new building. Brown says the original structure was concrete, which was ground up and used in the new building's load transfer base.

"It allows us to use the existing soils as part of the foundation system," Brown says. "We put in eleven hundred Controlled Modulus Columns, then the load transfer base about four feet thick was put in, and the building's foundation sits on that. It's used heavily out east and this might be one of the first buildings in the area [to use it]."

Source: Bob Brown, Grand Valley State University
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Successful interior design firm finds welcome and opportunity in Grand Rapids, relocates from Troy

Jan Parker McCollum and her husband, Tim McCollum, were empty nesters looking for something new. So a year ago, they packed up their businesses, left the Detroit area, and moved into Boardwalk Condominiums.

The quest to find office space for her interior design company, J. Parker McCollum, Inc., concluded when Jan McCollum found a 985-square-foot loft on the third floor of the Brass Works Building, just down the street at 648 Monroe Ave. NW.

"The idea of moving was huge," McCollum says. "Tim and I both operate our own businesses (he owns LTC Consulting), but they are businesses that can be operated wherever and we didn't want to think about 'what if.' We call it a next chapter journey."

McCollum designs residential and commercial interiors, working with area builders, local furniture makers, homeowners, and business owners. The company has a full-time design assistant, two interns from Kendall College of Art & Design, and plans to bring on an office manager in the next few weeks.

"We want to be a hotbed of ideas and design," McCollum says. "My goal is to develop a great team of designers, and I'm especially interested in mentoring new designers. We're so excited to have the interns from Kendall. We include them in the design process, so as we're working on projects we get them involved in concepting, drafting, and research."

McCollum says that, coming from the east side of the state, she didn't realize there is a distinctive West Michigan culture. She's put a lot of time and energy into learning the culture and connecting with the community through groups like the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Home Repair Services.

"A lot of our focus has been learning West Michigan and understanding the market here," she says. "We really love it here."

Source: Jan Parker McCollum, J. Parker McCollum, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Sports bar or microbrewery? Two die-hard Tigers fans put baseball spin on new Grand Rapids brewpub

Memorabilia from the Detroit Tigers, The Negro Baseball League, the Women's Baseball League, and six seats from the old Tigers' stadium give the new Mitten Brewing a distinctive theme that pairs well with hearty craft beer.

What used to be Engine House No. 9 (527 Leonard St. NW) on Grand Rapids' west side is now one of the city's newest microbreweries, headed up by lifelong friends and Grand Rapids natives Max Trierweiler and Christopher Andrus. Trierweiler and Andrus, both 32, have brewed beer together for over five years with the goal of opening a microbrewery. They brought on head brewer Rob Wanhatalo, former head brewer of The Hideout Brewing Company, to oversee production.

"Finding the right piece of property and the right vintage theme tied it all together for people like us -- baseball fans and lovers of craft beer," Andrus says. "There's nothing around here that mixes a sports bar and microbrewery."

The guys say they've spent 50 hours a week since February gutting and rebuilding the 2,700-square-foot main level to accommodate a three-barrel brewing system and taproom. They created the bar out of reclaimed lumber from the building, polished up the original firepole, added five flat-screen TVs, and installed a pizza oven and walk-in cooler. The plan is to serve six site-brewed beers when the operation is in full swing.

For Mitten Brewing's opening on October 25, the taps will flow with three beers: Peanut & Crackerjack, a robust porter brewed with natural peanut butter, and caramel and chocolate malts; a traditional German Hefeweizen wheat beer; and the pub's Mitten Hefeweizen, an American amber pale ale.

The pizza menu features pizzas created to pair with specific brews, such as, the Thai pizza with peanut sauce that pairs with the Peanut & Crackerjack beer.

"Every month, we'll designate a charity to donate a portion of our proceeds to," Trierweiler says. "For the first month, our investors chose the first round of charities, which will be the new Miracle League Field proposed in Rockford."

Hours: first two weeks, open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Beginning early Nov., Mon. - Weds. 11 a.m. to midnight; Thurs. - Sat. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sun. noon to midnight.

