Second Story Climbs Another Level

January 17, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Second Story Properties has laid claim to a first — the first downtown residential specialist in the local market.

The development and property management firm, headed by Sam Cummings and John Green and headquartered at 15 Ionia Ave. SW, has added the marketing of housing units to its growing list of services through the hiring of Donna Dozeman as its residential specialist.

Dozeman came to Second Story a few weeks ago with 20 years of experience in selling housing units. Most recently, she sold and resold the 144 condominiums in Plaza Towers, a residential building at the northwest corner of Market and Fulton.

"I think it's ready to boom, more so than it already has," said Dozeman of the residential market downtown.

"She gives us the ability to react to things we weren't able to. It gives us the insight and control over the marketing of such projects as 33 Library," said Cummings, Second Story president, of why they brought Dozeman to the firm.

Soon Second Story will start taking reservations for the condos it will begin building in the downtown YMCA, the building at 33 Library NW that Cummings referred to. About 40 are planned for the eight-story structure and those interested in living there should be able to contact Dozeman in either August or September. The units, which will range in size from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet, should be ready in the summer of 2006.

Second Story is also building new townhouses on the city's southeast side. The company has partnered with Bazzani & Associates to construct up to 53 new homes in a traditional neighborhood style on four acres near Cherry Street, just south of downtown.

Cummings told the Business Journal last week that he expects the market for downtown housing to continue to grow. As evidence, he cited the considerable number of phone calls that came to Second Story over the past few years from potential buyers who were looking for living space in the district — but had no idea of who to call.

"They read about and heard about all these residential projects that were happening in the urban area, but yet they didn't know who to talk to; who is the person marketing the urban area as a viable place to live. I think it's natural for us to do that," said Cummings.

Green, executive vice president of the firm, noted that Second Story is widely known for its many renovation projects downtown and that the firm is a good source for office and retail space. But Green added that many might not be as familiar with the company's residential background, as it manages the condos in Tannery Row at 16 Ionia Ave. SW and Monroe Terrace at 600 Monroe Ave. NW.

"This isn't just being established for the purpose of a Second Story project. This is a central marketing effort for all development going on, not only in the downtown area but the city of Grand Rapids, as well," said Green of the new service.

Second Story's Todd Schaal, who also owns The Estes Group with wife Michelle, said adding Dozeman to the company makes the firm deeper and more resourceful.

"This helps round out the services that we can provide. We have a tremendous amount of depth in this company already and this adds greater depth and resources to draw from," said Schaal.

"When you're having a discussion with a developer about selling condos or managing an association, as opposed to just having property management resources, you can draw from a marketing perspective and provide more value," he added.

Dozeman began selling the Plaza Towers units in 1997 and has remained active in the downtown housing market since then.

"I've specialized in condominiums," said Dozeman, who sold the units at Plaza Towers in less than a year and lived there. "I was looking for a challenge and a new project."

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