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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