Big MixedUse Project Moves Soon

April 2, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — A large, $27 million mixed-use development encompassing four blocks in the Michigan Street Hill area is expected to begin taking shape later this year.

The development will feature 182,000 square feet of retail, office, medical office and residential space.

It is to feature five new buildings — and possibly a sixth in time — between the Ford Expressway and Michigan Street in what now is a residential neighborhood just east of College Avenue.

About 35 houses, some of them unoccupied, will be torn down to make way for the project.

The homes all lie in an area overlooking the expressway and bordered by Paris Avenue on the west and Benson Avenue on the east. 

The developers expect to close on sales of all 35 homes by mid-April, said Brad Rosely, vice president of S.J. Wisinski & Co. and representative for the development group.

Demolition is expected to start the first part of June and will take 30 to 45 days to complete, he said.

Whether the buildings will be constructed one or two at a time depends on demand, Rosely said.

All space will be available for lease, with lease agreements handled by S.J. Wisinski & Co.

“If it goes like it looks like it’s going to go, they might go up quicker than anticipated, but we’re not going to put all of them up vacant,” Rosely said.

“It will be a lease-in-progress type of situation.”

He said the developers will probably start with Building D, a 21,600-square-foot, two-story building at Michigan and Paris, and Building A, a 60,000-square-foot, three-story building positioned directly behind Building D.

Building D will offer a mix of retail, office residential and “live-work” space, where a tenant might lease space for a small shop on the first floor and living quarters on the second floor, Rosely explained. The majority of space in Building A will be devoted to medical offices, with some retail space planned for the first floor.

Rosely said after Buildings A and D are completed, construction likely will commence on Buildings F, C and B, in that order.

According to plans, a two-story, 20,600-square-foot Building F, on the east end of the 6-acre site, will house a minimum of four residential units, as well as office and live-work space.

Building C, to be located in the center of the campus, will have two stories and 32,400 square feet of space for retail, office, live-work and residential tenants.

A four-story, 48,000-square-foot Building B, to be located on the north side of the campus, will offer medical office space on the top three floors and a combination of retail and office space on the first.

“Because Building B is the second medical office building, it would be put up as needed,” Rosely noted.

There’s the potential on the site for a sixth building at the corner of Michigan and Union Avenue, but the developers don’t control that portion of the property, “so it’s not in the foreseen future,” Rosely said.

The project will cover “the whole nine yards” in terms of infrastructure improvements, Rosely said.

“Everything is new in Michigan Street, but it’s never been brought back to the ancillary areas off of Paris, Dudley and Union, so all of that has to be brand new. That will take a little time.”

David Levitt of East Grand Rapids heads the development’s investor group, which includes “a few” local and out-of-town investors, Rosely said.

Rosley stressed that with respect to the houses to be raze, the developers have given salvage rights to all used building materials, appliances and hardware to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, which recently started a salvage program.

The organization plans to offer salvaged items for resale at a store it’s opening on South Division Avenue called “ReStore.” The store also will feature surplus new items and materials donated by Kent County businesses.

Proceeds from the sale of salvaged as well as new items will go to finance the construction of more Habitat homes.

“Habitat for Humanity can come in and get doors and doorknobs, or a heating unit or something, that can help them out,” Rosely said of the 35 homes that are to be demolished. “We like to help out with the community.”

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