Lofty Landmark Living

June 12, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — As the Italianate Commercial building, the structure saw about 125 Christmases. Now, as Landmark Lofts, the building is guaranteed to celebrate many more.

De Vries Companies recently held a holiday open house to showcase its conversion of the four-story building into Chicago-style loft condominiums that offer a breathtaking view in a revitalized portion of the city. Located at 801 Monroe NW, near the historic Sixth Street Bridge and nestled between two city parks, the building has 18 condos of various sizes.

In all, Landmark Lofts has 50,000 square feet that translate into three floors of modern urban living and a single ground floor of contemporary commercial space all wrapped up in a restored historic veneer that was built in 1875.

“At this time, we have six units sold out of a possible 18,” said Ed De Vries, co-owner of De Vries Companies.

The firm is showing prospective buyers models that range in price from $140,000 to $425,000 and in size from 800 square feet to 2,100 square feet. All have high ceilings and exposed brick walls. Three fourth-floor units have ceilings that are 18 feet high and contain full-sized sleeping lofts. Two of the three are sold. Parking is included. Beyond that, buyers can customize their units choosing either carpeting or hardwood floors, or whatever.

“We will custom finish the units for people. We establish the floor plan and the outside walls of the unit, and then people can select their own interior, layout and finishes,” said De Vries.

Landmark Lofts also has a secured entry system, a business center, on-site exercise and laundry facilities, an HVAC system with a closed-loop heat pump that provides individual temperature control and a common hot water system that runs directly from the boiler. The building is also wired for high-speed Internet access.

“We’ve had a variety of people respond to the condos, from people in their 20s through their 50s and 60s. They want to live near downtown and are looking for this style of living where they have something very unique and attractive,” said De Vries.

The ground floor offers 6,500 square feet of renovated commercial space, and De Vries said he was talking with a tenant who was interested in 3,800 square feet of that space. He hoped to close the deal soon and have the tenant moved in by either February or March.

The current state of Landmark Lofts only marks the work’s first phase. That’s because De Vries Companies owns the land that runs north of the building to the city park just down the street, and the firm may add another 40 condos on that property — which sits on the east bank of the Grand River in the revived North Monroe district.

“I like the aesthetics of the whole area, the location and the closeness of everything and the views that you get out of this building. The views from here are outstanding. We have a park on the north. We have a park on the south. And we have the river to the west,” he said.

“The view is unobstructed and will always be unobstructed because of the river and the parks.”

The Italianate Commercial building opened as an office and a store for C.C. Comstock, a sash and door maker. A few years later it became a residential building before reverting to commercial use in 1917 when it housed a furniture manufacturer.

De Vries Companies was founded in 1950 and consists of De Vries Construction Ltd., De Vries Development and Ed De Vries Properties Inc., which has leasing information at 454-1446. The firm is known for its historical renovation work, and most famous for restoring Aldrich Place, a commercial building at Ottawa Avenue and Monroe Center.

Landmark Lofts is the third residential conversion on a short stretch of North Monroe Avenue. The Berkey & Gay and Ammerman buildings were also changed into dwelling units.

De Vries gave the city high marks for upgrading the parks and turning North Monroe into a tree-lined boulevard. He added that the Monroe North Business Association plans to make more improvements to the street.

“The association is set to really do some great things with flowers and landscaping for next spring and summer,” he said. “And I think you’ll see some dynamic things happening here because all the property owners are ready to do that together.”

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