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Creative Youth Center keeps writing, reading, and books alive at former Literary Life Bookstore

It seems fitting that a young nonprofit dedicated to helping children find their literary voice would occupy the same space as a former bookstore -- a space where the muse was, and is, nurtured and called upon for inspiration.

That's what's happening with the Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center (CYC), an after-school program dedicated to helping kids aged 6 to 16 learn to write and publish fiction, plays, screenplays, poetry, and all manner of creative literature. The former Literary Life Bookstore at 758 Wealthy St. SE is the new home of the venture begun by Schuler Books & Music owner Cecile Fehsenfeld and CYC Executive Director Lori Slager.

"We left the fireplace in place, and brought in furniture," Slager says. "We want an inspiring space for the kids to come and work, a place that's not institutional after being in school all day. We have a theme of 'adventure,' sort of an Indiana Jones explorer adventure theme. We made hot air balloons from paper lanterns hanging all over. We want them to think about traveling, exploring, and discovering new things."

The Creative Youth Center offers free, age-specific writing classes taught by experienced writers, playwrights, and others in the writing arts and publishing industry. Slager says future plans include a small bookstore that sells the CYC's own books, written by students, and other items.

The store will be named Captain H. Tanny's Adventure Trade & Supply after the organization's elusive adventurer and world-traveling mascot, Captain H. Tanny.

"Captain H. Tanny is gender-neutral and open to kids' interpretations," Slager says. "We never show a picture of the captain. The captain's is always traveling and when people we know are off traveling, we have them send a postcard from the captain from wherever they are."

The first summer classes to be offered in the new location are for high school-aged kids -- one is on the spoken word and will be taught by Grand Rapids poet Azizi Jasper; the other is about screenwriting and will coordinate with the Mosaic Film Experience 2013.

Source: Lori Slager, Creative Youth Center
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images by Lisa Beth Anderson

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Grand Haven to invest $700K from state for trees, streetscapes to raise downtown's profile

Grand Haven's business leaders say too many people think the strip of businesses along US-31 make up the entire shopping and dining opportunities in town. But businesses in the traditional downtown area of this busy summer hotspot have an idea that could change all that.

Grand Haven was one of nine Michigan communities to receive part of a nearly $4.5 million Downtown Infrastructure Grant pot from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Michigan Strategic Fund.

The grant of $711,449, plus matching local funds of nearly $250,000, puts about $1 million in the city's hands for this project.

"I've heard the comment that some people think US-31 is the downtown," says Assistant City Manager Sam Janson. "We need to let people know where our business districts in the city are. (The planned improvements) will help visibly identify our community to those who are passing through. The goal is for people to want to stop here and spend some time here. And it will help us attract people who are interested in developing or opening a business."

The project will run along Washington St. from Beacon Boulevard (US-31) west to the railroad tracks. One of the most important aspects of the project is to create visible, inviting gateways that direct people to the downtown business district. Janson says the design and placement locations have not been decided.

Streetscape improvements will include planting 30 trees, new light poles, sidewalks, and benches, plus a Harbor Transit bus stop. Underground work will add new utilities and water lines, plus stormwater catch basins that will allow the sandy ground to absorb the stormwater rather than sending it into Lake Michigan.

Engineering services: FTC&H
Landscape design and services: Johnson Hill Land Ethics Studio

Source: Sam Janson, City of Grand Haven
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Not your grandparents' library; thousands get exciting peek at $65M GVSU Mary Idema Pew Library

With its four-story glass walled atrium, a cafeteria and coffee bar, and state-of-the-art learning pods, the future Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on Grand Valley State University's Allendale campus is not your grandparents' hushed library.

Over 2,000 students and media braved winds and pouring rain on April 17 for an exciting sneak peek at the 150,000-square-foot eco-friendly facility. Excited shouts of "woohoo!" and "yes!" could be heard as students entered the atrium space, mobile phones raised high to capture the moment on camera. One student was overheard saying, "Going to the library just got cool."

The $65 million library, which connects to the Kirkhof Center, will serve GVSU's 25,000 students, offering 150,000 shelved books and 600,000 library items accessible using an automated retrieval system.

But the offerings incorporate more than just reading materials. An innovative Knowledge Market will allow students access to expertise in research, writing, public presentations, and technology through other students who are specially trained as peer consultants.

