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Michigan's corporate construction continues to grow into 2019

The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Western Michigan Chapter (ABC WMC) presented its 2019 Construction Economic Forecast events on Tuesday, December 4. ABC’s national chief economist, Anirban Basu, spoke to more than 400 commercial construction professionals and community stakeholders in Kalamazoo and Hudsonville — a record attendance.

In a 2019 economic outlook published in Construction Executive magazine, Basu said, “U.S. economic performance has been brilliant of late. Sure, there has been a considerable volume of negativity regarding the propriety of tariffs, shifting immigration policy, etc., but the headline statistics make it clear that domestic economic performance is solid.”

Norm Brady, ABC WM’s president and CEO, agrees with Basu that 2019 should be a strong year for construction in West Michigan. Key indicators considered in the forecast include ABC’s data on construction backlog and the Architectural Billings Index.

“His predictions and my beliefs are founded on pretty good data,” Brady says. “Members are polled about the amount of backlog work. The latest national figures put this at 9.8 months. If the world stopped today, construction employers would have 9.8 months of work left to do. This is the highest since 2000. Architects are upstream from us. The amount of billing they produce is a good indicator of future construction activity.”

Brady notes that when the Architectural Billing Index is at or above 50, a positive construction outlook is predicted. Currently, the numbers are 54 nationally and 47 in the Midwest. He says that the strongest building sector is commercial lodging (a 50.2 percent increase), with foreign investment being a prime mover. He is hopeful that education will be a strong segment, as well.

“The segment that I am most interested in is education. A few months ago, Michigan repealed its 50-year-old prevailing wage law that contractors pay union scale rates on required state-funded projects like schools,” Brady says. “That drove up cost of construction on public schools. I’m hopeful that schools will be able to move projects ahead with prevailing wage being repealed.”

According to Indeed estimates of Construction Worker Salaries in Michigan, “The average salary for a Construction Worker is $14.67 per hour in Michigan, which meets the national average.” Employment numbers in the construction sector indicate a labor shortage may be a concern in the future. Other concerns post-2019 include rising materials costs and interest rates.

“We’re just coming off from a really strong 10-year period, especially the past seven years, where growth has been exceptional. The result might be somewhat of a slowdown. I don’t think there will be a recession but the growth rate that we’ve had is not going to be so robust in the years that follow,” Brady says. “The real story of construction is a story about great wages, opportunity, the pride that you have when you improve your community when you build a building. That’s our mission.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor

Photos courtesy Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Western Michigan Chapter

Mary Free Bed expansion makes rooms at "The Inn"

As the final phase of its $66.4 million expansion and renovation project, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital recently opened 10 additional new rooms at the Inn at Mary Free Bed, a lodging alternative that provides a practical solution to two challenges facing Mary Free Bed’s longer-term rehabilitation patients. One, the Inn provides a home away from home for their family members. Two, patients who no longer need nursing care, but aren’t ready to go home, can stay with their families at the Inn while they continue rehabilitation. In 2017, more than 3,700 people stayed at the Inn. Mary Free Bed plans on adding another six rooms to the Inn, for a total of 22 rooms.

“Ten years ago, we did pilot of six rooms to see if there was a need,” says Kent Riddle, CEO, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. “Many of our patients are from all over the state, as well as Indiana and Ohio. They stay here on average for two-and-a-half weeks—sometimes eight months. Families want to be here on campus, connected.”

Like a well-appointed hotel, the spacious, fully accessible suites not only have perks like flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet, and kitchenettes, they also provide universal access features such as seating and tables that raise and lower and open bathrooms featuring walk-in/roll-in showers with seats and grab bars. Also, accessible hallways connect the Inn to the Mary Free Bed Professional Building; an accessible skywalk connects lodgers to the main hospital and the Outpatient Therapy Center. Like a bed and breakfast, the Inn serves a complimentary continental breakfast every morning.

“The rooms are really decked out. They can accommodate every imaginable configuration of family members,” Riddle says. “For rehabilitation patients, moving to the Inn makes sense—lower costs, greater value. They continue to get their therapy every day and have access to a nurse and physicians.”

Riddle notes that having family members present supports patients’ recovery and rehabilitation. In addition, because many family members will take on the role of caregiver when their loved one comes home, they can attend therapy sessions and learn how to accomplish caregiving tasks—for example, helping transfer from wheelchair to bed at night.

