Battle Creek Condos Get National Exposure

April 30, 2007
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The Battle Creek Downtown Partnership has gained some notoriety for a restoration project involving the conversion of three historic buildings into high-end residential condominiums. 

HGTV Restore America will feature downtown Battle Creek’s Riverfront Condominiums project in a vignette series that will air on national TV this month on the Home & Garden Television network. The TV spot will also be accessible online at HGTV Restore America. The story was also featured in April in a nationally syndicated radio spot — “On-Site with Restore America” — which was broadcast to more than 300 radio stations.

The three buildings are located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Carlyle Street and have been vacant for more than 20 years. The project includes the Ratti Building at 115 W. Michigan Ave., the Carlyle Building at 15 Carlyle St. and the old Anson Hotel at 119 W. Michigan Ave.

The project calls for 24 condo units across the three buildings. The building at 15 Carlyle will be completely residential, said Kathleen Eriksen, director of Battle Creek Downtown Partnership. The first floors of both buildings on West Michigan Avenue are set aside for retail development. Eriksen said a total of five retail units will be built across the two buildings.

HGTV Restore America, which is a multi-million dollar public affairs initiative by Home & Garden TV, awarded the Downtown Partnership a $25,000 grant for the condo project.

Eleven units in the Riverfront Condominiums had been pre-sold by April 1. Originally, the plan was to hold off start of construction until 18 units were pre-sold, Eriksen said.

“But we found that it’s hard for people to envision what the end product will look like. That’s why we went ahead and created a new LLC — the Riverfront Condominium Development Co. — so we could start construction without a set number of pre-sales,” she explained.

Phase I of construction began in April on the building at 115 W. Michigan and will be completed this summer. The Downtown Partnership is using the first completed unit as its office and as a model for interested buyers. The building will have two residential units, and Conway Photography Studio will be moving into one of the retail spaces. 

“We’ve restored all the historical elements of the building, yet infused some bright contemporary colors and some modern lighting and features, so it’s a really nice combination of the old and the new,” Eriksen said of the Downtown Partnership space.

Work on the building at 15 Carlyle, which will have 18 residential units, will be completed in the summer of 2008. Plans for the conversion of the Anson Hotel at 119 W. Michigan have not been finalized yet, Eriksen noted.

The original exteriors of all the buildings will be restored to the extent that they can be, she said. For instance, there is glass block on one of the buildings that will be restored to its original state. The buildings will be stripped of old metal awnings, new windows will be installed, and balconies will be added to all the units facing the river.

There will be two carports in addition to uncovered parking for condo owners. There will also be covered, secure parking spaces across the street from Riverfront Condominiums that will be available at an additional cost.

The condos and retail space are for sale only; there won’t be any leasing opportunities, Eriksen said. The condominium units range in size from 856 square feet to 1,700 square feet and range in price from $109,000 to $299,000, Eriksen said. Retail space will go for $90 per square foot. The retail unit on the corner of Carlyle and Michigan is already reserved for a high-end restaurant/café. As part of the project, the sidewalk down to the river is being expanded to allow for outdoor café seating and riverfront patios.

Good Housekeeping TV supports National Trust for Historic Preservation efforts nationwide to raise awareness of preservation. For 2006-2007, HGTV’s Restore America awarded grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 to fund a dozen community revitalization projects. The grants go toward the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures for residential use. Grant monies can be used to cover costs of professional services or brick and mortar expenses.

HGTV donated $1 million for the 2006-2007 campaign period and received more than 100 grant applications from nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the country.     CQ

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