"The state librarian is looking at our Knowledge Market as a model for other libraries," says Lee Van Orsdel, dean of Grand Valley’s University Libraries. "This concept is a first in academic libraries. We don't know anywhere else where learning is so fully integrated."

The library also includes private study areas, a student art gallery with glass walls, private presentation pods with audio/video technology, and upper-floor views over the campus.

The project is on track for the highest LEED certification, according to architects Tod Stevens and Janice Suchan of SHW Group, and will use half the energy of traditional buildings of similar size.

The library will open at the end of June.

Design: SHW Group
Civil engineers: FTC&H
Construction: Pioneer Construction

Source: Lee Van Orsdel, Grand Valley State University; Tod Stevens and Janice Suchan, SHW Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Proposed taquería just a matter of time for abandoned Wealthy St. gas station

Renovation of a long-vacant gas station at Wealthy St. SE and Henry St. SE into a proposed taquería could be moving forward soon. Recently erected construction fence surrounds the property owned by Winchester on Wealthy/Hidden Pearl LLC, implying that preparations are moving forward.

Paul Lee, owner of The Winchester restaurant (648 Wealthy St. SE) nearby, says preliminary approvals by the Grand Rapids Board of Zoning Appeals, Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission, and Grand Rapids Planning Commission are in place, and construction awaits only the needed permits before breaking ground. Lee adds that the restaurant could open in July or August, but declined further comment.

On Oct. 11, 2012, the planning commission approved a proposal to waive the on-site parking requirements for the building, paving the way for construction of an addition that will more than double the size of the existing gas station and include an outdoor seating area. At that meeting, Lee and Ted Lott of Lott3Metz Architecture said the project has support from the neighborhood and area businesses. Lee also stated he would seek a liquor license for the new eatery.

Also mentioned was a seating capacity for 129, which includes approximately 40-60 outside seats and a patio with landscaping.

Lee says his family acquired the property about a year ago and he believes the old gasoline holding tanks were removed in the 1980s.

Source: Paul Lee, The Winchester; Grand Rapids Planning Commission meeting and minutes of Oct. 11, 2012
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

$10M concourse upgrades, West Michigan beers, new security checkpoints planned for Ford Airport

Changes are in the air for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, including plans for a $10 million expansion to accommodate new airline services, creating a single security checkpoint, and new retail and concessions that promote products and brands unique to West Michigan.

One of those products is Kalamazoo-based Bell's Brewery. A new Great Lakes Tap Room will replace the current Home Turf pub at the airport, offering Bell's craft brews, says airport Executive Director Brian Ryks. Ryks says concessions operator HMSHost has contracted with Bell's and is working to engage other local microbreweries to get their products into other areas of the terminal.

"We wanted to bring more local and regional aspects into our environment, so when people land or fly out they recognize Grand Rapids and the region and what it has to offer," Ryks says. "Once we get the new checkpoint built in the next three or four years, then we'll put out other RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to bid on opportunities to create branding for new concessions opportunities in the concourses."

The new concessions are part of the concourse expansion plans, which include adding two more gates to Concourse B -- one to serve Southwest Airlines, which begins service in August, and another gate that will accommodate future growth. Concourse A will see some upgrades, and the separate security checkpoints for each concourse will eventually be consolidated into one large checkpoint area where the current retail travel store is now. Construction on the security checkpoint begins in late 2014 or early 2015.

A new partnership between HMSHost and Grand Rapids Magazine brands the retail store as the Grand Rapids Magazine Travel Retail Store and includes products from Schuler's Books and Music. Renovation of the current store begins this summer. The store will relocate when the security checkpoint consolidation begins.

Source: Brian Ryks, Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Raad's Mediterranean Grill brings fresh-made family recipes from Lebanon to Grand Rapids' East Hills

A new Mediterranean restaurant wants to be your go-to place for freshly prepared recipes straight from Lebanon. The Raad family's authentic Greek and Lebanese cuisine has been tested and tasted at the family's first restaurant, Mediterranean Grills (6250 28th St. SE), for the past 10 years. Now they've opened Raad's Mediterranean Grill (962 Cherry St. SE) in East Hills in the former Bloom restaurant space.

Restaurant Manager Ashtin Raad, son of owners Linda Akkari and Ashtin Raad, Sr., says the extensive menu includes meat lovers, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings.

