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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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