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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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Eyesores no more: empty buildings spur new economic energy on Michigan Street

Nearly an entire city block on Grand Rapids' Michigan St. NE is slated for a massive overhaul to transform several vacant and underused eyesores into updated medical offices, retail, and restaurants.

Third Coast Development Partners could begin renovation of the vacant Miller-Zylstra Lumber company building (833 Michigan St. NE) as early as the end of this month to transform the 11,000-square-foot space in a modern office for two doctors' groups, says Third Coast's co-owner Brad Rosely.

Rosely declines to name the groups, but says they'll move in around May 1, 2013, after the renovation adds a window wall along Michigan St., re-skins the structure with a new façade, and completely rebuilds the interior. Plans include recessing the building, which now sits tight to the sidewalk, to a 16-ft. setback.

The revamp includes a massive updating of the two-story brick building behind the lumber company (411 Houseman NE).

"It's a good, solid post and beam building that you can't duplicate anymore," Rosely says. "We have a restaurant looking at the first floor, a butcher shop looking at it, and a couple of medical users looking at the second floor. You're not going to recognize it with the new windows, new glass lobby for the second floor, and [with] a porch on it."

Rosely says the property spans the block east to west, from Houseman to Eastern Avenue NE. He projects the entire project will cost $5.6 million and could be complete by mid-2013.

An additional project to raze and renovate an old gas station on the corner of Eastern and Michigan could begin in November. That property will have a new convenience store and a car wash.

"The Michigan Street Corridor Plan had a lot of influence with our interest in this building," Rosely says. "To be able to stimulate the taxes that will last forever with this site [and] the jobs and future opportunities on the sites, these are huge benefits to the city."

Architect: Concept Design Group
Construction manager: Pioneer Construction

Source: Brad Rosely, Third Coast Development Partners
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Technology and your taste buds: Vinely takes guesswork out of buying wine

If you're not a wine connoisseur, choosing a wine from a wall of bottles can mean spending a lot of money and getting something you don't like. Cambridge, Mass.-based Vinely says it has the solution: technology.

Vinely's proprietary software, developed by Vinely owner Bill Wittenberg and MIT scientist/Redstar Ventures owner Joe Chung, gives people a fun way to find wines that suit their taste buds using feedback they provide at a Vinely wine tasting party.

At the party, guests do a blind taste test of six wines. They record their reactions to tartness, sweetness, texture, tingle, and other aspects using a five-point scale. A Vinely "pro" enters the information into the software to get each guest's personalized "wine personality": Easy Going, Whimsical, Exuberant, Moxie, Sensational, or Serendipitous.

"People have been astonished with how well we actually know their wine tastes," says Elizabeth Goede, VP of marketing. "The first step is to get your wine personality. Your next step is to place an order for six or 12 different wines, which come with a rating card and the five-point scale, to help you refine your tastes."

The parties are private, in-home or office gatherings. The cost to host a party ranges from $75 for 12 people to taste wines of $10 to $15 per bottle, up to $120 for wines ranging from $30 to $60 per bottle. A Vinely pro attends each party to guide the wine tasting and handle the feedback and results.

Although Vinely was developed in Massachusetts, the company chose to launch its startup phase in West Michigan with a soft launch in April and an official launch at MoDiv earlier this week. Vinely has 10 employees locally and a storage/shipping facility for the wines in Cascade, Goede says.

For more information or to book a party, visit Vinely's website here, or call 888-294-1128.

Source: Elizabeth Goede, Vinely; Kim Bode, 834 Design & Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Technology industry demands new skills, Davenport Univ. responds with two advanced tech programs

In response to industry and government demands for technology workers with advanced skills, Davenport University will launch two new technology degree programs in the Fall 2013 school year.

The programs -- Master of Science in Technology Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics -- will prepare students for jobs that continue to open up as corporations and governments become more technology driven, says Dr. Michael Clancy, dean of Davenport University’s College of Technology.

"A new report from Hewlett-Packard and the Ponemon Institute says a cyber attack averages $8 to $9 million in damage costs," Clancy says. "Davenport sits on the Information Technology Executive Council (iTEC), which has the 18 largest companies in Michigan, so we're hearing all the challenges and problems they're having."

Clancy says that one of the problems he hears consistently is that, when people in IT are promoted to management, they don't have any management training, for example, in how to put together a departmental budget. The Masters of Science and Technology Management will fill that gap, combining technical and business education to prepare students for corporate and government IT management roles.