"There are a lot of vegans and gluten-free diets in this area, and so we're creating a lot of those dishes," Raad says. "All of them are recipes from my mom and grandma. They recreated the best recipes for made-to-order foods at a fast pace."

The menu offers Greek gyros, salads, vegan plates, vegan desserts, traditional kabobs of lamb,  chicken, or beef, raw kibbeh, falafel, stuffed grapes leaves, shawarma, and more. Prices range from about $3 to $19.99.

Raad says the dining room needed just a small facelift to give it a Mediterranean feel.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The eatery also offers delivery to any place within one mile of the restaurant.

Source: Ashtin Raad, Raad's Mediterranean Grill
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Shared workspace on Grand Rapids' West Side links Lucid Group, Holland Litho, Boxboom Creative

A small unassuming building at 900 Muskegon Ave. NW is hardly the place one would think great creativity happens, but the olive green-painted brick belies what takes place inside.

Sunshine streams through two walls of storefront windows, brightening the contemporary décor where three companies build their own businesses, plus collaborate on client projects.

Lucid Group's Rick Overway and Matt Wish, Holland Litho sales rep Paul Soltysiak, and Boxboom Creative's Julie Lankes have staked their claims, each in their own far corner of Lucid Group's showroom, desks facing the center, leaving plenty of space in the middle for a meeting of the minds.

Lucid Group specializes in trade show displays and permanent branding installations, like the Welcome Wall at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Holland Litho offers printing services from brochures to bindery services and more. Boxboom Creative is Julie Lankes's graphic design and marketing firm.

Overway, who bought the building in 2010, worked there alone for several months, using the space as a showroom for his trade show displays. "I've always had the idea this type of collaboration would be beneficial," he says. "I wanted the kind of a place where clients could come and get a lot of different things taken care of without having to go to an advertising agency."

As with many collaborations, the connections at 900 Muskegon happened organically. One by one, the other three moved into the space. Besides working and creating, they use the location for occasional casual "happy hour" gatherings of business associates. A brightly colored conference room in the back provides room for meetings and private consultations.

"Not everyone we work with works with the others here," Soltysiak says, "but it's great for the people who do want all these resources."

All four say the most valuable aspect of the arrangement is how quickly their networking circles expanded.

"My husband and I moved here from Chicago, and I kind of had to start my business over," Lankes says. "These guys are connected to different groups and I can go with them and meet people."

Source: Rick Overway and Matt Wish, Lucid Group; Paul Soltysiak, Holland Litho; Julie Lankes, Boxboom Creative
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

OST expands collaborative workspace; attracts employees, clients to Grand Rapids' growing West Side

A 5,000-square-foot expansion within the historic Drueke Company warehouse (605 Seward Ave. NW) is spurring a lot of activity on Grand Rapids' West Side, an area of town enjoying a surge of development.

OST (Open Systems Technologies) recently expanded its operations into space adjoining its existing 15,000-square-foot offices.

Lofty 18-ft. ceilings, expanses of canary yellow walls tempered with gray and black, and a number of huge flat screen TVs surround 34 "benching" (collaborative) work areas dotted with laptops and flat screen monitors. Small four-person conference rooms line one wall. Over a dozen IT developers work quietly in groups of four or five, some glance occasionally at the sports news on TV; another three developers work alone, wearing earbuds.

"Technology is transforming quickly and, as our clients become more sophisticated, they're asking to be more innovative and connected with their clients," says Meredith Bronk, COO. "There is a lot of collaboration, and a lot of team orientation, so creating a space that really fostered the absolute advantage was just an opportunity we couldn't pass up."

Marketing Manager Mike Lomonaco adds that many client groups, including several from client Johnson Controls, call OST home.

"How many other businesses have their clients working in their space?" Lomonaco asks. "We could do conference calls, but the quality of the solutions is so much better and we develop relationships."

In 2010, OST had 49 employees; today there are 114, plus 60 contract employees. Ten new employees have come aboard recently. The result of this influx of employees, clients, and client teams means West Side restaurants, pubs, and the nearby Fifth Street Hall have new customers.

"If we can be a part of that resurgence that Bob Israels started several years ago, and if we can be a part of extending that vision," Lomonaco says, "that's what we want to do."

