Fulton Group sees foreclosed homes as building blocks for Grand Rapids neighborhoods

The Fulton Group partner Josh Smith says that with the renovation of nearly 100 foreclosed homes under its belt, the company is living out its mission to "make substantial investments in deteriorating properties within the city of Grand Rapids to … make the city a better place to live."

The Fulton Group, a Grand Rapids housing renovation and property management company (928 E. Fulton St.) owned by lifelong Grand Rapidians Rob Murray, Kevin Polakovich, and Josh Smith, started five years back with a goal to buy, renovate, and lease vacant foreclosed properties. The group has two focus areas for development: East Hills/Midtown/Fulton Business District and the lower west side along Seward, Chatham, and Lake Michigan Dr. -- areas that are primarily residential, but close to downtown and public transit.

"Four or five years ago was kind of the peak of the housing market depression," Smith says. "Kevin and I, being in the mortgage/construction/real estate business, said to each other that the value of the land is worth what the houses are going for. We wanted to concentrate in specific areas around downtown Grand Rapids. We can really make an impact in these neighborhoods if we do it right."

For Smith, "do it right" means gutting every property and rebuilding so every bedroom has an adjoining bath, each unit has a laundry area, and all multi-unit properties have ample soundproofing between apartments.

Smith says a current project at 604 Chatham NW has four all-new, two-bedroom apartments that could be available in the next 30 days. The property, purchased at a Kent County tax auction in 2011, is adjacent to a foreclosed property Fulton Group already owned. Razing the foreclosed property created a parking area and green space for the multi-unit.

"In 2012, we've done 18 separate projects so far," Smith says. "We're looking to do 20 to 30 properties in 2013. Right now, we have about 20 properties that are waiting to get onto the construction schedule."

Source: Josh Smith, Fulton Group; Matt Muscat, Treadstone Mortgage
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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