Focus, Construction, and Real Estate

The Rowe fills up as minor hurdles are cleared

Retail options will likely be announced in the coming weeks.

October 9, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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The Rowe
Units on the back side of the 10th floor will have floor-to-ceiling windows looking north and west. Photo by Pat Evans

When Detroit-based Atwater Brewery was announced as the anchor tenant of The Rowe, the urgency for the completion of the project went into high gear.

The Rowe, which was a hotel from 1923 until the 1960s when it became a retirement home, is located at the corner of Monroe Avenue NW and Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

The $24 million project is on schedule to finish by next summer, and all aspects are falling into place, said Nick Koster, vice president of operations at CWD Real Estate Investment.

CWD announced the redevelopment of the building — which had been vacant since 2001 — in December 2014.

Demolition is nearly complete, and construction on the residential units has begun.

“Everything is clicking,” Koster said. “There seems to be urgency for people who want to be here.”

That extends to potential retail tenants that have contacted CWD about the Michigan Street side of the development — around the corner from Atwater’s Monroe Avenue location — and only three of the building’s 11 condos are left.

The condos range from $239,000 to more than $1 million.

“They’re flying off the shelves,” Koster said.

Retail options, which likely will be announced in the coming weeks, will cater to the residents of the building, as well as to employees at surrounding businesses and visitors to DeVos Place, Koster said.

The Rowe’s 77 market-rate apartments on floors three through nine will go on the market next summer.

A model apartment has been finished and is featured on the ground floor of the development. Koster said the model is important for showings, starting with brokers this week, but also to discover any potential problems in design or construction flaws.

The apartments have been designed to be modern and efficient.

“Smaller is hotter,” Koster said of the design, noting that it’s a trend CWD has seen in its other developments in Grand Rapids. He said the efficiency is an aspect residents who want to live downtown are seeking.

“The design we’re going with is, at least we think, very different from other developments.”

Next week, windows should arrive and construction crews will begin their installation. Within a month the project should have a roof in place, as well, so it will be “dried in” before winter.

The new 11th floor, which is comprised of condos and a rooftop deck, is currently under construction.

The exterior will receive the addition of 400 terracotta pieces next spring to complete the restoration of the historic façade on the Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue sides.

The back of the building is a plain brick exterior, but the 10th floor will have floor-to-ceiling windows looking north and west; the street sides of that floor do not have windows due to a stone buttress.

Atwater Brewery should take control of its space in the spring, Koster said, with hopes of opening the same time as the building. The brewery’s inclusion in the project is a true development, he said.

“They had to be here, wanted to be here,” he said. “It’s a new business to Grand Rapids. People confuse moving businesses around with development. This is actual growth, real growth — not pseudo growth.”

Koster said the project never really faced any hurdles because of having universal support.

CWD Managing Partner Sam Cummings said he courted Atwater for nearly two years prior to the announcement because of his fondness for the brewery’s non-hoppy beers.

Atwater owner Mark Rieth is excited about the project.

“The Rowe building is an ideal spot for our biergarten and taphouse concept,” Rieth said when the location was announced. “First, it’s a wonderful historic and architecturally interesting building that will be brought back to its original glory and become another noteworthy asset in downtown Grand Rapids.”

The Rowe’s location allows it to act as a gateway for several neighborhoods and is the last remaining piece of history downtown. Its stature and location made the support for the development easy early in the process, Koster said. It’s also one of three downtown hotels — along with the Morton and the Pantlind — that have historical significance and similar architecture.

With the $88.1 million Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center simultaneously going up across the street at 155 Michigan St. NW, Koster said he is happy to see some focus returning to the north side of downtown.

Aside from a few structural bumps, the project has been smooth sailing.

“We had seven or eight structural things come up,” he said. “But those are to be expected. We had them in the budget and timing. It’s typical.

“But we’ve dug up everything we’ll dig up. The major risks are behind us.”

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