Post Has More Lots

August 30, 2007
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MUSKEGON--Gary Post, principal of Port City Construction and Development Services LLC, a partner in Western Avenue Properties and former president of Muskegon Construction Co., has a number of developments on his plate in the Muskegon Mall.

Along Clay Avenue between Second and First streets, Post is forwarding a unique brownstone townhouse project with a “live and work” theme marketed to professionals who seek the ease of townhouse living combined with the convenience and accessibility of an office or retail space on the home’s ground level.

Heritage Square Townhomes, a $5 million, 16-unit development, will offer four styles of units ranging in price from $250,000 to $350,000.

Post is optimistic that the downtown location, architecture, brick and stone exteriors, and multi-story floor plans will appeal to buyers. Square footages will range from 1,550 to 2,350 square feet. Unit features include porches, rounded staircases, optional elevators, bay windows overlooking the streetscape, decks, covered garages, and a shared common courtyard facing Western Avenue. Eileen McCormick of Real Estate West Michigan will manage sales and marketing of the units.

Post is hoping to break ground on the project yet this fall, although he is anticipating delays from the state’s brownfield tax incentive program.

While he is seeing interest in his other two Western Avenue Properties sites — the Daniels and Muskegon Savings Bank buildings — no plans for renovation have been announced.

“I’m a fairly small operator; I can’t have a whole lot on my plate,” Post said. “Now that we’ve got the Century Club done, I can turn my attention to the Savings Bank and the Daniels building. I’ve had strong interest in both. Now it’s just a matter of looking at the numbers.”

Rooks Brings Condo Magic

The Grand Rapids developer responsible for an estimated 75 percent of condominium sale closings in downtown Grand Rapids has planted his flag in Muskegon. The Downtown Muskegon Development Corp. has chosen Jonathon Rooks of Parkland Properties as the winner in the request for proposal process concerning the former Comerica Bank tower. Also known as the Hackley Building, the 88-year-old, eight-story structure on Western Avenue is Muskegon’s only “skyscraper.”

“We thought it would really make a difference to downtown Muskegon if there could be a great success story of a condo project being introduced and selling out quickly,” Rooks told the Business Journal.

“Every week in Muskegon, it seems like there is something new going on. It seems like it’s ready for the snowball effect that we’ve seen in downtown Grand Rapids the past few years.”

Rooks intends to develop the first floor as retail and restaurant space, the second floor as office space, and the remaining six floors as residential condominiums. He has also purchased two parcels adjacent to the tower, giving him a full block to develop between First and Jefferson streets. The estimated $8 million project will include at least one new mixed-use building and an additional 25 to 30 residential units.

Although Rooks is familiar with the lakeshore market as owner of two marinas, on White Lake and in Grand Haven, and asdeveloper of a 46-acre lakefront housing development in Spring Lake, this is his first venture in downtown Muskegon. For the project, he will use roughly the same model that drove his successful City View, Monroe Terrace, Union Square and Boardwalk condo projects. Boardwalk, the only project that has yet to sell out (Union Square initially sold out, but now has additional units available), has sold 154 units in the past 10 months.

Rooks plans on adding balconies and rooftop amenities to the Hackley Building, which has views of Lake Michigan on the upper levels. Like Union Square, it is located in a Ren Zone, and if granted an extension, could provide nearly tax-free status until 2022.

Rooks said it is likely that some of his Grand Rapids customers will purchase a Hackley Building condo as a vacation property.

“We’re going to have the powerful combination of Ren Zone status, adaptive reuse, cool old building, exterior access and free parking at a really good price point,” Rooks said.

“This is going to be a really exciting project.”

Other Projects In The Pipeline

There are three other developments moving slowing but surely toward a sale closing and eventual groundbreaking on the mall site.

The county of Muskegon has plans to move the Muskegon Area Transit System’s Herman Ivory Terminal on Morris Avenue one block south to the corner of Morris Avenue and Third Street. There it will build a combination bus terminal and parking ramp, a four-story structure funded in part by a $2.2 million federal earmark arranged by U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland.

J2 Development and Construction received preliminary site approval for 13 two-story townhome units and two mixed-use facilities in a $7.5 million project on 1.3 acres at Terrace Street and Western Avenue. Not to be confused with the LakeView Condos near Heritage Landing on the opposite side of downtown, LakeView Townhomes is the only development proposed for the north side of the mall. Designed by Nederveld & Associates of Grand Rapids, site plans for the project received approval from the Muskegon Planning Commission in April.

New Trend Investment LLC, an operating entity created by WinBerg Construction LLC in Montague, bought the former National City bank building on the corner of Second Street and Western Avenue at 333 W. Western Ave.

“We are planning to renovate it and solicit retail, restaurant —  the whole plethora of urban-type businesses,” said Bradley J. VanBergen, president of WinBerg Construction. “We’re in that core business district and it lends itself well to that. We want it to be a nice part of the larger downtown effort.”

WinBerg is ready to begin its renovation as soon as Consumers Energy can route electricity to the building. VanBergen has hopes to break ground yet this month.

The upper-level of the 15,000-square-foot structure will be renovated as office space with a skylight and potentially a rooftop garden. Current floor plans call for four retail suites on the ground floor of 1,500 to 2,500 square feet each. Interior units have access to Second Street. Detailed interior drawings were due to be completed last week by project designer Concept Design Studio in Norton Shores.

The structure also has a full basement with potential as commercial space.    

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