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Dwelling Place to dedicate new $3.7M housing community for survivors of domestic violence

Deborah Johnson Wood

Dwelling Place has completed the $3.7 million renovation of a former temporary housing facility on Grand Rapids' West Side into permanent housing apartments for Kent County individuals who are homeless and survivors of domestic violence. Project leaders expect the two-story building to be LEED-certified at the Platinum level.

A dedication ceremony on February 10 officially opens the residences. The first occupants will move in by the end of the month.

The 16 one-bedroom apartments range in size from 530 square feet to 625 square feet, and two of the apartments are barrier free. An existing porch is now a three-season atrium that opens to a handicap accessible lighted courtyard.

Security cameras in each apartment allow residents to see who is at the outside door when someone rings their doorbell.

"This is a collaborative effort between Dwelling Place and the YWCA," says Jarrett DeWyse, director of housing development at Dwelling Place. "The YWCA is the premier agency that deals with domestic violence in our area.

"They are doing all the screening and all the recommendations for the housing and they'll be providing the services once the person is moved into the housing. It's permanent supportive housing so they can stay for as long as they're in compliance with the lease."

A support staff onsite coordinates services provided by the YWCA and computer and job training classes through Goodwill.

John LaPorte & Associates designed the renovation. Rockford Construction was the construction manager.

Due to the nature of the housing, Dwelling Place has requested that the media refrain from publishing the address of the building.

For more information about residency qualifications, please contact Andrea Jackson of the YWCA West Central Michigan at 616-459-4652.

Source: Jarrett DeWyse and Teresa Zbiciak, Dwelling Place

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Have a development news tip for Rapid Growth? Contact us at info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Free service for renters: new Grand Rapids firm matches renters with homes, condos for lease

Deborah Johnson Wood

Job losses and a struggling housing market are just a couple of the reasons a growing number of families are opting to lease a home or condo rather than buy one, says Kurt Seyferth, owner of The Home Rental Company LLC, a free home rental locater service in West Michigan.

Another reason is that people moving into an unfamiliar area often like to "try on" a neighborhood or city before buying.

Seyferth and his wife, Lyndsay, launched the business last fall from their Fulton Heights Neighborhood home with a focus on helping families find rental houses and condos that suit their needs. Kurt Seyferth, 33, is a licensed real estate broker with five years' experience in the mortgage industry.

"Renters fill out the form on the web site telling us what size house they need and the school district," Seyferth says. "We try to get back to them in 24 hours to get clarification on some things, such as if they are not realistic about the rents in the school districts they want." In a case like that, Seyferth may ask if they would choose a different school district or pay a higher rent.

Seyferth matches the renters with rental homes and condos in his database. If he doesn't have any that fit the criteria, he finds rentals on the Internet or by driving the desired neighborhood to find what they need. The service is free to renters; homeowners and landlords compensate Seyferth.

The company offers two contract options: exclusive, where Home Rental does all the advertising, handles the inquiries, showings and vets the credit applications; or non-exclusive, where the homeowner/landlord handles advertising and inquiries.

Source: Kurt Seyferth, The Home Rental Company LLC

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Have a development news tip for Rapid Growth? Contact us at info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Construction on Thirty-Eight in Grand Rapids clears milestones on its way to completion

The mixed-use development under construction at 38 Commerce has cleared some major milestones, according to the project manager leading the job for Pioneer Construction.

The $26 million project known simply as Thirty-Eight includes a $16 million LEED-certified building with 43 new residences, as well as commercial, retail and restaurant spaces, and an adjacent $10 million parking ramp.

Project manager Scott Veine says the construction team has completed topping out concrete for the Commerce Avenue side of the building and has started steel erection for the top two floors, as well as columns for the commercial space on the west end of the building.

Also complete is the framing out of all 35 apartments and eight condos, Veine says. Mechanical, engineering and plumbing systems are now being installed in those suites.

