Avenue 23 Targets Young Professionals

April 30, 2007
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The growing medical, research and life sciences activity on Michigan Street hill has attracted yet another developer to Grand Rapids’ central city. Chicago-based Revolution Investment Partners is converting an apartment building at 23 College Ave. SE into 20 condo units priced at “entry level” for people who want an urban lifestyle but don’t have the ability or desire to buy a higher-end condo.

Each one-bedroom condo in the “Avenue 23” development is approximately 560 square feet and features a newly outfitted kitchen and bathroom, new windows and patio doors, as well as bamboo hardwood and ceramic tile flooring. Prices for a fully renovated, one-bedroom unit start at $88,375. Each condo has either a balcony or a private patio, separately controlled heat, laundry and storage area, and a deeded parking space on site that’s included in the purchase price.

Michelle Mulder, a graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School and Calvin College, is managing director of the Revolution Investment group. She became interested in doing a project during trips here to visit her family. She saw the condominium as a great starter point for the company in this market.

“It’s a small project, and we loved the fact that it was in Heritage Hill and within 10 minutes walking distance of downtown,” Mulder explained. “Our target market is young professionals, especially in the medical field. We were excited about the building, because we could price the units in a range that young professionals could afford.” 

Mulder said parents also have shown interest in buying the condos for their college students. Revolution Investment does both condo and commercial and retail developments. It has been involved in more than 250 condo conversions in the Chicago market over the past 18 years.

“The focus has been to go into decent but getting-better neighborhoods,” Mulder said. “We buy some of the traditional Chicago architecture buildings that are just beautiful, and keep true to the architecture outside but really upgrade the inside.”

Buyers can choose customized finishes for their unit, and upgrades, such as stainless steel kitchen appliances and granite countertops, are available, said David Mapes, general manager of Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt.

“It’s hard to upgrade them too much, because they come with so much, including new dishwashers and air conditioners; those are upgrades for most developments, but they’re standard here,” Mapes remarked.

Revolution Investment engaged the services of Mapes, as well as Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt agents Liz Klinzing and Mary Mapes, last year. Each of the three Realtors has more than a dozen years of experience marketing Heritage Hill properties. David Mapes said Mulder’s group started discussions with his firm about the feasibility of the project in April 2006. 

“We all felt there was a real market for condos that were very affordable — whether for a student attending college, somebody just out of college or somebody in the service industry or in an administrative position who wants an affordable place in a downtown neighborhood.”

The Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt team then brought in the attorneys, sent out the notifications, met with tenants, put together the promotional materials and started actively marketing the condos in November.

By the end of March, 25 percent of the units had been sold, Mapes noted. One unit has been completely renovated and the owners have moved in. Four others have been purchased and are undergoing renovation. 

Mapes said about 25 Realtors attended an Avenue 23 open house on Feb. 28.

“All the agents felt the condos were a really nice value and that they were well put together in terms of flow,” Mapes recalled. “The units actually seem far larger than they are and offer a lot of flexibility in how they can be used. We had a lot of positive comments.”

Mulder said she and her partners “without a doubt” will seek out other projects in downtown Grand Rapids. CQ

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