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Netvantage Marketing touts Grand Rapids as a city where technology businesses can thrive

A year after opening its Grand Rapids office, East Lansing-based Netvantage Marketing has leased additional office space and brought on two full-time employees in Grand Rapids Tech Hub, an office community created specifically for technology and design entrepreneurs above San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 W. Fulton St.).  

Netvantage Marketing is not a web development company, but works with individual clients and outside web developers to market websites through search engines, using search engine optimization (SEO). Adam Henige, a co-owner with Joe Ford, says Netvantage Marketing provides the expertise to get websites higher rankings in Google searches, making them easier for new and existing customers to find.

"We've just come off our best January ever in the history of the company (founded 2008)," Henige says. "A lot of business development meetings are coming up because a lot of web developers need our expertise added to theirs, and we need their web development added to our expertise. It's the number one reason we've had a very, very busy 2013 so far."

The Grand Rapids location began with just one 200-square-foot office in the Grand Rapids Tech Hub, Henige says, but has doubled in size to accommodate two employees who relocated from East Lansing. Although the company operates from minimal square footage, Henige says the Tech Hub includes plenty of conference room and space to meet with clients when needed, and an energetic atmosphere.

"This is an exciting spot to be in," Henige says, "because everyone up here is a young company and very techie."

Source: Adam Henige, Netvantage Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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The Rapid awarded LEED Gold for environmental advances at new $31M operations center

Grand Rapids' transit system, The Rapid, has once again received national recognition for its environmental conscience in new building construction. This week, The Rapid received the U.S. Green Building Council's second-highest certification, LEED Gold, for the renovation and expansion of its operations center (333 Wealthy St. SW).

The LEED award is the organization's second LEED achievement. Rapid Central Station qualified for LEED certification in 2006, the first transit station in the nation to receive the designation.

The expansion doubled the size of the former operations center, bringing it to some 280,000 square feet, which houses the dispatch center, a training center, and storage and maintenance for over 150 buses.

Notable environmental features of the building include a bus wash water reclamation system that saves nearly nine million gallons of water per year; a 40,000-square-foot green roof; increased day light, natural light, and natural ventilation; radiant floor heating in the garage; and high-speed garage doors.

"Grand Rapids has all these sustainability initiatives and has been designated as a sustainable city by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and that adds more status to the city," says The Rapid CEO Peter Varga. "I think it raises the national profile of us as a city. For The Rapid, our conservation of water and electricity, the resistance of our green roof to degradation because it will last three times as long as a standard roof -- for us, there's a balance that's worthwhile because the upfront costs always get repaid over time."

Besides the LEED achievement, the financial numbers are also impressive. The project, which received $10.7 million in federal stimulus money and $17 million in federal transportation funding, was projected to cost $32.4 million, yet came in $1 million under budget.

Source: Peter Varga, The Rapids
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Agent X says its new collaborative workspace at 38 Commerce is "a lot more fun"

Coming to work and plugging into a different workspace everyday has become the norm for employees at Agent X, a Grand Rapids branding and visual experience firm. The company relocated its 10 employees to 1,700 square feet in "38," a contemporary building at 38 Commerce Ave. SW in Heartside.

"You can have a lot more fun when people can work in open environments," says owner Brian Steketee, adding that even he doesn't have a permanent office. "Our team loves it. We have some quiet areas where we can go and focus, but a lot of our work is collaborative and involves a lot of different people. The new setup helps the project flow."

Steketee says the new space is set up with "hotel" workspaces, where a project manager and the rest of the team can plug laptops and phones into technology-laden desks that can accommodate two to five people -- each station has monitors and keyboards at the ready.

The office is on the main level, with storefront windows that stretch along Commerce Avenue. Besides the open workspaces and TV monitors throughout, there is a kitchen area, a conference room, and two small meeting rooms with white boards where technologists and user experience specialists can connect with clients remotely or with the company's satellite office in St. Louis, MO.

"I love the fact that we're headquartered in Grand Rapids," Steketee says. "I think the cost of living in Grand Rapids and access is great. We can still provide groundbreaking solutions to our clients and we can do it at a competitive rate. And there's more and more great talent making its way here."