“Having the family around motivates patients to work harder and get better faster,” Riddle says. “It’s also easy and convenient for families while they are going through one of the toughest times of their lives, too.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital


Celadon New Town developer puts energies, vision into new $6.5M East Grand Rapids development

The company behind Celadon New Town, a contemporary urban neighborhood development in northeast Grand Rapids, has begun construction on a project that will bring a penthouse, 10 townhomes, and a single-family home to the heart of East Grand Rapids.

Brad Rottschafer, owner of Mosaic Properties & Homes, has begun construction preparation for three new buildings where four rental houses once stood.

The buildings will consist of a three-story retail/office structure with a 2,000-square-foot penthouse, a 10-townhouse building with a central courtyard and private garages, and a two-story single-family home. The $6.5 million project, Croswell Mews, brings a new style of living to a desirable, walkable area close to restaurants, shopping, schools, and Reeds Lake -- a lifestyle that Rottschafer says has already attracted buyers.

"The live/work building is already sold," Rottschafer says, referring to the retail/office building with the penthouse. Although he declined to name the buyer, he says the owner will live in the penthouse and "is going to put his company in the building."

The single-family home and seven of the townhomes are already under contract, as well. The townhomes are each approx. 2,000 square feet with a garage and family room on the main level, living spaces on the second level, and three bedrooms on the third level. Prices range from $425,000 to $479,000.

"People want to be close to the grocery store, Starbucks, even the school for sporting events," he says. "There's a lot of energy in that downtown and people like that. (Croswell Mews) just adds to the conversation and the vision of what the city has for the community. I think it continues to build the core of the city as a very quaint, unique environment that draws people."

Rottschafer is quick to give credit for the momentum in East Grand Rapids' downtown to the new Gaslight Village created a few years back by Jade Pig Ventures.

"Building to the street, hiding the parking, making these areas walkable, that's the thing that brings energy to the area," he says. "When you revitalize an area, people want to walk and see what's there."
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Mosaic Properties & Homes

Renovated historic buildings bring $1M worth of apartments, office space to Grand Rapids' East Hills

A project begun last year to renovate a historic rooming house and a mid-century modern split-level in East Hills wraps up next month, bringing 16 modern apartments and 3,800 square feet of office space to the corner of Cherry St. and Eastern Avenue, a $1 million-plus endeavor.

The buildings, at 822 Cherry St. SE and 220 Eastern Ave. SE, are being developed by Malone Development, LLC. The two properties connect via an L-shaped parking lot behind both buildings, which will provide tenant and customer parking.

822 Cherry, a split-level brick building, was built for the Builders and Trade Association as a showcase for their skills in 1958, says Shayne Malone, principal of Malone Development. Its renovation added two 2-bedroom and two 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartments to the garden level, and 3,800 square feet of office space above. Baas Creative has leased 1,300 square feet of the office space, leaving 2,500 that can be leased as one unit or divided.

"This was a great opportunity to work on a mid-century modern building, especially considering the fact that in East Hills, the majority of the structures are very much older," Malone says. "We've had a ton of interest, and once the space is complete with the build-out we expect it to lease very quickly."

In the early 1900s, 220 Eastern was a boarding house for the streetcar operators, who used to park the streetcars out in front and used Wellington Avenue, a curved street that exits onto Eastern, as the turnaround, Malone says.

The three-story building now has 12 new apartments with original hardwood floors. The building required a major overhaul, including: new roof, new HVAC, new plumbing and electrical, drywall throughout, and insulation.

The apartments include 11 2-bedroom and one 1-bedroom, which will each rent at market rates.

"It's very important in a historic district like East Hills to remember that the architecture and planning designed over 100 years ago are what make the area unique and successful," Malone says. "Any new development needs to be in tune with that to enhance the framework that's already there."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Malone Development, LLC

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$28M Hampton Inn hotel to break ground, become first hotel on Grand Rapids' Medical Mile

Monday morning, the first hotel to come to Grand Rapids' Medical Mile breaks ground in Mid Towne Village.

A $28M Hampton Inn & Suites aims to bring 142 rooms to an area flanked by Spectrum Health, Women's Health Center of West Michigan, the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, the Van Andel Institute, and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Mt. Pleasant-based Lodgco Management will own and operate the hotel, with developers of Mid Towne Village, Third Coast Development, holding an interest in the property.

"We started acquiring property for Mid Towne Village in 2002 and always thought it was a great property for a hotel," says Third Coast Development Partner Dave Levitt. "We originally thought the Women's Health Center would be where the hotel is and the hotel would be where the Women's Health Center is. In 2007, when the economy tanked, we had a hotel partner and they bailed."