Source: Meredith Bronk, Mike Lomonaco, OST
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

22 West Side condos positioned for fast sale to meet "exploding demand" for downtown living

The transformation of a former brick and concrete warehouse into American Seating Park's Clark Place (801 Broadway NW) happened half a dozen or so years ago, bringing a mix of office spaces and luxury apartments to Grand Rapids' West Side.

Real estate broker Brad Veneklase says high demand for home ownership in the urban core and a lack of supply means the time is ripe to convert Clark Place's 22 apartments to condominiums.

The 22 units, all on the top (4th) floor of the building, are occupied. Purchase options have been offered to the current residents, Veneklase says. Two condos are sold, another two under consideration, and anything not spoken for by May 1 will go on the market.

Each unit has 13-ft. ceilings, all-concrete construction, exposed brick walls, stainless steel appliances, and hook-ups for full-sized washers and dryers. Units range from one bedroom, one bath for $129,900 to four bedrooms, four baths for $380,000. Veneklase says most of the units have two bedrooms, two baths with an average price of $187,000.

"At $113 per square foot, the price is well below the construction costs," Veneklase says. "The average price per square foot for a downtown condo is $154.

"Demand for (residential) ownership downtown is exploding," he adds. "There is very, very limited residential real estate for purchase in downtown Grand Rapids right now, and what's there is 99 percent occupied and functionally full."

Eleven of the Clark Place units overlook downtown to the south, the other 11 overlook the outdoor amphitheater area to the north.  

Veneklase says one unit has a library wall with a rolling ladder, two have wet bars, one has two-story ceilings with a small loft, and a couple are corner units with views in two directions. All have parking garages.

A condo model is open for viewing. For more information or to arrange a viewing, click here.

Source: Brad Veneklase, Clark Place Condominium Sales
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids' $30M Downtown Market announces new artisan bakery as latest tenant

Grand Rapids' $30 million Downtown Market announced this week that a high-end artisan bakery is its sixth tenant in the year-round Market Hall.

Field & Fire, owned and operated by Shelby Kibler, a former baker and developer of Ann Arbor's popular Zingerman's, will occupy 1,500 square feet in one of 24 indoor vendor stalls in what will be West Michigan's premier fresh food and culinary venue. The Downtown Market will open this summer at 435 Ionia Ave. SW with vendors in place. Market officials indicate restaurants, pubs, a cooking school, a greenhouse, an outdoor farmers market, and much more will follow.

Kibler plans to offer market visitors organic breads, croissants, gougere made with cheese and black pepper, flatbreads, pizzas, and savory baked goods made onsite daily in wood-fired ovens. All items will be prepared from locally sourced ingredients.

Kibler, a Stanton, Mich. native, lives in Ann Arbor and will relocate his family to Grand Rapids to be close to the bakery.

"I've thought for years that Grand Rapids was a market that was underserved for the high quality artisan breads," Kibler says. "Grand Rapids has been on my radar for a while, and I thought that before (an artisan bakery) gets built, I'd better do it myself. I'm going to have an audience at the Downtown Market to come and see my bakery, which is sometimes what makes it hard for businesses to succeed -- how do I draw people to my business?"

Field & Fire will join several other shops announced by the market previously: Simpatico Coffee, Old World Olive Press, Crescent Floral & Gifts, Dorothy and Tony's Gourmet Kettle Corn, and Love's Ice Cream.

Source: Downtown Market News Release
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Art of the Table to open food, wine, and beer tasting boutique in Grand Rapids' Downtown Market

If two Grand Rapids entrepreneurs get the green light from the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for a liquor license, then a new food, beer, and wine tasting venue will be the latest shop to stake its claim at Grand Rapids' $30 million Downtown Market.

Amy Ruis, owner of Art of the Table (606 Wealthy St. SE), and Kate Leeder, the store's cheesemonger for the past five years, plan to open Aperitivo in the Downtown Market's 24-vendor Market Hall. The women have applied to the DDA for a liquor license that will allow them to offer beers and wines for onsite consumption in the new 1,200-square-foot shop that will feature a tasting bar.

Aperitivo, Spanish for "appetizer," describes the concept for the small plates that Ruis says will be on the menu. Customers will be able to order samples of the items available for purchase in the store: an array of cheeses, and gourmet taste treats to go with the cheeses, such as, salamis, patés, prosciutto, nuts, honeys, jams, crostini, olives, and the like.