Source: Brian Steketee, Agent X
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids Junior Achievement Building lands anchor tenant, long-awaited restoration to begin

It's been vacant and decaying for 15 years, and after multiple attempts by various developers to renovate the iconic Junior Achievement Building at one of Grand Rapids' most prominent intersections, Locus Development announced today that architectural firm TowerPinkster will be the anchor tenant, moving all 25 of its employees to the city center.

The building, with a new address of 4 E. Fulton, is just blocks from three multi-million dollar preservation and construction projects TowerPinkster was involved with: the LEED Gold-certified Kendall College of Art & Design’s Historic Federal Building, the Kent County Courthouse, and the renovation of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

After TowerPinkster landed the contract for the design and engineering of 4 E. Fulton, the company decided it was the perfect place to relocate from its temporary offices in Byron Center, says TowerPinkster CEO Arnie Mikon.

"I think if you go to almost any city around the world, most of the leaders are downtown and we wanted to be where the leaders are," Mikon says. "In addition to that are all of the things you've heard the governor talking about with developing communities and keeping talent downtown. We feel we'll be better able to attract the talent we want, and we're in a creative profession so we want to be closer to the arts community."

TowerPinkster will occupy the entire second floor, some 7,500 square feet, of the building. Mikon did not disclose the company's financial investment in renovating the space to LEED Gold for Commercial Interiors, but Locus Development's John Green, owner and developer of the building, says his company's investment is $3 million.

"About 40,000 cars a day that pass through that intersection," Green says. "Yet [people] can't see the vision. We hope to draw multiple retailers -- the building is designed to have a number of storefronts. We also have a lower level with tall ceilings and could provide an opportunity to become an entertainment venue."

The exterior of the building will remain much the same due to historic preservation rules. The interior design will honor the building's Art Deco style, yet have a contemporary appeal. Demolition has begun and TowerPinkster hopes to move in by late 2013.

Architect and engineer: TowerPinkster
Construction: Pioneer Construction

Source: Arnie Mikon, Matt Slagle, TowerPinkster; John Green, Locus Development; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Aaron Boot

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Grand Rapids' Bread Square Bakery plans to offer vegan baked goods for wholesale, walk-in customers

Matthew Russell arrived for our interview at the location for the proposed Bread Square Bakery (8 Jefferson Ave. SE) on his bike, glasses slightly fogged from the cold air. He carefully unstrapped a bakery box from the bike and we moved inside. The box, filled with samples of dark brown bread, colorful frosted cupcakes, and huge sandwich-style cookies, infused the air with scents of cinnamon and chocolate.

Bread Square Bakery is part of Bartertown Diner, a popular and unique vegan restaurant next door, and Russell is one of the employee-owners in the venture. He guides the restaurant's Internet presence and supplies the eatery with vegan cookies from his side business, Wednesday Evening Cookies. Soon, he'll head up the baking at Bread Square Bakery.

As a journalism student at Western Michigan University, Russell cooked for himself. Meat was pricey and he didn't eat packaged foods, so he bought what he could afford. It took a while before he realized he was eating a vegetarian diet. After that, he studied vegetarianism and decided to pursue it in earnest.

"When I moved to Grand Rapids, I started Wednesday Evening Cookies for a group bike ride around town every Wednesday night," Russell says. "People [from the rides] started ordering cookies from me. It's just grown from there."

Russell says it makes sense for Bartertown Diner to have its own bakery that can provide wholesale vegan baked goods to its own customers, as well as to area restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and walk-in customers. While the restaurant's plan is to continue buying certain baked goods from existing suppliers, Bread Square Bakery will provide some of its vegan and gluten-free breads, cupcakes, and cookies to keep costs down.

The bakery will occupy the rear 750 square feet of 8 Jefferson. The Bloom Collective will occupy the front third. Customers will enter the bakery off the back alley where Russell hopes to add a small patio. The alley is accessible by foot or bike from Jefferson SE and from Fulton St. NE.

Russell hopes to have the bakery open by late spring.

