Park Row Sells The Medical Mile

January 2, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Built into the highest grade of

Michigan Street
hill's eastern slope, Park Row Condominiums at Mid Towne Village will represent the outermost boundary of the health care and life sciences corridor alternately known as the Medical Mile, Health Care Hill or Pill Hill.

The project has used intense interest in that corridor to court an international niche — a couple from Shanghai, China; a doctor from London; a research scientist from Polynesia. Other future residents are relocating from suburban areas to be closer to the Medical Mile, including a pair of professionals with plans to open a satellite office and a practice in the adjacent Mid Towne Village professional buildings.

"I was stunned with the wonderful accents of the people who were coming in," said Joe Ross, an equity partner in Park Row and partner in Lansing-based Developer Marketing Services, the broker and sales agent for the project. "We're not getting a flood of suburbanites here. These are people coming from outside the region — the types that the new knowledge economy is attracting."

The $9 million project is the residential portion of the five-building Mid Towne Village development near the intersection of

College Avenue
and
Michigan Street
. It sits on the eastern boundary of the planned 15,000-square-foot Village Green common area and park.

Originally a partnership between Mid Towne developer S.J. Wisinski & Co., Kegle Construction and Virgin Soil Development, all of Grand Rapids, the condos now represent the outside investment Ross believes will be its primary driver. Virgin Soil was replaced by Developer Marketing Services and California investors Jerry Gross and Rose Voss.

This is Kegle Construction's first project in downtown Grand Rapids. It recently built a dozen luxury cottages in South Haven. There is no Realtor representing the project, with all sales being brokered through Developer Marketing Services.

Current designs include three classes of one-story flats ranging from 683 square feet to 1,045 square feet and $150,000 to $230,000, and a pair of two-story townhouse designs: the 1,400-square-foot, $320,000 Park Avenue and the 1,800-square-foot, $400,000 Atlantic Avenue. These will be built into four-story Chicago-style brownstones, which, on the grade of the hill, will sit three to four stories above the neighborhood to the east.

In barely three months of marketing and with no MLS listing, Park Row has sold 10 of its 34 units, averaging a sale each week. Ross expects to retain all of these reservations, with the first occupants arriving in July.

"With only 34 units, it's easy to say that we're already up to 30 percent," Ross said. "But I get a kick out of that fact because the market is so slow right now. I think the Medical Mile insulates us from the economy."

On the strength of early sales, Park Row will likely discontinue its incentive programs as construction ramps up in the spring. The tax-free zone program, in which the developer pays the unit's 2007 and 2008 property taxes, will be limited to only the first 12 units. The free-upgrade program, an initial offering price of $225 per square foot, will likely be removed in February, and the price increased to $260 per square foot.

Although yet to be determined, association fees are expected to fall below $150 per month, one of the lowest in the downtown market. All units have been approved for the federal government's Energy Star program — the associated tax credits funded the project's current incentive programs.    

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