Customers will be able to sit at one of 15 seats at the bar inside the store, or on the outdoor terrace, and taste plates of delectable goodies along with a beer or glass of wine.

"We'll be in the Market Hall, right at the front entrance in a primo space," Ruis says. "The concept is that it's primarily a cheese shop, but we'll also have some retail gourmet foods, beers, and wines to pick up and take home. We will also offer a grilled cheese of the day for those who want a light lunch. It will be a simplified menu focused on tasting the products we sell."

The market opens this summer and will feature an outdoor farmers market, a certified kitchen, a greenhouse, dining, coffee shops, bakeries, and more.

Source: Amy Ruis, Aperitivo
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids' Fulton Street Farmers Market in full bloom with new year-round market building

Construction on the Fulton Street Farmers Market (1147 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids) is nearing completion. The last phase of the $3 million renovation project began in December with the erection of a 2,000-square-foot, year-round building that will house 8 to 10 indoor stalls, as well as the market manager's office.

Other features include improved traffic flow, ADA-compliant restrooms at both ends of the market, and updated electrical outlets in each stall to accommodate vendors' own heaters and freezers.

So far, the new facelift has yielded impressive results. After construction of the massive market shed (roof structure) ended last year, farmers saw their sales increase. Hard stats are not yet in, but Project Leader Christine Helms-Maletic says, "By the end of April, anecdotally, we had about a 25 percent increase in sales, which is astounding since we had a killing frost last spring. We also had a fairly severe, dry summer, but in spite of that, the farmers were doing more business."

Part of the reason for the boost in business is that the new market is more efficient, allowing farmers to keep produce refrigerated and significantly reducing set-up and breakdown times. Farmers have more time to work in the fields to produce more, well, produce.

In January, the year-round market expanded its hours to include Saturdays from 10 a. m. to 1 p.m. until April 27.

"The winter market is even better with the (shed) roof," says Helms-Maletic. "Farmers sell meats, cheeses, eggs, baked goods, and root vegetables."

So far, Rakowski Family Farm, offering Moo-ville dairy items, eggs, and poultry, and Fantabulous Fudge have spots in the year-round building. Real Food Farm, which sells veggies, and August's Kitchen, which offers baked goods, will occupy time-sharing a spot.

Regular market hours return on Saturday, May 4 until Christmas: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

Stay current on events at the market via its Facebook page here.

Source: Christine Helms-Maletic, Project Leader, Fulton Street Farmers Market
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Muskegon wakes up and smells the coffee with new shop in historic Russell Block Building

Drip Drop Drink will be one of the first three tenants opening in the Russell Block Market, the $2 million retail incubator located at 360 W. Western Ave. in Muskegon. The shop, which will specialize in handcrafted, drip-style coffee along with an espresso bar, is gearing up to open in June.

It's the brainchild of Muskegon resident Todd Johnson, who has 20 years of experience in the food service business. After he and his employer of 18 years parted ways last August, Johnson was free to follow his dream. 

Although Grand Rapids coffee houses, such as Madcap Coffee and Rowster Coffee, already embrace drip-style coffee, it is something new for Muskegon.

"Drip Drop Drink uses only high-quality, artisan-roasted coffee beans that are sustainably produced by direct-trade farmers," says Johnson. "Drip-style coffee slows the process down and allows us to get to know our customers. We want people to take their time and enjoy the process of coffee making, the aroma, and all of the flavors inherent in the beans."

When the Russell Block Market opens, Drip Drop Drink, along with other small and start-up retailers, will help perk up the downtown area, which is enjoying a renaissance after suffering a period of decline, including the closure and demolition of the former Muskegon Mall a dozen years ago.

The retail incubator offers Drip Drop Drink and other tenants low rents as well as the opportunity for group marketing and business development support.

Coffee connoisseurs don't have to wait until June to get a taste of what Drip Drop Drink offers. Johnson sets up shop at the Muskegon Indoor Winter Market (old Savings Bank Building, 350 W. Western Ave.) on Weds. and Sat. from 9 a.m. to3 p.m.. He also sets up shop at Watermark Live once a month.

