Brickway Condo In Works

February 8, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Changes will be happening soon above the popular downtown restaurant XO Asian Cuisine.

Long used for storage, the two upper floors at 56 MonroeCenter are being converted into eight condominiums, with the possibility of a ninth "penthouse" unit being added later. Dubbed The Brickway Residences, the condominiums are a project of Brice Bossardet and his company, Virgin Soil Development.

The project began on a hot day last summer when Bossardet was sitting in the coffee shop across the street, glanced up at the expanse of arched windows above the restaurant and wondered what was there. So he knocked on the restaurant's door, and what he found was "a diamond in the rough" that had been vacant for 60 years, he said. A deal was born, and he bought the two upper floors for an "affordable" condominium project.

Looking past the dust, old restaurant booths and faded wallpaper, Bossardet envisioned a set of downtown condos that would be easier to buy for people who want to live in an urban environment but don't have access to financing for units priced over the $200,000 mark.

"When you get into the $200,000 range, you're in contention with six or seven different developments," Bossardet said. His plan includes one-bedroom, one-bathroom units of around 800 square feet for $134,900, to slightly larger condos with two bedrooms and baths for $154,900, plus upgrades such as granite countertops. Floor plans can be customized, and four units are already sold, with construction beginning this year.

He said other offerings in that price range are outside the downtown district. "Some are not within walking distance to downtown," he said. And he found in marketing his own projects that customers were looking for a lower price point.

The condos will include a private entrance and a rooftop deck. Bossardet said he plans to install special venting to counter the tantalizing scents from the restaurant below. The units will be walk-up.

Bossardet said an upper floor may someday be converted to a 1,300-square-foot penthouse condominium above the $200,000 mark, but he has no plans to build-out that plan in the near future.

Other Virgin Soil projects have included Front Row, Weathervane, Cherry Street Lofts, LaGrave Brownstones and Harbors Edge.     

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