Digital Forensics -- preserving, analyzing and reporting on digital media, involving computers, mobile devices, memory storage and network activity -- is a "very, very techie program" that equips students to conduct in-depth investigation into cyber crimes, such as, data theft, data corruption, and the planting of viruses and worms in computers, mobile devices, memory storage and networks.

"Because Davenport University is labeled by the federal government as a Center of Academic Excellence in IT security, our graduates can move right into the NSA or Department of Homeland Security as a digital forensics specialist," Clancy says.

Interested students can apply now for classes that begin with the Fall 2013 semester.

Source: Dr. Michael Clancy, Davenport University College of Technology
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

CityFlats Hotel opens modernized 1920s ballroom, event space in downtown Grand Rapids

It's been just a year since the boutique CityFlatsHotel opened in downtown Grand Rapids' former Fox Jewelers building (83 Monroe Center NW). Now the hotel has thrown wide the doors to The Ballroom @ CityFlatsHotel, its new 6,000-square-foot ballroom and event space next door in the former Michigan National Bank building (77 Monroe Center NW).

The ballroom was built in the 1920s, says Katie Madonio, CityFlatsHotel's marketing coordinator, when opulence was the order of the day.

"It already had the grand staircase, marble floors and columns, beautiful vaulted ceilings, and ornate woodwork," Madonio says. "We just wanted to repurpose the space, so we re-carpeted and painted it, plus installed a full chef's kitchen and new bathrooms."

The $500,000 upgrade includes a variable LED lighting system, a sound system and two mobile flat screen televisions for events that need audio/visual support.

Rental fees include tables, chairs and linens and run from $400 for a weekday event to $2,500 for a Saturday night during the spring-summer peak wedding season, Madonio says.

All food is prepared onsite and the catering menu offers options from simple appetizers to buffets to multi-course sit-down dinners for 225 with a full service staff.

"A banquet facility always complements a hotel very nicely," Madonio says. "Being right next door to the hotel, it was a really good step for us in our growth process to expand in the city. It coordinates nicely with what we're doing at the hotel."

For more information on reserving the ballroom for an event, click here.

Source: Katie Madonio, CityFlats Hotel
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Muskegon Museum of Art caps 100 years with vision for the future

The Muskegon Museum of Art is determined to continue its 100-year legacy of bringing fine art to West Michigan and the Midwest. To that end, the museum has launched the public phase of Muskegon County's largest capital campaign ever -- a $7.5 million effort to secure enough funding for the museum to build its endowment funds, establish several years of support for programming and exhibits, and to cover roof repairs and a new HVAC system for the museum's century-old building (296 W. Webster).

"This museum is perceived as a regional asset and is a testament to the people in the region who understand the value of art and an art community," says Executive Director Judith Hayner. "The Muskegon board of education's stewardship for 100 years has been nothing short of remarkable."

The museum hosts over 30,000 visitors a year and has 6,000 works of art dating from the 13th century to today, including American, European and African-American paintings and sculptures, plus a collection of contemporary studio glass. Nearly 120 pieces were donated for the 100th anniversary.

Hayner says the museum was the "first and only museum in America in a town of 30,000 or less built expressly to hold art" thanks to $150,000 Muskegon pioneer Charles Hackley provisioned in his will to buy "pictures of the best kind." In 1912, the school board decided to construct a place to house them. Since then, the Muskegon Museum of Art has been under the purview of the Muskegon Public Schools' Board of Education, which will end in 2014 when the museum becomes an independent nonprofit.

"The campaign is the center part of our planning (toward the separation) to make sure we have more resources underneath us going forward," Hayner says.

Thus far, the campaign has raised $5.72 million. To learn more about the fundraising campaign, click here.

Source: Judith Hayner, Muskegon Museum of Art
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Flourishing Coopersville technology company doubles size of its HQ

Since 2007, Coopersville-based IT Resource has grown from 10 employees to 22, and has additional job openings. That growth made it necessary for the 12-year-old company to expand its 3,100 square feet to over twice that size to accommodate more employee workspace.

IT Resource bought the building at 701 W. Randall in 2007, sharing the building with Spectrum Health's MMPC and Scott Robinson, DDS. When Spectrum moved out in January, IT Resource took over that 2,200 square feet, adding space for 12 employee cubicles, a full kitchen for employees and a window-lined employee rejuvenation space.