Locus Development is the owner and developer of the mixed use component. The attached city-owned parking deck provides parking for residents and patrons of Thirty-Eight. Veine says it is 100 percent erected in terms of precast for the deck, with pouring of floors now underway.

The parking decks are slated to be open and operational by December 15.

"By March 1, 2010, we’ll be completed with the [residences]," Veine says.

Veine also indicated that, even at this stage of the development, Thirty-Eight would meet LEED standards, an important goal of the project.

"If we would take everything on March 1 that we had on August 31, we would get a minimum of LEED certification, so we’re maintaining what our intent was as far as keeping it green."

Source: Scott Veine, Pioneer Construction; Locus Development

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Upgrades to Grand Rapids' Plaza Towers Apartments include private cinema

A new cinema has come to Grand Rapids, but it's only for the residents of the Plaza Towers Apartments. But the private cinema with leather recliners instead of theater seats, tiered risers, hook ups for game consoles and free DVD "rental" isn't the only thing that's changed in the high-rise building at 201 W. Fulton.

Upgrades to the lobby transformed it into a Euro-style entry that includes Italian tile flooring and complementary self-serve espresso for residents. In November, the elevators will sport new television monitors that will feature postings for events and happenings downtown, community announcements, and television news and sports shows.

"On the main level we upgraded a conference room to be a café/work room for residents," says
Grace Johnson, residential coordinator. It's equipped with wireless Internet access and a media screen.

"Off that room we created a patio area that looks onto Monroe Avenue," she adds. "We often have community parties that spill out into that area. There will be seating for that or residents can go downstairs and sit outside and watch people go by."

The second floor pool and fitness center were renovated to resemble a Mediterranean spa. Besides adding new workout equipment, the new amenities include a sauna in the women's locker room and a steam room in the men's.
"As residents move out, we'll be upgrading the vacated units," Johnson says. "Some can be customized for an extra cost, for example, a new tenant can request hardwood floors. And they'll all have Euro cabinets with granite countertops in the kitchen and bath."

Source: Grace Johnson, Lena Stob, Eenhoorn LLC

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

$854K in stimulus funds awarded for upgrades to apartments in Grand Rapids' Southtown

Adams Park Apartments are in line for improvements thanks to an $854,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Owned by the Grand Rapids Housing Commission, Adams Park Apartments offers 188 units to low income residents. Every apartment is occupied, but the circa 1960 building is in need of maintenance repairs, equipment upgrades and an improved fire and security system, says Carlos Sanchez, housing commission executive director.

"We'll be replacing windows, painting the interior halls and stairwell, replacing carpeting and upgrading the fire alarm system," Sanchez says. "The big ticket will be upgrading the fire alarm system for about $82,000, and another $56,000 for smoke detectors throughout building."

Other changes include new security cameras, a new roof and replacing outdated kitchen appliances in 100 of the units with energy efficient models.

M.C. Smith Associates and Architectural Group designed the renovation. A construction manager has not been selected.

Sanchez expects construction to begin the fall and last about 12 months.

Source: Carlos Sanchez, Grand Rapids Housing Commission

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Grand Rapids' Campau Commons resumes construction on $1.1M community center building

Construction on the $1.1 million Campau Commons Community Center has resumed after a nine-month stall.

After completing the $14 million reconstruction of Campau Commons, a low-income housing complex on Grand Rapids' South Division Avenue, construction on the community center stopped when the anticipated federal funding didn't come through. Now that the Grand Rapids Housing Commission has received the funding from the Department of Housing & Urban Development, the project is moving forward.

The 9,000-square-foot community center will house the Campau Commons' administrative offices, and will be a base for providing support services for residents.

"We do a lot of coordinating of human services through the rest of the community, and this will be a hub for them to have classes and meetings," says Carlos Sanchez, GRHC executive director. "And if Head Start's willing to come back, we will have a room available for them there."

Residents will be able to pay their rent, receive help with matters like credit counseling or job training, and can use the available community room for private gatherings and parties.