The hotel will rise from what's now a surface parking lot at 425 Dudley Place NE, directly behind El Barrio restaurant, and will include a 200-car parking deck with a five-story hotel on top. The indoor pool and outdoor terrace will overlook the city and Belknap-Lookout hill to the west. Other amenities include several suites of rooms, a workout facility, and meeting rooms.

"This is really a great sign for West Michigan's general economy, and for the Medical Mile," Levitt says. "If you take the hotel, and then you look at the project that 616 Development is doing at the old Duck's Restaurant property, and Third Coast's redevelopment of the Miller Zylstra building and property, it's all driving a lot of good stuff long-term for the redevelopment of Michigan St. You start to add in all that density of people 24 hours a day, it's going to drive demand for restaurants and bars and shops."

Levitt expects the hotel will open in late summer 2015 and will create over 30 full-time jobs.

Architectural design: Integrated Architecture
Construction manager: Pioneer Construction
Civil engineering: Holland Engineering

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Third Coast Development

East Grand Rapids townhomes completed, 16 dwellings increase density three-fold for shops, eateries

Orion Construction has completed the construction of Bagley Townhomes, 16 brick townhomes stretching from 727 to 797 Bagley Ave. SE, East Grand Rapids, and has handed the keys to the purchaser of the final unit, says Orion Real Estate Solutions President John Wheeler.

The project to demolish six single-family houses and replace them with two all-brick buildings containing eight townhomes each was approved by the East Grand Rapids planning commission in 2007, but construction couldn't begin until five years later due to the economic recession.

Today, with all 16 dwellings filled, more than three times the number of people live in that same block compared to the number of residents in 2007 -- potential customers living just a few steps from the quaint downtown and its eclectic mix of shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

"(The country) got a transient situation with the last recession," Wheeler says. "People want to stay in their neighborhoods where they raised their children, but they have large homes they don't need anymore. The new urbanism is a really big deal, to try to provide products where you don't always need to be in your car, where you can get some exercise, have some fun, and get to know your neighborhood better. (Cities) need to pave the way for good developers who have the vision for homes that could improve the city for everybody."

Wheeler says Orion Construction was involved with the project from the planning stage through handing off the finished final townhome to the owners after customizing the interiors.

"People get creative with their homes," Wheeler says. "You build to a generic specification, then the owners worked with interior designers to customize the interiors by moving walls and adding upgrades. Everybody had their own ideas of what was cool and we implemented many, many details like contemporary lighting in the high ceilings and high-end cabinets."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Orion Construction

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Holland to get first nationally recognized hotel downtown if $15.5m development plan proceeds

Downtown Holland could be getting its first national hotel, smack-dab in the middle of its bustling retail and restaurant district. Holland-based Suburban Inns announced that its latest endeavor will bring Courtyard by Marriott to a prime piece of vacant real estate at 121 E. 8th St., between Macatawa Bank and the summertime-fun splash pad.

The hotel will bring 140 guest rooms to the business district, and will attract a "new level of customers to Holland through the Marriott rewards program," says Suburban Inns COO Peter Beukema. "They conduct business during the week, and stay and vacation with their families."

Plans include an indoor pool, an indoor/outdoor hot tub, Marriott's The Bistro restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a Big E's Sports Grill that will serve 40 to 50 craft beers from around the Midwest.

The five-story building features balconies for all the rooms overlooking 8th St. and the splash pad, Beukema says, so families can enjoy special events from a bird's-eye view.

Beukema says he believes "Holland is one of the greatest downtowns for a parade, because the sound reverberates off the buildings. I said we have to have balconies so guests can see and experience things like the Tulip Time parades."

The project is working with the Holland Planning Commission on site plan approval. Beukema expects construction to begin this summer and the hotel to open in 2015.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Suburban Inns

Planned renovation of 820 Monroe NW into apartments, retail could generate $1.7M annual spending

The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate request (OPRE) regarding the proposed renovation of the former Sackner Products Plant into a residential and retail venue predicts the project could generate some $1.7 million in annual spending once it's completed and fully leased.

The proposed renovation by 616 Development includes converting the four-story circa 1924 building into 89 market rate apartments, plus ground floor retail and hospitality spaces.

The Monroe North Tax Increment Financing Authority approved the OPRE, freezing the tax value of the existing building plus any new tax increment revenues for 10 years, an estimated amount of $27,700 per year. After 10 years, the property could generate $115,000 per year in new tax revenues.