Source: Max, Trierweiler, Christopher Andrus, Mitten Brewing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Former Heritage Hill flower shop gets new owners, new purpose

A new life with new purpose is on the horizon for a small neighborhood store that has been a flower shop since the late 1800s. The two-story building on the corner of Crescent St. NE and Union Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, was the longtime home of Crescent Street Floral and then Violet Northeast, but will soon be the new location for the real estate team of Griffin Properties.

The original building burned down in the thirties, says Griffin Properties owner Diane Griffin, and the current building was grandfathered in to always be a flower shop. After months of meetings with the Heritage Hill Association, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Grand Rapids Planning Commission, and others, Griffin says all entities approved the building's new use.

"One issue was the intensity of the business and the need for street parking by residents," Griffin says. "We agreed to add a small parking lot, tastefully, so as not to take up any street parking. I was going to be the listing agent for the building and I kept looking at it and looking at it and it just kept hitting me that this building could be for us."

Griffin will add the parking area adjacent to the building on the north. The exterior of the building, covered in distinctive green glazed tiles, will be restored. Inside, a small storage area under the windows will be removed to increase floor space and the building will get a new HVAC system, including, for the first time, central air.

Griffin Properties now operates out of 800 square feet on the corner of Fulton St. NE and Fuller Avenue NE. Griffin Properties will retain ownership of that building and might lease it or use it as extra office space.

Griffin expects to close on the building Oct. 31 and move in by early December.

Source: Diane Griffin, Griffin Properties,
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Last portion of historic Holland middle school campus renovated as state-of-the-art day center

The multi-million dollar renovation of an entire city block near downtown Holland culminates this Friday with the opening of the Day Center of Evergreen in the historic E. E. Fell Middle School (55 W. 16th St.).

The Day Center of Evergreen, part of The Commons of Evergreen, cares for senior citizens who require daytime care and social activities, especially those suffering from stroke, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease. The $1.5m renovation of the former girls' gymnasium of the middle school is the culmination of in-depth research on facility design specifically for persons with cognitive disabilities.

"It's pretty normal for people with Alzheimer's and dementia to want to leave, so this is designed with none of the windows looking back at the entrance," says Evergreen CEO Dave Knibbe. "The color palette is in calming earth tones and variations of a color so they can visibly find the restrooms and move from room to room. It feels residential, warm, and safe."

The 12,000 square feet is twice the capacity the day center had at its former location, 480 State St., and is the last building on the block bounded by W. 15th St. (north), S. River Avenue (east), W. 16th St. (south), and Pine Avenue (west) to undergo renovation.

Last October, Dwelling Place built 30 senior living apartments inside the former middle school, a $15m project. Prior to that, Jubilee Ministries renovated a former high school on the property into commercial space for nonprofits.
 
The new day center offers clients a great room with two fireplaces, an art room, music room, a kitchen where they can re-learn cooking skills, a gymnasium with exercise equipment, a game room, and more. The facility also features specialized bathing facilities, foot and hair care areas, laundry facilities, and meals.

A public open house is planned for Oct. 26 at 11 a.m.

Source: Dave Knibbe, The Commons of Evergreen
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids electronics recycler opens resale e-store on city's southwest side

If you're looking for a bargain in refurbished computers, laptops, audio systems, or gaming systems, Comprenew's new e-store could be your playground. The new storefront at 453 S. Division Ave. follows on the success of an established store at 1454 28th St SE.

Comprenew recycles some 300,000 lbs. of discarded electronics a month, says Marketing Director Paul Kehoe, and part of that recycling push is to refurbish and sell the 15 to 20 percent of the intake that is marketable.

"Our shelves are full," Kehoe says. "Laptops and flat screen displays are big sellers and our inventory is strong. People have upgraded their electronics to new models, and the things they recycle with us are in great condition."