"We're still working on 400 square feet with wrap-around windows," says Leo Reap, co-owner with Gary Lutz. "It will have a sofa, loveseat, high top tables and a flat screen TV where employees can look outside or listen to music on their iPod. It may have exercise equipment -- it's kind of an open canvas right now because haven't gotten input from everybody on what they'd like to see in there."

Reap says the kitchen includes a stove with an oven, which has been a hit with employees who like to bake treats for the office or cook their lunch. He adds that employees who live close are encouraged to ride their bikes to work, so the company installed a shower for employees who want to freshen up after their ride.

IT Resource still looks to fill a senior level Cisco-certified voice over security engineer position, and Reap says the company is always looking for the best and brightest IT technicians.

The company plans an open house for October 11.

Construction and design: David C. Bos Homes.

Source: Leo Reap, IT Resource; Andrea Snyder, StudioThreeTwenty
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Microbrewery, $7M apartments nearing completion in Grand Rapids' entertainment district

The 10,000-square-foot Grand Rapids Brewing Company pub and microbrewery under construction is what passersby notice on the corner of Ionia Avenue SW and W. Fulton St. in downtown Grand Rapids. But sitting above on the fifth floor is the new 1-bedroom apartment model for the $7 million urban dwelling project that combines the buildings at 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW -- a project that's nearing its November 20 opening.

A walk through the buildings on a chilly September morning reveals dozens of workmen in hard hats unloading lumber, running electric lines and painting amid the din of hammers, saws and sanders. But inside the apartment model with its windows overlooking both Ionia and Fulton, it's quiet, tidy and sunny.

"All of the apartments have views over either Fulton Street, Ionia or the Van Andel Arena," says Monica Clark, director of community development for 616 Development, the developer of the apartment project. "I love the old-meets-new look. The old brick with the new granite up against it is awesome."

The two buildings, now combined by entryways through the common wall, will soon have 26 one- and two-bedroom loft apartments, all with higher end finishes like granite countertops and hardwood floors. Prices range from $1,000/mo. to $1,450/mo., and the apartments on the fourth floor of 7 Ionia will have two levels with a loft bedroom above.

"We own, manage and develop for ourselves," says 616 Development Owner Derek Coppess. "You take care of your own stuff the best. Urban living is coming back to where it was before people moved to the suburbs."

Coppess recently announced his plans to develop the historic Kendall Building on Monroe Center NE, his fourth Grand Rapids development, and says he's working on 269 Lofts in Kalamazoo.

The apartment model, staged by Stone's Throw Furniture, is open during ArtPrize. 616 Lofts is accepting lease applications now.

Coppess says the Grand Rapids Brewing Company, owned by Mark Sellers, is on schedule for a late fall opening.

Apartment design and construction: First Companies
Source: Derek Coppess and Monica Clark, 616 Lofts and 616 Development
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Planned $18M Baker Lofts could create 87 affordable apartments near Downtown Market

Dodging earthmovers, cranes and construction vehicles of all kinds is not an easy task these days at the corner of Logan and Ionia streets on Grand Rapids' southwest side. But that's what dozens of folks did for Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking for Baker Lofts, a proposed residential project that will invest $18 million in the renovation of the former Century Furniture/Baker Furniture warehouse at 40 Logan St. SW.

Construction of 87 affordable-rate apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail will begin in 2013, just kitty corner from the Logan/Ionia intersection where the Downtown Market is rising slowly on new brick walls. Elimination of "some environmental issues" is underway now, says Mike Jacobson of LC Companies, developer of the site.

Baker Lofts stretches new development in the city to south of Wealthy St. SW, an area that has been under-used with many buildings vacant and decaying for years.

"This was built by Century Furniture at the turn of the century, then they left for North Carolina," said Jacobson at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Then Schoonbeck [Furniture] occupied it and they left, then Baker."

And now, Jacobson says, the building will bring vitality and housing to an area that will bustle with activity when the Downtown Market opens -- an area that hasn't offered Grand Rapids new living spaces in many decades.

The apartments will range from 650 square feet to 1,200 square feet and will lease for $450 to $550/mo. for one-bedroom units, and $550 to $750/mo. for two-bedroom units. The developers expect the project to be LEED certified.

Apartments should be move-in ready by July 2013, says Jacobson.

Construction manager: Rockford Construction.
Source: Mike Jacobson, LC Companies, LLC; Tyler Lecceadone, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Jeff Hill, Publisher, Rapid Growth Media

Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority okays $36M apartment development in Heartside

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority approved the creation of a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) for the proposed construction of an estimated $36 million apartment development on the city's south side in Heartside.