The project could run some $21.8 million and, says Chris Knape of SeyferthPR, spokesperson for 616 Development, "other incentives will be required that are pending. Start/completion dates will depend on timing of approval of the incentives and finalizing construction financing." Knape did not elaborate on what the other incentives are.

"There is an incredible amount of energy in the Monroe North neighborhood thanks to projects like the restoration of the Grand River and Michigan State University’s purchase of the former Grand Rapids Press properties," says Derek Coppess, owner of 616 Development, in a recent email. "We believe bringing a mixed-use 616 Lofts community to 820 Monroe will add to the vitality of the neighborhood while helping to meet strong demand for market-rate apartments downtown."

820 Monroe has been used as commercial space for a number of businesses, but as of the December OPRE request, the 156,000-square-foot building was only 50 percent occupied and had been certified by the city assessor as an obsolete facility.

Other projects by 616 Development revolve around apartment communities called 616 Lofts that are in historic buildings scattered throughout downtown Grand Rapids, including loft spaces above Flanagan's (Pearl St.), apartments above the Grand Rapids Brewing Co. (Ionia and Fulton), and apartments in the historic Kendall Building (Monroe Center NE).

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Renderings courtesy of 616 Development and Integrated Architecture

More development planned for open parcel next to Brewery Vivant in East Hills

A surface parking lot sandwiched between Brewery Vivant and Grove Restaurant on Cherry St. SE could be the next prime urban living location if developer David Green's vision moves forward.

Green, owner of development firm Archipelago Equities and a former real estate developer with DP Fox Ventures, plans to build a 16,000-square-foot mixed-use building with three condominiums, indoor parking, and retail space.

Green is the brother of John Green of Locus Development, the company that developed the entire parcel encompassing a former mansion, chapel, and funeral home into what is now Brewery Vivant, Maru Sushi, and Windsor Cottage.  

The main level of the four-story structure will have 1,500 square feet of retail space along Cherry St. SE, with an indoor parking entrance on the north side for condo owners. Three condos will occupy floors two, three, and four. Green and his wife will live in one of the condominiums.

"We are purchasing the land from an entity that includes myself, John Green and Andy Winkel, operating under Locus Development," David Green says. "Over the last two years, my wife and I have been exploring different living opportunities around town that are urban, and nothing really quite fit. We were out for dinner one night and I was reminded that we still had that lot. It's close to downtown, it's a great neighborhood, we love the shops, we love the restaurants, it's just got a great feel to it."

The project still has to land approvals from the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission, the city Planning Commission, and the neighborhood and business district stakeholders, Green says. The process should take several months of planning and meetings before work can begin.

Construction manager: Rockford Construction
Architect: Integrated Architecture

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Clark Place condominium sales success indicates demand for downtown Grand Rapids living

The quick sale of 19 of Clark Place's 22 condominiums since June is a good indicator of market demand for downtown Grand Rapids residential ownership, says Chris Beckering.

Beckering is director of business development for Pioneer Construction, the builder responsible for transforming a circa 1900 American Seating warehouse into a mixed-use center of residential spaces and commercial enterprises. He says the market was ripe last June when the company launched an initiative to convert 22 luxury apartments into condominiums.

"The success of the condo conversion proves that there is just incredible demand for downtown residential condos, particularly on the west side," Beckering says. "We've seen a strong demand and steady showings and have averaged a closing a week since mid-June. Thirty percent of our sales were to tenants who had been leasing in the building -- three times the average conversion rate."

Of the three condos still available, two are two-bedroom, two-bath units -- one of which is the fully furnished builder's model with an option to purchase the furnishings -- and a three-bedroom, four-bath unit. All 22 condos are on the top (fourth) floor. Prices of the remaining unit range from $189,900 to $329,900. Condo dues are about 18 cents per square foot.

Clark Place is a microcosm of lifestyles with singles, couples, and families, and a wide range of occupations that include sales managers, attorneys, small business owners, and psychologists.

In the early '30s, American Seating filmed an airplane landing on the building's roof to showcase the marvels of living in a modern age. View the video here.

To find out more about Clark Place living, click here.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Apartments, butcher shop, spirits tasting room, fitness center: the promising future of Michigan St.

Eight urban apartments, a butchery, a cozy tasting room filled with delectable spirits, and a personal fitness center have synergistically evolved out of what was once a decaying wasteland in the 800 block of Grand Rapids' Michigan Street NE.

