Grand Rapids' first market rate church-to-apartments project begins pre-leasing

616 Development launched its pre-leasing activites for their 616 Lofts on Prospect project this weekend, hosting walking tours of the building undergoing renovations for interested tenants. Though another church-to-residential project is under way a few blocks south in East Hills, this project marks Grand Rapids' first "market rate" version of this national trend, which 616 hopes will help fill the need for Grand Rapids' exploding demand for market rate housing in and around downtown.

The project will consist of 22 market rate apartments ranging from $750 - $1800 per month depending on the size and the location within the old church. Apartments in the main sanctuary, keeping intact the soaring ceilings, massive wood beams and arched stained glass windows, were already in demand, with several already spoken for by the time the open house was in full swing on Saturday: eight of the 22 total units were leased by the time we joined the tour.

Working with locally based Lott3Metz Achitecture, 616 Development carved the apartment units into every nook and cranny of the building, with 3 and 1/2 full floors of apartments. One of the garden level apartments feaures the old brick fireplace that used to provide warmth for a community room that the church used. Another unit offers an old stage that will give the impression of a raised living room. Many of the main sanctuary apartments feature loft space that can be used for storage, with the largest sanctuary unit providing two floors of living space with breathtaking views of the massive arched ceilings and timber beams.

Unlike a lot of white-box renovation projects in the city, no two units in this project appear to be the same. Ornate elements of the church, including hand-carved bannisters and archways in the halls, will be left in place to provide a one-of-a-kind feel to the entire building.

The downtown apartment market continues to stay hot, with over 500 new apartment units in the planning stages. Only about 150 of those are market rate, which 616 hopes to increase to around 200 new market rate units per year to help fill the demand, which shows no signs of ebbing any time soon.

616 will have additional open houses over the upcoming weeks, as well as set up private tours through their leasing office.

Writer: Jeff Hill, Rapid Growth Media
Photos by Jeff Hill

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