Dwelling Getting Another Place

December 22, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Dwelling Place Inc. is likely to add another building to its Avenue of the Arts project, as the nonprofit development company and property manager has secured an option to buy 101 S. Division Ave.

Dwelling Place has entered into an agreement to purchase the building from 101 South Division LLC for $317,000, with a closing set for March. The city received the building in a foreclosure suit and then sold it to the group, headed by Daniel Durr of ICON Properties and Ted Lott of Lott3Metz Architecture, two years ago for $165,000.

But 101 South Division was unable to fulfill the provisions of a development contract it signed with the city as part of the sales agreement and put the building on the market.

“They were unable to secure a tenant for the first-floor commercial space,” said City Economic Development Director Susan Shannon. “They have tried very hard to develop this place.”

City commissioners transferred the development agreement to Dwelling Place last week and gave the new buyer an additional three years to complete the terms of the contract.

“I feel confident that Dwelling Place will live up to the agreement,” said James Jendrasiak, 1st Ward commissioner.

Dwelling Place has to develop commercial space on the ground floor, build a minimum of 17 apartments on the second and third floors, create parking in the basement, invest at least $2.5 million in the project, preserve the building’s historic exterior, start work by April 2008, and have half the apartments occupied by the end of 2010.

“The main things that change here are the developer and the timeframe,” said Mayor George Heartwell of the agreement with the city.

Dwelling Place told the city it should take two years and nine months to renovate the structure, which is 121 years old. Dwelling Place has to provide the city with a $165,000 letter of credit as a guarantee of performance.

Executive Director Dennis Sturtevant told the Business Journal that Dwelling Place will likely build market-rate apartments on the top two floors due to the overwhelming number of applications received for the income-restricted units in the Martineau and Kelsey apartment houses, which feature live-work spaces and are anchors for the Avenue of the Arts project. Sturtevant said Dwelling Place had to turn away quite a few artists who had applied for apartments in those buildings, as their income was over the limit for affordable housing but near the market-rate range.

The price Dwelling Place will pay for the building covers what 101 South Division paid the city for it and the $152,000 that Durr and Lott invested in it the past two years.

The city spent $157,000 to stabilize the 60,000-square-foot structure, known as the Watson & Heald building, when it took possession. The building is located across South Division from the newly renovated Martineau Apartments.   

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