Construction, Economic Development, and Government

City commissioners approve new development

Second site for successful bakery also has commission’s endorsement.

April 12, 2013
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Grand Rapids city commissioners approved a new development last week on the city’s near southwest side that has been in the works for awhile.

Brookstone Capital of Midland has been given the green light to invest $15 million into a seven-story, mixed-use building that will offer 60,000 square feet of residential space, 4,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space and a two-story parking deck.

The development will go up on a vacant parcel at 240 Ionia Ave. SW, across the street from Heartside Park and about two blocks from the new Downtown Market.

The city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved a work and development plan for the project last week; the developer is spending $2.47 million on construction activities that are eligible for tax-increment financing.

Brookstone Capital, headed by Karl Chew, plans to build 40 work-force apartments and eight market-rate units in the residential space.

A portion of the project’s financing is coming from low-income housing tax credits. Commissioners have already approved a payment-in-lieu of taxes for apartments, which means Brookstone Capital will pay the city 4 percent of the building’s total rental revenue instead of property taxes on the residences.

Each floor will have a dozen apartments with a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. The former will be about 800 square feet, while the latter will measure about 1,100 square feet. The ground floor will be built out with the hope of landing a restaurant or tavern.

“We want to continue development in that area. It’s a beautiful site across from Heartside Park. We’ve always kept our eyes on that site since we came to Grand Rapids in 2005,” said Chew in February.

Progressive AE designed the project and Wolverine Building Group will manage the construction, which is expected to get started early this summer and take a year to complete.

The project will be the eighth Brookstone Capital has built in the city since it developed Metropolitan Park Apartments at 350 Ionia Ave. SW eight years ago.

“Karl Chew is doing a fine job here in the city,” said Mayor George Heartwell.

Commissioners also gave their OK last week to the renovation of a two-story building at 1200 Hall St. SE, a $645,000 investment being undertaken by Hall Street Partners Inc.

Former City Commissioner David LaGrand and his wife, Melissa, along with Jim and Barb McClurg make up Hall Street Partners. They plan to develop the structure’s ground floor into a second location for Wealthy Street Bakery, a successful business they launched at 610 Wealthy St. SE in 2002. The Hall Street building’s second floor houses two apartments.

“The building is currently in a state of complete disrepair and will require extensive rehabilitation in order to become functional for the proposed redevelopment,” said City Economic Development Director Kara Wood.

The partners have received zoning variances for the work, but City Planning Director Suzanne Schulz has to approve the project’s site plan and floor plans.

The commission’s decision also awarded the partners an obsolete property tax exemption, which will reduce their property tax payment by $11,340 annually for several years. The city’s portion of that tax loss is $2,662. The project is expected to create 16 new jobs and add $3,900 a year in new income-tax revenue to the city, which will make up for the property-tax loss.

A request from Rockford Construction to buy a tax-foreclosed vacant residential lot at 518 Alabama Ave. NW from the city was tabled last week.

The company owns the adjacent property and wants to combine the two parcels into a rental property. Neither parcel is part of Rockford Construction’s renovation of the former Miller Products location at First Street and Seward Avenue NW into its new headquarters.

City Commissioner Walt Gutowski wanted an assurance that the site was buildable before going forward with a sale, so no action was taken on the request. At least one variance is needed from the city to build on the property.

Rockford Construction has offered the city $1,050 for the property, which went into foreclosure in 1976. “No city departments have objections to the sale and no easements are necessary,” said Wood.

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