The development, proposed for vacant properties at 205 S. Division Ave., 26 Cherry St. SW and 240 Ionia Ave. SW, is a new project by Midland-based Brookstone Capital, LLC, developers of millions of dollars in housing in Serrano Lofts, 101 S. Division, Metropolitan Park Apartments and other projects in Heartside.

Combined, the three new buildings could bring over 130 new affordable and market rate apartments to an area undergoing a surge of development.

"Eighty percent of the apartments are for people making 60 percent of the area median income -- they have to be bringing in a paycheck," says Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kristopher Larson. "It will be mixed income, with a market-rate component for 20 percent of the units."

Unlike zoning, which stays with the property and not the development project, the PILOT is approved for the property improvement project only, says Larson. The DDA and Grand Rapids City Commission both approved this pilot for 40 years at 205 S. Division Ave. and 26 Cherry St. SW, and 35 years at 240 Ionia Ave. SW.

Larson says the PILOT means that "instead of the new tax increment that would have been collected coming to us (the DDA), a large portion of it is abated to contribute to the operational costs in developing workforce housing."

The PILOT paves the way for Brookstone Capital, LLC to be part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Program. Brookstone also seeks State of Michigan Brownfield Tax Credits.

At press time, Brookstone Capital had not returned Rapid Growth's request for comment.

Source: Kristopher Larson, Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority; agenda packet information from Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority meeting of Sept. 12, 2012
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Finally, Grand Rapids' historic Kendall Building on $4M journey from crumbling to renewal

If Derek Coppess's plans work out, the regeneration of the dilapidated historic Kendall Building in downtown Grand Rapids will begin in 30 days -- a venture that could infuse a neglected, yet vital, corner of the downtown core with renewed vibrancy and energy.

The Kendall Building (16 Monroe Center Ave. NE) sits next to longtime business Reynolds & Sons Sporting Goods and overlooks the intersection of Fulton St. and Division Avenue. Coppess and his 616 Development plan to bring $3 million in new retail spaces, 12 market rate apartments, and his own company to the circa 1880 structure. This, in conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority's proposed renovation of the adjacent Monument Park, could continue the shift of one of the city's major gateways from desolate to thriving.

Coppess paid $750,000 for the five-story building.

"Placemaking is a real buzz word, and the beauty of making a place is to fill the places with people," Coppess says. "We think the upper floors have been vacant three to four decades; it's a little bit frozen in time."

He adds that, in addition to the recent construction of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and the creation of The Gallery Apartments, both at Fulton and Division, "MoDiv helped bring people further down Monroe Center. The Children's Museum is great, and if we get [Monument] Park done into a great new green space, and with the old JA Building across the street under the control of some really great developers (Locus Development), the energy coming in and out of our building will create a lot of energy and harmony on that corner."

Construction plans include a rooftop deck, a large media/gathering room in the basement (which has original brick floors), and re-use of many of the building's architectural elements. Those elements include iced-glass dental office doors with hand-painted signage on them, which will be reinvented as barn-style sliding doors for the apartments.

Architect: Lott3Metz
Construction manager: First Companies

Source: Derek Coppess, 616 Development; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Cherry Deli owner to open urban deli in Grand Rapids' Heartside "38" building

Scott Schulz, owner of Grand Rapids' Cherry Deli, has been working over a year to bring his unique recipe for a new deli to Heartside. The eatery, called Two Beards Deli, will open in 2,200 square feet on the main level of "38," the new liner building that fronts along Commerce Avenue SW and Weston St. SW.

The name "Two Beards" came about because both Schulz and deli general manager Chris Sommerfeldt have beards. The name started as a joke when brainstorming names with building owners John Green and Andy Winkel of Locus Development, Schulz says. "About a year later, they brought up the Two Beards name and we figured if they remembered it after a year, that it was pretty good."

The deli menu will feature about 100 sandwiches named after famous people with beards, like ZZ Top and Obi Wan Kenobi, and the décor will include wall images of the eight major styles of beards.

Schulz says the deli ventures into new territory by offering its first breakfast menu that includes breakfast paninis, oatmeal, yogurt and a coffee bar. The menu also features vegan and vegetarian options for both breakfast and lunch.

"The location has us pretty excited, because it's close to Van Andel Arena, lots of office workers, and the building itself has residents living here and people working in the building," Schulz says. "And Cooley Law and Aveda Institute [are] on the street." Schulz says the deli expects to work with Pyramid Scheme down the street, which doesn't offer food service.