The redevelopment of the two-acre parcel that includes the former Miller-Zeilstra Lumber building and a two-story brick warehouse has spurred much activity and anticipation that developers Third Coast Development Partners hope is a sign of what's to come.
The result of the yearlong renovation is yet to be revealed, but to-date all retail spaces are leased and under construction. Grand Butchers, Flat Landers Barstillery, and SNAP Fitness have all set sights on opening soon.

Grand Butchers, owned by Lacey Dryer, Margie Zichterman, and Tim VanDort, will offer grain-fed beef, organic and non-organic meats, a signature kielbasa, sausages, and a full line of marinades and rubs, including several made in-house. Fresh turkeys will be available for Thanksgiving orders soon.

"Michigan Street is booming right now and there's nothing like this around here," Dryer says. "We'll smoke our own meats and make our own jerky."

Both women worked for Bob's Butcher Block in Holland, but had set their sights on starting a butcher shop of their own. The day of Rapid Growth's visit, they were busy applying stain to the market displays while electricians worked in the kitchen area.

Next door, Matt Scarbrough of Flat Landers Barstillery was ready to begin construction of a wooden walkway that will lead customers into the tasting room area. The shop, owned by Scarbrough, Robert Grimes, Greg Palazollo, and Josh Brugger, will feature its own spirits produced and bottled by a distillery in Three Oaks, MI. Customers can try white whiskey, rum, vodka, and gin, plus Michigan craft beers and Michigan wines. A simple food menu will offer small plates and salads.

"Customers enter through the old warehouse's loading docks to the tasting bar," Scarbrough says, indicating the area where the wooden ramp leads to an as-yet-unfinished wrap-around bar in the center of the shop. About four feet below are the old truck wells, which will be a lounge area. Scarbrough hopes to open the first part of December.

SNAP Fitness will occupy the third and final retail space. Michigan Street Optical now occupies all of the 11,000-square-foot lumberyard building, and Lumber Yard Lofts has leased seven of the eight apartments in the warehouse.

"We had been looking at this property for years," says Brad Rosely of Third Coast Development Partners. "We leased all the space and didn't even put a sign up; people were calling us to lease the space."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Vacant buildings in booming East Hills to get $860K remake into apartments, office space

East Hills has become the place to live, work, invest, and shop, says East Hills Council of Neighbors Director Rachel Lee. Developer Shayne Malone agrees. Malone, principal of Malone Development, LLC, plans to invest $860,000 in two vacant buildings to bring fresh workspaces and urban apartments to the neighborhood by early 2014.

Malone is also a principal in Cherry Street Apartments, LLC, which purchased the buildings: a former Project Rehab building at 822 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids, and a former boarding house for streetcar operators, just around the corner at 220 Eastern Ave. SE.

822 Cherry will feature 4,800 square feet of office space on the main level with an original glass curtain wall, and four apartments below. Malone says he'll complete the build-out of the office space as soon as he has a tenant.

Plans for 220 Eastern include 12 new residential apartments with the original hardwood floors of the circa 1915 structure.

Both buildings are in a historic district. Malone says the Historic Preservation Commission has verbally okayed plans to update the facades in accordance with historic preservation guidelines, but he awaits the official signoff before beginning work.

"The renovations will maintain the historic feel of the buildings," Malone says. "I feel strongly about the existing and future potential of East Hills because it was a neighborhood that was developed for streetcars and is already set up to be walkable. There is a lot of architectural history that can be built upon, which provides a lot of value for what we have planned."

"We're excited to see developers that understand the historic character of the neighborhood as an amenity to want to invest in our neighborhood," Lee says. "We think providing office space here is a fabulous idea. There are so many places nearby to go for lunch or to shop. We think we're an ideal place for a creative team to not just work in the area, but to be a part of the area."

Project architect: DeStigter Architecture
Construction manager: Malone Development, LLC

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy of Malone Development, LLC

$40M high-rise apartments, retail to replace surface parking lot on Grand Rapids' busiest corner

A new $40 million high-rise apartment building and retail shops could soon replace an ugly parking lot on the corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street -- downtown Grand Rapids' busiest corner and gateway to the city and entertainment district.

Midland-based Brookstone Capital, the company behind the multi-million-dollar developments of Serrano Lofts, Division Park Avenue Apartments, Metropolitan Park Apartments, and others, has received Downtown Development Authority approval for a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to develop 108 new housing units in a 14-story tower at 20 E. Fulton, across from The Grand Rapids Children's Museum. Some 9,000 square feet of the ground floor will be available for retail.