Source: Todd Johnson, Drip Drop Drink
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Ada's Spoonlickers hits the road May 1 with its new frozen yogurt party cart

"There weren't many places to go for treats with our kids," says Ada resident, Dianna Darling. "The options out there used processed, frozen food. There was room to do something better." And so began the story of Spoonlickers.

Having identified a need in the community for a healthier alternative, Darling and her family wasted no time in getting their flagship business, Spoonlickers Handcrafted Frozen Yogurt (400 Ada Dr., Suite D, Ada) up and running last Memorial Day weekend.

Business was so brisk, they opened another shop in Grand Rapids (1971 East Beltline NE, Suite 104) in October, and a third shop in Eastown (1551 Wealthy St. SE) in January. All told, the three locations employ 50 people.

But wait -- they're not done yet!

On May 1, Spoonlickers goes mobile, bringing its tasty treats to the customer, instead of the other way around. "We'll have the same equipment and soft-serve machines, but everything will be mobile," says Darling. "We'll cater to private events, parties, and festivals."

Every tasty treat is handcrafted from locally grown or produced ingredients. Each location has its own kitchen where delicious recipes come to life. "We make yogurt with real fruit and real cream, and we make our own toppings, too," says Darling. "We even make marshmallows from scratch."

From idea to construction, it takes about three months to get a 1,500-square-foot Spoonlickers shop up and running. The Darlings had considered franchises, but were turned off by the plethora of corporate requirements and restrictions.

"We wanted full creative control," says Darling. "It was a quick decision, a quick process. We had solid connections in the area that helped things go fast."

The Darlings have a humble goal: to employ people and for each location to pay for itself. Anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.

Source: Diane Darling, Spoonlickers
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Historic Elston Storage Building on Wealthy Street to be redeveloped

In the continuing transformation of Wealthy Street and the Cherry Hill, East Hills, and Fairmount Square areas, the historic Elston Storage Building will soon be getting a lot of attention. Developers plan to convert the office and storage building into live/work units, commercial and retail space called Live Wealthy. Commonly referred to as the Kregel Building, the five story building located at 733 Wealthy Street between Eastern and Charles, has housed the Kregel Publishing Company for several decades.

"This is a gateway building, and it will continue to change the feel of that area of Wealthy Street." says Brice Bossardet, who is serving as the real estate broker and representative of the building's developers.

Live/work refers to projects consisting of both commercial/office and residential components that are occupied by the same resident. Developers envision 1200 - 1300 square foot live/work apartments, targeting long-term renters similar to commercial leases.

Part of the plans for the 80,000 square foot building involve adding extensive windows to the top three floors, which have been closed off by brick to accommodate the large upper floor storage areas, removing plywood siding that has covered up the ground floor windows and bringing in active retail uses, and adding balconies. Because of the historical nature of the building, many of those changes to the upper floors will depend on the Historic Preservation Commission's approval and Historic Tax Credit regulations.

According to Bossardet, in reviewing information in the Grand Rapids Archives:

"In 1917 the owner of the two-story Elston Storage Building needed to make a large expansion to his facility located at 733 Wealthy St SE in Grand Rapids, MI. Positioned in the middle of a deeply entrenched residential community, he knew the only place to go was up. He consulted with renowned Grand Rapids Architect Lee DeCamp to offer an affordable solution. Mr. DeCamp looked at many possibilities, but decided to raise the roof and build three more stories under it. It was an aggressive “Feat in Engineering”, but F. S. Elston proceeded with the project. The October 28, 1917 edition of The Grand Rapids Herald reported “in 65 working days added three stories, set the original roof in place without even a crack, and all the while Mr. Elston was doing business in the original two stories. There was not a dollar’s worth of damage. "When completed the warehouse was the largest in the State, absolutely fireproof, and 'the last word in construction of such buildings.'"

Developers are also eyeing Ron's Car Wash on the corner of Eastern and Wealthy Street and the lot that separates the two. They envision the possible construction of a building between Ron's and the Elston Building, to replicate a building that was demolished in 1986 according to Bossardet. Those plans also would have to go before the HPC.

If all goes as planned, construction on the project is set to begin in August 2013 with tenants beginning to take occupancy in late 2013/early 2014.

To stay up-to-date on this project, you can visit their Facebook page here.

Writer: Jeff Hill, Publisher
Source: Brice Bossardet, Urban Space of Grand Rapids LLC

Images courtesy of Urban Space
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