Former Heartside hotel to become affordable apartments, retail

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

The term “massive renovation” seems a fitting term for the rehabilitation of a historic Heartside building that falls just short of a complete rebuild. The circa 1870s four-story brick building on the southwest corner of South Division and Oakes Street in Grand Rapids has been a hotel, a grocery, and a furniture factory. Now the vacant eyesore will soon be 6,000-square-feet of retail space and 20 low-income apartments.

“The roof has leaked and the center of the building east of an interior courtyard is caving in, it’s not safe to walk in,” says Aaron Jonker of Fryling Construction. Developer Brookstone Capital, LLC of Midland, the same developer behind Metropolitan Park Apartments at 350 Ionia Ave. SW, hired Fryling to handle construction and shore up the building.

“About 15 percent of the building is open from the basement to the roof, about 65 feet high, because of a fire a number of years ago,” he adds. “We’re reframing three new floors in there, replacing windows. The entire interior of the building is covered in graffiti.”

The wood frame is in bad shape. Fryling will construct what is basically a temporary “building” within the structure to hold up the roof and brick walls. Then crews will remove the damaged wood from the top down, rebuild the frame from the bottom up, and dismantle the temporary building.

Parking for tenants and commercial storefront along Oakes will occupy the main level. The second level has commercial frontage along Division and four apartments. The remaining two levels are set aside for apartments.

The apartments range from one-bedroom, 550-square-foot units to two-bedroom units of over 1,000 square feet.

The Downtown Development Authority awarded a $50,000 Building Reuse Incentives Program (BRIP) grant for a fire suppression system, barrier-free access and other improvements. The entire project is estimated at $4.5 million.

The building will be LEED certified. Construction began in August and will end in the summer of 2009.

Source: Aaron Jonker, Fryling Construction

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].