Schulz says a planned Kickstarter campaign will help the restaurant raise funds to transform some of the Grand Rapids' ash trees that were cut down due to the Emerald Ash Borer into tabletops and chairs for the deli.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days.

Source: Scott Schulz, Two Beards Deli; Locus Development
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Build-your-own frozen yogurt sundae shop, Sweet Yo's, opens in downtown Grand Rapids

Sweet Yo's opened this week in downtown Grand Rapids, bringing the downtown area its first build-your-own frozen yogurt sundae shop featuring 18 frozen yogurt flavors and over 50 toppings.

Sweet Yo's (134 Monroe Center Ave. NW) is a sister shop to Sweet Yo's in East Grand Rapids (2180 Wealthy St. SE), which opened earlier this year. Husband and wife Mario and Lidia Piccione teamed up with Mario's sister Rosa Piccione to open the shop, and celebrated a ribbon cutting on Tuesday.

"We felt that the location across from Rosa Parks Circle was a perfect spot for what we're looking for," says Mario Piccione. "We're looking for more of a foot traffic business, and this fit our needs. The shop is just steps from popular eateries The Dog Pit and Angel's Thai Café and around the corner from Kilwin's Chocolates.

The self-serve aspect lets customers choose their flavor or a combination of flavors in a dish or a waffle bowl and add their toppings of choice. Price is calculated by weight, at 49 cents per ounce.

Sweet Yo's opened with frozen yogurt selections of key lime, espresso hazelnut, cake batter, peanut butter, blueberry cheesecake, fresh strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and two non-dairy sorbetto flavors: lemon and mango.

Toppings run a mouthwatering gamut from the standard chocolate, caramel and strawberry syrups and whipped cream to fresh fruit, Rice Krispies Treats, M & M's, Skittles and Reese's Pieces.

The Piccione family has a history of businesses in the Greater Grand Rapids area, including an experience with launching a 2009 startup in the downtown core, Lia Rose (40 Monroe Center Ave. NW), co-owned by Rosa Piccione. Rosa also owns Rosa's Closet (East Grand Rapids), and Mario and Lidia own Uccello's restaurant in Caledonia and co-own Uccello's in Grandville.

Sweet Yo's hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Mon. through Sun. during ArtPrize.

Source: Mario Piccione, Sweet Yo's; Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Long-awaited $5.2M Belknap housing projects launch pre-sales in anticipation of groundbreaking

A project that's been just a dream since about 2007 to bring new housing options to Grand Rapids' Belknap Lookout neighborhood is finally underway. Artesian Group, LLC, a developer located in the Belknap Lookout area (605 Livingston Ave. NE), announced plans this week to begin pre-sales of 13 new flats and townhomes slated to replace existing outdated rental housing stock on Fairview St. NE and Hastings Avenue NE.

The $5.2 million project includes Belknap Brownstones -- nine two- and three-bedroom apartments from 538 to 548 Fairview St. -- and four townhomes at 540 Fairview St. NE and 47-49 Hastings Ave. NE.

Grand Rapids real estate firm Griffin Properties will pre-sell a specified number of the units (six brownstones, one townhome per duplex) to enable Artesian Group to move forward on financing and then construction, says Artesian Group Owner Angel Gonzalez. Gonzalez says he hopes to begin construction on the brownstones and/or the townhomes by spring 2013.

"We think there's a new market out there for new housing in the downtown Grand Rapids urban core," Gonzalez says. "This is a good time for Belknap Lookout; we haven't had much of an identity and we want people to know we're here and we're an option."

The neighborhood is just a stone's throw from Spectrum Health Butterworth, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Grand Valley State University's Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, Van Andel Institute and the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion -- which employ thousands of medical workers, clinicians, medical researchers and instructors.  

Belknap Brownstones will be four buildings with a total of nine flats ranging in size from 1,100 square feet to 2,300 square feet. Upper flats will have rear balconies with the Lookout view of the city; lower flats will have large windows and doors opening to a back yard patio and common green space. The brownstones will replace three existing rental homes that have a total of six units.

The townhomes will offer higher end finishes, Gonzalez says, and the Hastings St. units will have a rooftop deck overlooking the city. "You'll have panoramic views and you'll feel like you're sitting on top of the city," Gonzalez says.

Plans for another residential project in the 600 and 700 blocks of Livingston Avenue NE are also in process, but Gonzalez says no details are set.

For more information on the residences, click here.

Source: Angel Gonzalez, Artesian Group, LLC; Griffin Properties
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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