"Right now it's hard to have partners come in and meet with the residents because there's no place to meet (until the community center is completed)," Sanchez says. "The managers and staff are managing from our Sheldon site, so they don't have a lot of connection with the Campau residents."

Campau Commons offers 92 low-income family dwellings. Sanchez says all are occupied.

"We were committed to getting this project done," he says. "It's ten times better than what it used to be."

Source: Carlos Sanchez, Grand Rapids Housing Commission

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

LEED renovation of Grand Rapids home pairs Aquinas students with Habitat for Humanity

A new endeavor to gut and rehab an existing home in a Southwest Grand Rapids' neighborhood makes Aquinas College the first West Michigan college to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity project in its entirety.

Aquinas partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to renovate the 1940s dwelling at 721 Griggs SW as a LEED For Homes Total Gut-Rehab because the service project fits with the tenets of the school.

"One of the four Dominican charisms revolves around service and this is an opportunity to connect students, alumni and staff on a project that resonates with the charisms," says Greg McAleenan, Aquinas' vice president for institutional advancement. "Aquinas is the first college to offer a sustainable business degree and Habitat embraces the same values for sustainability."

One of the home's green features is Ultra Touch cotton insulation made from recycled denim. Product claims say the insulation contains no formaldehyde, is mold and mildew resistant and doesn't irritate skin. On Earth Day 2009, Aquinas students and staff donated 731 pounds of denim for recycling into insulation.

Bob Joslin and his daughter Tiara are both Aquinas alum and they plan to donate the insulation through their Comstock Park company, Cotton Insulation, says McAleenan.

McAleenan says Habitat gutted the home in preparation for the rebuild, and now students, staff and alumni are volunteering on-site to rebuild the interior, working toward a November 1 completion.

Aquinas committed to a $37,500 financial investment for the home. The college expects to raise the money through fundraising. A federal program will match the donation. Aquinas also seeks in-kind donations of materials.

The homebuyer family, Matthew Riak and Achol Kuir, work alongside the volunteers as part of their commitment to invest 300 to 500 hours of sweat equity in the home. Riak is a Lutheran minister and a former "Lost Boy" of Sudan. The couple is expecting their first child.

Source: Greg McAleenan, Aquinas College; Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
 aq dominican charisms
 ultra touch

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

$200K renovation transforms historic Zeeland mansion to period B&B

A renovated 19th Century French Italianate mansion has become Zeeland's first bed and breakfast. The Baert Baron Mansion Bed & Breakfast, 120 S. Church St., opened in July after owners Vic and Anna VanDeventer invested $200,000 transforming the 14-room manor house into a home away from home for visitors.

"It was built for others to enjoy over 100 years ago," Anna VanDeventer says. She and Vic purchased the mansion some 10 years ago after relocating to Zeeland from Southern Indiana five years earlier. "When we first moved to Zeeland, we said if we could ever own that home it would be a bed & breakfast."

New this fall at the mansion is Anna's Café, offering soups, salads, sandwiches, coffee and teas during lunchtime hours.

Dr. Daniel Baert built the home in 1872. The VanDeventers spent three years, 51 weeks and four days restoring all 5,000 square feet of the structure which includes four guest bedrooms with traditional Victorian décor, a dressing room, a large dining room, parlor, formal living room, a four seasons room, a library, and an attic redesigned as a suite. They also added a commercial kitchen and renovated the carriage house.

The mansion has the original woodwork. Restoration included refinishing the original floors, stenciling the ceilings with 1830s patterns and outfitting the bathrooms with claw foot tubs similar to the originals.

Although the historic ambience is the focal point, the VanDeventers didn't forget modern amenities such as wireless Internet access and the 1,700-square-foot patio where guests can relax and enjoy the newly-landscaped surroundings.

