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29 LEED Townhomes proposed for Grand Rapids' Madison Square neighborhood

Representatives from LINC Community Revitalization will go in front of the City of Grand Rapids April 14 to request approval for 29 townhomes in the city's Madison Square neighborhood.

LINC, formerly Lighthouse Communities, will present its plan for the modern multi-family units, which would be located on nine parcels on four streets near the intersection of Madison Avenue SE and Hall St. SE. The city has already approved development of a tenth parcel on Prospect SE.

The proposal is part of the community development organization's $10 million plan to develop 55 residential units in the area. An additional 21 units will be located at 413 Hall, in the planned Southtown Square mixed-use development.

The plan for the nine Madison Square units includes replacing aging multi-family buildings with the new, modern townhomes. Some of the structures that will be torn down are already vacant, while others are occupied.

LINC Co-Executive Director Jeremy DeRoo says current homeowners will not be displaced, but will have the option to move into the new units. Rent for the townhomes will retain the current rental rates of $500 to $725, and Section 8 assistance will be available to low-income tenants.

"The goal is to provide high quality, affordable housing in the neighborhood," says DeRoo.

All units will be LEED certified, with two to four bedrooms and at least two bathrooms. DeRoo says the project has been well received in the neighborhood, with a petition for the project garnering more than 120 signatures.

"The [housing] design is more modern than is typically seen in the area," says DeRoo. "There is room and a desire for improving the diversity of housing."

The first phase of construction, slated to begin in June, will involve tearing down three parcels that are contaminated and boarded up.

Source: Jeremy DeRoo, LINC Community Revitalization
Writer: Kelly Quintanilla

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Proposed homestyle breakfast restaurant to be only sit-down eatery in Grand Rapids' Madison Square

Grand Rapids' Madison Square business district at the corner of Madison Avenue SE and Hall St. SE could be on the verge of getting its only sit-down eatery, part of a coordinated response to neighborhood demand.

The proposed B & W Breakfast Bar could open in April as part of a $1.7 million renovation of a century-old storefront at 1167 Madison. The project, spearheaded by LINC Community Revitalization, Inc. (formerly Lighthouse Communities), includes LINC's Development Center containing administrative offices, a retail incubator, a co-working space and a community police station.

Robert Ball, owner of Grand Rapids' Southern Fish Fry and a partner in the new venture, will manage the restaurant, says spokesperson T. A. El Amin, a consultant on the project.

"We're aiming for a home-style place, kind of a combination of Waffle House and Cracker Barrel," El Amin says. "We're looking at breakfast and lunch to start, and we'd like to be open from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. If it goes well, we could add dinner hours, and if that goes well, it could become 24-hour."

El Amin says the focus will be a country-style breakfast and lunch menu with favorites like waffles, bacon and eggs, southern grits, and "a little bit of soul food," as well as heart healthy choices such as turkey sausage, fresh salads and homemade soups.

The 1,500-square-foot space will seat 40.

Attracting a sit-down restaurant to Madison Square is part of a broader push to fill gaps in the business district's offerings, an initiative that began with a neighborhood charrette in 2005.

"This is one of the fastest growing areas around and the region is well thought out and well planned, except for the core city," El Amin says. "If we can get something going in the neighborhoods around the core city, we're going to have something really great.

"The next generation will inherit whatever we do now," he adds. "We'll teach them how to grow it and expand it and there'll be no stopping us with what we can accomplish."

Source: T. A. El Amin, El Amin Associates; LINC Community Revitalization, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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$5.5M LEED housing, commercial development proposed to spur growth in Grand Rapids' Southtown

Five years ago a neighborhood charrette called for the creation of quality housing and commercial development in Grand Rapids' Madison Square business district, part of a greater Southtown objective that includes revitalization of business districts at Franklin and Hall streets and S. Division Avenue.

Now, after tens of millions of dollars in public and private investments in infrastructure, streets and lighting, new townhomes, commercial spaces, and the Lighthouse Communities Development Center (1167 Madison Ave. SE), nonprofit Lighthouse Communities, Inc. plans to continue the vision with Southtown Square, a proposed $5.5 million LEED-certified development.