The project will divide the units into 54 market-rate apartments and 54 affordable-rate apartments to bring a mix of incomes to the neighborhood without the social stigma of setting the affordable apartments aside in a separate building.

"Mixed-income developments and diversity are common elements in urban communities from coast to coast  -- New York, to Chicago, and Los Angeles," says Brookstone Capital in an email to Rapid Growth. "The community is served by integrating building design that does not distinguish market-rate units from affordable units by either appearance or amenities. Higher density developments offer the opportunity to attract retail/service businesses to locate within close proximity to the City Center, meeting [the needs of] a fast growing downtown population and its daytime workers."

Brookstone says the location is ideally situated on several transit routes, is just one block from a Bus Rapid Transit station, and is near the new bike lanes through the city center. The proposed building is just a short walk to restaurants, theaters, the library, the entertainment district, downtown employment, colleges, museums, and art galleries.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission and the Grand Rapids City Commission still need to approve the final plans before construction can commence. A groundbreaking date has not been set.

Architect: Progressive AE

Source: Brookstone Capital
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Image courtesy of Brookstone Capital and Progressive AE

Baker Lofts $18.5M rehab brings affordable living to vacant warehouse on Grand Rapids' SW side

A former furniture warehouse that many thought had seen its last days is a new, eco-friendly living space kitty-corner from Grand Rapids' new Downtown Market.

Baker Lofts (40 Logan St. SW), an $18.5 million renovation of the Baker Furniture warehouse, brings 87 affordable rate (lower income) apartments to an area serviced by two bus lines and in a region of the city once classified as a "food desert," prompting development of the Downtown Market. The project awaits LEED certification.

Mike Jacobson, president of LC Companies, LLC, developer of the project, says the 125,000-square-foot building began construction in September 2012 and has already leased three of the five floors. The fourth and fifth floors are still under construction and will be completed in a few weeks.

"We did a market study that told us the vacancy rate of affordable housing was basically zero in the central city," Jacobson says. "Our experience is that the building of housing runs in cycles with the economy -- in the mid-2000s people lost their homes, and turned to rental housing as the only housing they could have. There wasn't a lot of housing being built during that time, and construction of affordable housing in this market hasn't met the demand that's there. There really hasn't been, in eight or nine years, an increase in affordable housing. In that period, all that was built replaced what was being demolished or being rebuilt."

To-date, some 45 of the 65 residents in the building work in downtown Grand Rapids in restaurants and retail shops, says Jacobson.

Jacobson adds that, although he lives in Grand Rapids and practiced law here for 35 years, Baker Lofts is LC Companies, LLC's first venture into the Grand Rapids housing market. The firm develops only affordable rate housing and has focused its efforts in Muskegon, Traverse City, Petoskey, and Michigan's east side.

Rockford Construction: construction and construction management
Catalyst Partners: LEED consultants
Rebecca Smith Hoffman, Past Perfect: historic preservation consultant

Source: Mike Jacobson, LC Companies, LLC; Tyler Lecceadone, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of SeyferthPR

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New $25M hotel planned for Grand Rapids' Medical Mile clears another hurdle on way to reality

A new $25 million hotel proposed for Grand Rapids' Medical Mile has received approval from the City of Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, clearing another hurdle for the project.

Third Coast Development Partners owners Dave Levitt and Brad Rosely plan to erect the 140-plus-room hotel in what is now a surface parking lot adjacent to the Women's Health Center of West Michigan, part of the 16-acre Mid Towne Village (500 block, Michigan St.) developed by Third Coast Development Partners. The five-story hotel will sit atop a two-story parking structure that will be available for public use.

The hotel brand has not been determined yet, Rosely says.

The entire project includes a separate three-story, $6 million office building on the property. The proposed hotel and office building will bring the investment on the entire land parcel to some $70 million since development began in 2004.

"Our (hotel) clientele is not downtown convention traffic, but hospital users, like patients getting outpatient procedures or relatives coming into town to see new babies," Rosely says. "There will be a shuttle service to the hospitals, and will have a real nice feel to it like at Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic."

El Barrio Mexican Grill and The Omelette Shoppe, are both part of the mixed-use complex, while Urban Mill Café and Mr. Pizza are each just a short walk. Both Levitt and Rosely say the restaurants will benefit from the increased density created by the office building and the hotel.

Next steps are for the state to approve the brownfield tax credits, which should happen about August 1, with the hotel groundbreaking a few weeks after that. The hotel construction will take about a year. The office building construction will wrap up in early 2015.

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

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