Source: Anna VanDeventer, Baert Baron Mansion Bed & Breakfast

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

$11M Downtown Muskegon condo development to open sales model with lake views

Developer Jon Rooks says downtown Muskegon's HighPoint Flats is halfway to opening the project's condominium model – a model with a view of Muskegon Lake and distant views of Lake Michigan.

Clifford Buck Construction Co.
is building the model on the sixth level of the circa 1916 Hackley Bank building, 285 W. Western. Each of the model's two bedrooms includes an en suite bathroom with double sinks and a large walk-in shower. A surprise twist: each shower has a showerhead with built-in colored lights that illuminate the shower spray in a variety of hues.

The living area includes a future window wall overlooking the two lakes and downtown Muskegon.

"The window opening will be the size of a two-stall garage door and will open out to a balcony," says Rooks. "That will be added when we do the full rehab of the entire building. We'll rip off sections of the exterior wall and replace them with glass and sliders to each of the balconies."

The model will be open by October.

The project proposes construction of 70 condos, split between the nine-floor main building and a two-story addition yet to be constructed.

The main building will have a shared rooftop deck and hot tub; optional rooftop decks with hot tubs are available to residents of both buildings.

"Benefits from the Michigan tax package allow residents 13 years, if they move in in 2010, to pay no city income taxes, no property taxes and no Michigan income taxes," Rooks says. "There will be a lot of people who live (at High Point Flats) who will pay their mortgage payment with the taxes they save and will live there for free."

Rooks estimates that the completed development will have a gross value of $11 million.

Serve Studio
is the architect. Tylor Devereaux is the interior designer.

Source: Jon Rooks, Parkland Properties

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Former convent to be Grand Rapids' first permanent housing for singles escaping domestic violence

The former St. James Catholic Church convent is on its way to becoming Bridge Street Place, Grand Rapids' first permanent transitional housing for singles escaping domestic violence.

Dwelling Place purchased the property at 761 Bridge in July after leasing it for 15 years as transitional housing for single women. The building's 21 single rooms with shared baths, a common kitchen and a shared living room will soon be 16 one-bedroom apartments.

"This is a new program that has not been done in Grand Rapids before," says Jarrett DeWyse, director of housing development. "The YWCA is the premier support agency for domestic violence victims and has accommodations for women with children, but there is a great need in our community for housing for single domestic violence survivors."

The apartments are categorized as permanent housing because there is no time limit for how long someone can live there – tenants only need to make their lease payments and meet certain lease criteria.

Rent runs $583 per month, but through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's rental assistance program tenants pay only 30 percent of their income.

Optional support services will be available to tenants, including counseling, job skills training, employment services, transportation and English as a second language classes.

The building will have secure card key access and 24-hour surveillance. DeWyse says tenants feel safer knowing only certain people can get in the building.

"We're working with a budget of $3.2 million (for the renovation)," DeWyse says. "We're using low income housing tax credits administered through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and the sale of those tax credits pays for about 50 percent of the development."

J. LaPorte & Associates P.C., is the architect. Rockford Construction is the construction manager.

Source: Jarrett DeWyse, Dwelling Place

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Veteran developer renovates marina/hotel complex on downtown Muskegon's waterfront

A 20-acre site along Muskegon's downtown waterfront is midway to becoming a conference center and resort under the guidance of longtime developer Jon Rooks of Parkland Properties.

The complex at 750 Terrace Point that houses Rafferty's Dockside Restaurant, The Shoreline Inn and Terrace Point Marina dropped back into Rooks' lap when a prospective buyer defaulted on the purchase. A deed in lieu foreclosure allowed Rooks to keep the inn and marina open, salvaging 21 jobs.

Proposed plans for Rafferty's Dockside Restaurant, now closed, could convert the existing space into a combination restaurant and conference center that could accommodate 365 people and offer catering services.

The 140-room Shoreline Inn has an indoor and an outdoor pool and three meeting rooms for groups of 16 to 70. Renovations include a rebuilt outdoor pool, a new convenience store, new phone system, wireless Internet access throughout the building and a proposed game room.