Lighthouse has an option to buy the former TJ's Appliance Store (413 Hall St. SE), across from Duthler's Family Foods. The plan is to raze it and construct a four-story mixed use building with 6,600 square feet of commercial space on the main level and 21 affordable-rate apartments above.

"What makes this exciting is that it's not a stand-alone project, but it's connected to the development of the entire neighborhood," says Jeremy DeRoo, Lighthouse co-director with Darel Ross.

"We will have approximately 20 percent of each new commercial development devoted as incubator space for startup retail or services businesses that can function within the district long-term," Ross adds.

The incubators include access to free or discounted business services such as attorneys, insurance agents and accountants, and qualify for training and business plan development through Lighthouse Communities, Ross says.

"We will close on the property once the state approves our application for low-income housing tax credits, which represent over 50 percent of the funding," DeRoo says. "I'm hopeful those will be approved within the next 30 days. If we're not selected, there will be another round for applications and we'll move up the line for approval."

DeRoo says Lighthouse has applied for Brownfield Redevelopment tax credits for remediation of chemical contaminants from a former dry cleaner on the property.

The architect for the project is Grand Rapids-based Isaac V. Norris & Associates.

Source: Jeremy DeRoo and Darel Ross, Lighthouse Communities, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Lighthouse Communities' $1.7M development center brings co-working to Grand Rapids' Madison Square

Madison Square's first co-working environment is under construction and owner Lighthouse Communities hopes it will not only bring professionals to the neighborhood, but will show those already in the neighborhood they don't have to go elsewhere to be part of a collaborative workspace.

Lighthouse Communities broke ground on the rehab of a vacant building at 1167 Madison Ave. SE with the vision to renovate and expand the building into new office space for the nonprofit on the second story and several retail incubators on the main level. That idea shifted when Lighthouse decided to provide incubator space in each future commercial development and another 7,000 square feet of proposed incubator space at a planned development at the nearby T.J. Appliance building.

That left room to retain a couple of incubator spaces and develop a co-working environment in the rest of the main level, says Co-director Darel Ross.

"We'll have wireless access, video conferencing, individual work stations and modular furniture for small group meetings, plus a private conference room for rent," Ross says. "The WorkBar Boston in Boston, Mass. is the feel we're shooting for with our 100-year-old building. We'll keep the original wood floors and the exposed brick, but make it really modern, urban and chic."

To help develop its economic development vision throughout Kent County, Lighthouse hired Jorge Gonzalez to fill a new position as economic development director. Gonzalez speaks Spanish and English and is the current president of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Lighthouse just completed wrapping the building's foundation in a protective membrane with a ventilation system to prevent chemical contamination from a former Laundromat from affecting the new development center. The co-working center will be operational by May 2011.

Source: Darel Ross, Lighthouse Communities
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Madison Square Church undertakes $1.3M renovation of former caster shop

Deborah Johnson Wood

Grand Rapids' Madison Square Church is in the throes of renovating a $1.3 million former caster factory into a space where its youth group can give musical and dramatic performances and spend time socializing in a casual, Christian environment.

The building at 1401 Madison Ave. SE, dubbed Madison Place, is just a few doors north of the church. Communications Manager Bill Wiarda says the undertaking is in answer to God's call for the church community to take the gospel to the city.

"Our pastor David Beelen took a sabbatical in 2006 to do some planning, and when he came back, we developed this idea we call Making Room – New Faces, New Places to meet people where they are. There was a lot of redevelopment and revitalization in the neighborhood at that time, so we bought the building."

Volunteers from the congregation worked together to demolish parts of the interior. Wiarda says that once construction is finished, the 8,500-square-foot main level will feature a multipurpose room complete with a stage, sound system, lighting and projection for the youth group; a game room; offices for the youth department; and a kitchen that will supplement the full service kitchen in the church, when needed.

A food pantry, currently housed at Restorers, Inc., 1413 Madison Ave. SE, will have a dedicated space with greater food storage capacity, freezers and refrigerators and direct access from outside.

