Great Views Coming Soon

December 29, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — For over a decade, the iconic view of the Grand Rapids skyline has come by way of Bridgewater Place, specifically from the southeast corner, facing the Grand River with a view of the Amway Grand Plaza, Plaza Towers and the rest of the commercial core.

With the construction of River House at Bridgewater Place, residents will have the opportunity to wake up to that view every morning, but the opportunity is fading fast. There is only one standard unit still available on the southeast corner, as the three-bedroom, three-bathroom The Grand floor plan has virtually sold out. All but three of the eight penthouse units with southwest balconies are sold as well.

And that floor plan isn’t even the most popular, as all 23 floors of the The Pere Marquette (southwest, two bedrooms, two baths) and The Pine (north-northwest, one bedroom, one and a half baths) floor plans have sold out. The remaining southern exposure floor plans, The Cascades (south-southwest, two bedrooms, two baths) and The Manistee (south-southeast, one bedroom, one and a half baths) have sold out on 21 of 23 floors.

“Sales have been spectacular,” said Daniel Wert, River House project manager and representative of developer Robert Grooters Development Corp., which also created Bridgewater Place. “All before anyone could actually see the building. We’re pretty proud of that.”

Binding purchase agreements have been inked for 121 of the 207 units in what will be the region’s tallest building, with 10 of the 20 penthouse units also under hard purchase agreements. River House is no longer accepting reservations and has converted 106 percent of the reservations reported last year for the then 198-unit project. Fewer than a dozen units have been purchased as investment property.

Two years from today, the 391-foot structure will be completely turned over to residents, the first of whom will take possession of their homes in August 2008. But today, there is no grandeur present at the Bridge Street construction site.

“We’ve got a big hole in the ground,” Wert said. “Most people don’t see it quite yet, but work has been going on since July.”

A preliminary support structure was laid out for River House when Bridgewater was built 13 years ago. At the time, designs called for a twin steel tower matching Bridgewater’s 17 stories. The current design, by DTS + Winkelmann in Grand Rapids, calls for 33 stories rising from Bridgewater’s southern base. Because of the height, concrete will be used in place of steel to minimize movement and noise.

To support the heavier, taller structure, contractor Wolverine Construction Co. has installed an additional 58 large concrete tubes, called caissons, into the bedrock. Roughly 4.5 million pounds of concrete will be poured into the ground before the structure even reaches ground level.

According to Wert, the demographics of River House buyers have been diverse, including empty nesters, young professionals and commuters. The least expensive and most expensive models have proven the top sellers, with smallish models such as The Pine and The Manistee floor plans keeping pace with the Grand and top-level penthouses. There are no remaining units in the under-$300,000 or over-$900,000 price ranges, with the multimillion-dollar top-floor units long since spoken for.

Wert, a condominium resident himself, explained that the River House design incorporated the experience of other downtown area condo residents, particularly the concerns of those living at its closest competitor, the 15-year-old Plaza Towers.

“They wanted to see oversized elevators, additional elevators and high-speed elevators,” Wert said, noting that River House will have three oversized elevators, including one earmarked as a service elevator for pets.

Other amenities include a fitness center, 24-7 concierge desk, two covered parking spaces per unit and access to Bridgewater Place. Tenants in the commercial structure do not have access to River House.    

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