Monroe Center Condos Are Going Fast

March 7, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Some of the condominiums are a bit larger than initially designed and most are already sold.

But all 10 will provide a front-row seat to view the increasing rate of activity that is taking over MonroeCenter

Belford Development LLC said last week that it has sold seven of the 10 living units that make up Front Row Condominiums. The 10 stretch across seven buildings on the south side of MonroeCenter from

Ionia Avenue east
to Division. Originally, Belford planned to build 13 homes on the top two floors of those buildings, but lowered that number to 10 when some buyers asked for more space in their individual units.

Now a few of the condos will offer 2,800 square feet of living space or about 200 more square feet than was first planned for the largest one. The units average a bit more than 2,000 square feet, and range in size from just below 1,500 square feet to 2,800 square feet.

Regardless of each unit’s size, all 10 overlook Monroe Center and every one is located in the city’s Renaissance Zone, which means owners won’t pay property or state and city personal income taxes for roughly 13 years.

Each condo features a high ceiling, exposed brick walls, walk-in closets and a fireplace. Belford is turning the units over to its buyers in a “white box” condition and letting owners finish their units as they see fit.

“We should be done with the white box phase of things for most of the units by the first of May,” said Kurt Hassberger, COO of the Rockford Development Group, which joined forces with Dave Lubbers, Lee Kitson, and a few others to build the homes.

Once that construction phase is completed, buyers will be able to begin adding their personal touches to the condos.

“We’ll have people living in these units this summer,” said Hassberger.

Belford has parking for eight of the 10 condos. With the Yen Ching Restaurant closing, the partners are taking down the kitchen area and putting up a few more garages and surface spaces in its place.

The ground floors of these buildings, which run from 51 to 63 Monroe Center, will be filled with retail. Although Yen Ching is gone, the Elegance Wig Shop is staying. That leaves four lower levels to fill.

Hassberger said one retail space is all but taken and another is close to being leased. A third is being strongly considered, leaving only the fourth space without a likely tenant.

“It really hasn’t been in position to be shown yet. It wraps around the elevator on the first floor,” he said of the fourth storefront.

Mike Mraz, a development coordinator at Rockford Development, has information on the condos and retail space at 776-5204.

There is an eighth building in the project, a former bank at 65 Monroe Center. The two-story structure has about 6,500 square feet of space and a vault. Hassberger said a lot of people have looked at it and for a variety of uses ranging from office space to living space.


“We’ve had a significant number of people look at the building. Nobody has put their name on the dotted line yet, but we’re very confident that we’ll find a user for the building,” he said.

“The second floor of that building would be a dynamite residential unit. That building is in the Renaissance Zone and has the same benefits that the Front Row Condominiums have.”

Design Plus designed the renovation work. Rockford Construction Co. is managing the project. When completely finished, the work will revive about 50,000 square feet of space, most of it vacant a year ago.

Hassberger said his firm is also finishing up the last retail space in the PeckBuilding at the northeast corner of MonroeCenter and Division and across the street from the condos. A new women’s shoe store is expected to open there in early April.

And Rockford Development recently sold 56-58 MonroeCenter, just west of the PeckBuilding. The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous for now, plans to use the building.    

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