One surprising feature is a planned woodworking shop for the church's Cadets group of fourth through sixth grade boys.

"They meet once a week to do woodworking projects," Wiarda says. "Right now they meet in the church office basement, which is really cramped. The new space will have equipment and improved ventilation."

Source: Bill Wiarda, Madison Square Church

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

GR's Lighthouse Communities launches on-location retail incubators in neighborhood business district

Deborah Johnson Wood

These aren't your ordinary business incubators: small spaces gathered in one building. These are full storefronts available in three Grand Rapids' neighborhood business districts for below-market lease rates. And they come with free accounting, legal and marketing support, business training and business plan development.

"What we're doing is creating a 'scattered site' incubator model," says Darel Ross, president of Lighthouse Communities, the nonprofit behind the idea. Lighthouse is the developer behind the proposed Lighthouse Development Center that will house six retail incubator spaces.

"We thought, what can we do, not just in an incubator property but throughout all our commercial properties, using the properties as a tool for economic development in the neighborhood business districts," Ross says. "We found as we filled our business incubator (Development Center) there was a demand for flexibility and affordable space. The need was larger than what we could deliver."

Urban Pizza, a take and bake pizzeria owned by Malika Pimpleton, is the first business in the new incubator model. Her retail space in the new Uptown Village building, 950 Wealthy, Grand Rapids is slated to open by April 1.

"Lighthouse pays for her first four months' rent so he can use that money to do her build-out," Ross says. That, along with 12 months of subsidized rent allows the owner 16 months to build clientele, and to get her accounting, legal and marketing needs in order.

Lighthouse has commercial properties in three neighborhood business districts – Madison Square, Wealthy Street and Grandville Avenue – and plans to roll out the new incubator program in all three areas.

"If we can take away some of the expenses and surround you with support, we know you have a legal entity that's best for your business, a solid business plan, and you're working with an accountant all from day one," Ross says. "That makes the neighborhood business districts stronger and lets the business owner concentrate on the business, instead of worrying about overhead and rent."

Source: Darel Ross, Lighthouse Communities

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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.cominfo@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Madison Square business incubator has community backing for $1.7M project

Deborah Johnson Wood

Converting a century-old building on the corner of Madison Avenue SE and Hall Street SE into a business incubator, nonprofit offices and restaurant will cost about $1.7 million. But Grand Rapids' Lighthouse Communities isn't worried – the nonprofit community development corporation has already received $500,000 in federal and state funding, another $1 million from local foundations and brownfield tax credits, and Huntington Bank has guaranteed the rest.

The two-story building at 1167 Madison SE has been in foreclosure twice in the last decade, says Jeremy DeRoo, Lighthouse executive director. But after internal demolition, some shoring up of weakened structural points and the removal of a decrepit addition, construction will commence after the state environmental impact review in late March.

"We'll have six business incubator spaces to help entrepreneurs open a business for less than market rate," DeRoo says. "We are expecting to attract primarily retail business because of the location, but not limiting it to retail tenants."

The spaces range from 500 to 800 square feet, and are wired for phone and Internet. Rent starts at $250 a month. Startups can lease the spaces for up to three years to establish clientele, and to use the support services offered, such as networking opportunities, business roundtables and to build relationships with banks, accountants, attorneys and other professionals.

"When they're ready to move out, we'll help them locate space in the neighborhood," DeRoo says. "The goal is to increase the quality of services available to the neighborhood through the businesses in this incubator space."

Lighthouse Communities, now at 1422 Madison, will relocate to the second floor area, doubling its office space. About half of the 5,000-square-foot space will be community meeting rooms.

A 1,500-square-foot addition to be built on the north side of the building will house a breakfast restaurant on the main level, owned and operated by Robert Ball, owner of Southern Fish Fry.

"We expect to open with at least 35 full-time jobs within the building," DeRoo says, "so it's a great job creation opportunity that will continue to create opportunities for the neighborhood."

Source: Jeremy DeRoo, Lighthouse Communities

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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.

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120 Madison Square Articles | Page: | Show All
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