"The hotel was built in 2002 and is in fantastic shape. Our first step was to get a new general manager and new sales director," Rooks says.

"We've also put new piling in the marina, new dock boxes, and fixed the cable, the water lines and the power problems. This is my sixth marina renovation and I have owned a hotel, so all of this I've done before."

Completed renovations in the marina's clubhouse include an overhaul of the shower rooms, a kitchen remodel and the addition of a new laundry room and pool table.

Parkland Properties hopes to strike a deal with a restaurateur who would like to open a new eatery and catering business adjacent to the conference center. The remaining renovations on the complex will be completed in the next month.

Source: Jon Rooks, Parkland Properties

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Holland development’s first commercial tenant brings new renovations, $2M invested to-date

For the past year, Third Coast Development Partners has been doing behind-the-scenes renovations for a handful of tenants at the former Hart & Cooley industrial building just east of downtown Holland.

This summer, renovations are making their way to the forefront with the announcement of the development’s first commercial tenant, Tulip City Beauty College.

Third Coast acquired the 625,000-square-foot building in 2006, and Hart & Cooley moved out in 2008. The building, 500 Eighth Street, is intended for industrial and commercial space, which includes retail and office, says Dave Levitt, a partner with Third Coast Development.

“So far, the back side of the building was where the major construction was taking place, literally behind the scenes,” Levitt says. “Now we’re demonstrating the commercial [aspects] of the building.”

Last year, Charter House Innovations, which owns City Flats Hotel in downtown Holland, purchased a section of the building as non-commercial industrial space. Levitt says there are currently six tenants, including furniture maker Herman Miller Inc., which uses the space for warehousing.

Approximately 450,000 square feet of the building is occupied. Levitt estimates that Third Coast Development has invested roughly $2 million into the project so far.

Although Tulip City Beauty College will be the seventh tenant in the development, Levitt says the activity in renovating space for the beauty school is the first visible change to the front of the building.

“Now that the front is being renovated and changed, it’s bringing life to the Eighth Street side of the project,” he says.

In the near future, the developer hopes to have a sign identifying the building as the Federal Square Business Park, which pays homage to the neighborhood north of the project called the Federal District.

Source: Dave Levitt, Third Coast Development Partners LLC


Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


New downtown Grand Rapids restaurant specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine, quick eats for lunch

It's bustling at the corner of Monroe Center and Ottawa in downtown Grand Rapids and the owners of the new Parsley Mediterranean Grille hope that the busy-ness will drive sales.

Ruby Kaskorkis says he and his brother Zaid launched the restaurant in Grand Rapids rather than their hometown of West Bloomfield because "when you look at the downtown city of Grand Rapids, you can only see positives and only see the city growing."

Ruby, 27, and Zaid, 21, hail from an entrepreneurial family and operated a deli in their parents' West Bloomfield-based Middle Eastern market – the precursor to Parsley Mediterranean Grill.

Set up in a cafeteria style, the restaurant aims to serve healthy food quickly for downtown workers who need to get back to work. The menu includes both chicken and beef kebobs, kafka, skewered beef shawarma, grilled and sliced chicken shawarma, falafel and seafood. Meals come with a choice of salad and a choice of rice, French fries, hummus or baba ganoush. A typical entrée is $8.99.

The restaurant seats 52 inside and 16 in the Monroe Center sidewalk dining area.

"We will have delivery and catering from day one," says Ruby. "Fast, healthy and affordable is our slogan for this restaurant."

"We actually live in downtown, we moved a few weeks ago," he adds. "We rented a condo for a year and it's very close to the store. We're not familiar with the Grand Rapids area and being a block away from the store will get us pretty familiar with the downtown."

Parsley Mediterranean Grille will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Source: Ruby Kaskorkis, Parsley Mediterranean Grille; Ann Marie Bessette, Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


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