Restoration Based On Brownstones

March 7, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — After being vacant for over two years, the old Dayton Building is about to have dwellers again.

Later this spring, the first new residents will move into the twp top-floor units of what now is a condominium.

Virgin Soil Development LLC is turning the 91-year-old Dayton Building — a closed-down and rundown former apartment house at 143 Cherry St. SE — into eight contemporary, loft-style condos. Each will have about 1,000 square feet of space, two bedrooms, a bath-and-a-half, and a large storage area.

A landscaped three-tiered rooftop deck — with a hot tub and a grilling area — is also part of the building’s revival.

“We gutted it to the studs, took everything out, and are building eight condominiums,” said Brice Bossardet, an owner and partner in the project and an associate broker with S.J. Wisinski & Co.

“I’m a big fan of Chicago and the little neighborhoods there. Our building is like a Chicago brownstone building there, where you walk down to two units and walk up to the six units,” he added.

The new building will be known as Cherry Street Lofts.

Bossardet said he has already sold four of the condos, and the two top-floor units would be ready for occupancy by early April.

“I’ve got reservations on two more. But I haven’t committed to those because I think I have them undervalued at this point,” he said.

“As I get units done, the values are going to rise on the others. So I’m just coasting right now because I’ll have the bank paid off with the ones I have reserved.”

National City Bank is financing the project and offering buyers a special mortgage rate. The deal involves the lender’s Community Development Corp., which regularly invests in neighborhood developments.

And Cherry Street Lofts is in the developing Heartside neighborhood. The main campus of Saint Mary’s Health Care lies a little more than a block to the east on Jefferson Avenue.

“It’s easy-in and easy-out. It doesn’t have the hustle and bustle, and the parking issues aren’t there,” said Bossardet of the lofts location.

Craig Architects designed the renovation and Virgin Soil Development is the project’s general contractor. Axis Realty Network is marketing the condos.

The Dayton Building, which opened as an apartment house in 1914, came about as a direct result of the booming manufacturing business that was going on here back then. R.C. Dayton, a Wisconsin Veneer Co. executive, built it and rented to manufacturing workers.

At the time, the Dayton was considered the city’s largest and most expensive apartment building, and the only one with an automatic sprinkler system running through all 11 of its units.

But too many drug raids, with the last occurring almost three years ago, resulted in the building being closed.

It stayed boarded up and vacant until Virgin Soil bought the building.

“I saw it when they were boarding it up, probably two- and-a-half years ago,” said Bossardet, “and I’ve been chasing it ever since.”    

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