Comprenew gets its recycled electronics through community and corporate recycling events and from area residents who drop off their unwanted electronics at the recycling center (629 Ionia Ave. SW). Certified repair technicians refurbish the top products for resale in both stores. The mix of inventory depends on the items recycled, and Kehoe says it can include VCRs, turntables, and vintage stereo systems.

Kehoe says the S. Division store is in a century-old building. A three-month renovation readied the space for the sale of today's electronics while maintaining the vintage atmosphere with the aged wood floors and original brick walls.

E-store hours (both locations): Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Source: Paul Kehoe, Comprenew
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Two downtown parks seek new ways to honor Grand Rapids' casualties of war

Two downtown Grand Rapids parks honoring the area's military who died in wars dating from the Civil War through Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War in Afghanistan are part of a study to determine how to upgrade the aging parks and include spaces of reverence for the war memorials there.

A steering committee comprised of residents, veterans, and city parks and recreation leaders has begun the task of assessing the condition of the landscapes and war memorials in Monument Park (northeast corner of Fulton St. and Division Avenue) and the adjacent Veterans Memorial Park (bounded by E. Fulton on the south, Park NE on the east, Library St. on the north, and Sheldon Avenue on the west).

According to steering committee chairman Christopher Reader, the project proposes to gather recommendations from monument preservation specialists, landscape designers, and the public.

"The area around the monuments is kind of like a sacred space," Reader says. "You want it to be special and different. How do you delineate between the sacred space and the public space? How do you tell the story of the conflicts that the memorials represent?"

Monument Park features a monument to the Civil War and a series of historical plaques. Veterans Memorial Park has monuments to WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Purple Heart monument, a bust of Longfellow, a bust of Grand Rapids philanthropist Thomas D. Gilbert (a driving force behind the creation of Monument Park), a fountain, a concrete plaza, and lights -- all of which are aging. Many have been vandalized.

"The community's expectation as to how those spaces may want to function in the future may look different [than when the parks were built]," says Jay Steffen, director of Grand Rapids parks and recreation.

"We want to honor the veterans," Reader says. "That's our first priority."

Public focus group meetings are planned for November. More information, including dates, locations, and progress, will be available soon on a website accessible through the city's planning department web page.

Source: Christopher Reader, Parks Steering Committee; Jay Steffen, Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Fulton Group sees foreclosed homes as building blocks for Grand Rapids neighborhoods

The Fulton Group partner Josh Smith says that with the renovation of nearly 100 foreclosed homes under its belt, the company is living out its mission to "make substantial investments in deteriorating properties within the city of Grand Rapids to … make the city a better place to live."

The Fulton Group, a Grand Rapids housing renovation and property management company (928 E. Fulton St.) owned by lifelong Grand Rapidians Rob Murray, Kevin Polakovich, and Josh Smith, started five years back with a goal to buy, renovate, and lease vacant foreclosed properties. The group has two focus areas for development: East Hills/Midtown/Fulton Business District and the lower west side along Seward, Chatham, and Lake Michigan Dr. -- areas that are primarily residential, but close to downtown and public transit.

"Four or five years ago was kind of the peak of the housing market depression," Smith says. "Kevin and I, being in the mortgage/construction/real estate business, said to each other that the value of the land is worth what the houses are going for. We wanted to concentrate in specific areas around downtown Grand Rapids. We can really make an impact in these neighborhoods if we do it right."

For Smith, "do it right" means gutting every property and rebuilding so every bedroom has an adjoining bath, each unit has a laundry area, and all multi-unit properties have ample soundproofing between apartments.

Smith says a current project at 604 Chatham NW has four all-new, two-bedroom apartments that could be available in the next 30 days. The property, purchased at a Kent County tax auction in 2011, is adjacent to a foreclosed property Fulton Group already owned. Razing the foreclosed property created a parking area and green space for the multi-unit.

"In 2012, we've done 18 separate projects so far," Smith says. "We're looking to do 20 to 30 properties in 2013. Right now, we have about 20 properties that are waiting to get onto the construction schedule."

Source: Josh Smith, Fulton Group; Matt Muscat, Treadstone Mortgage
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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