Source: Matthew Russell, Wednesday Evening Cookies and Bread Square Bakery
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Long vacant space in Grand Rapids' Heartside is "right space, right fit" for new promotions firm

The owners of Creative Studio Promotions say that, after months of searching for office space in downtown Grand Rapids, a long-vacant location in Heartside is the "right space, right fit" for the company and its staff of eight.

Ann Vidro and Menda Wright launched Creative Studio Promotions in June 2012 out of temporary space at Davenport University. When they looked at their future space at 25 Jefferson Ave. SE, it had been vacant for three years and was in need of an image. The pair rehabbed the space with industrial finishes, slat walls, and bright colors and opened on Sept. 1, just in time to entertain clients during ArtPrize 2012.

Wright says her expertise as a sales rep and Vidro's experience as a CPA have given them a combined 30 years of background in preparation for this endeavor. They launched the company with several clients already on board, and have since created several e-commerce sites clients use to promote and manage their arsenal of promotional items. Two of those sites are Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and Priority Health.

"Instead of having a closet full of logo products, we manage that for you," Wright says. "We have our own warehouse partner, Advanced Fulfillment. Clients and their employees and agents can log on and order for trade shows or meetings, and have it shipped to the show, to the client, or to their home, and we track the inventory here."

Wright says the company also designs specific products for clients to help promote a particular message. They can also recycle client's products into new logo items for a specific audience.

Source: Menda Wright, Creative Studio Promotions
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Preservation of century-old 4-plex brings new apartments to SE Grand Rapids' Tapestry Square

It might have been easier to raze and rebuild a circa 1915 four-plex on Grand Rapids' southeast side, but the building's character in a neighborhood with just a few stable older buildings is irreplaceable. So, the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) chose to invest $540,000 in the reconstruction of 528 Sheldon Ave. SE.

Jonathan Bradford, CEO of ICCF, the nonprofit leading the charge to redevelop a neglected area of housing now called Tapestry Square (four blocks bounded by Wealthy St. on the north, Division Avenue on the west, Buckley St. on the south and LaGrave Avenue on the east) says the stability of the building meant it should stay in the neighborhood.

Bradford says an absentee landlord "'re-muddled' the building in the mid-1980s and basically threw away any kind of historic character it had."

To fix that, the building was jacked up four feet off the foundation, the foundation was excavated and rebuilt with poured concrete wall and new footings, and the structure was settled on the new foundation. The inside was gutted and rebuilt. The roof, which was the wrong pitch, was rebuilt and replaced, and the outside clad in cement board siding and painted.

Each unit has three small bedrooms -- the original configurations -- and all four units are leased. Tenants will move in at the end of the month.

Bradford says construction students from Grand Rapids Community College worked on the project as part of their training.

A ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. today celebrates the completion of the project.

Source: Jonathan Bradford, Inner City Christian Federation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Central Lofts opens new doors for people seeking downtown Grand Rapids living spaces

A once vacant and decaying brick warehouse just east of downtown Grand Rapids' popular entertainment district has a new life as a vibrant apartment community. The former Grand Central Engineering Co. (100 Commerce Ave. SW) is now 31 modern, daylight-filled apartments known as Grand Central Lofts.

Developer Doug Gulker of Gulker Group and Fusion Properties says his experience leasing the three- and four-bedroom units at Hopson Flats just across town convinced him that many renters looking to live downtown wanted smaller one- and two-bedroom units. That prompted him to buy the Grand Central building a few years back -- he then had to stall development until the economy recovered enough for banks to take a risk on the project.

His $3 million investment seems to have paid off, since he says 22 of the apartments were preleased. Folks were moving in as we toured the building this week.

"This building sat vacant for 15 years," Gulker says. "This and Rockford Construction's (GRid70) project across the street finishes off the redevelopment of this part of the Commerce Avenue corridor."

The building offers open living areas with bamboo floors, three-piece bathrooms, views of the city from the upper levels, and a modern laundry room and bike storage areas in the lower level. Gulker says two ground-floor apartments are fully accessible and A.D.A. compliant.

"Everybody here likes this location because they don't have to have a vehicle downtown," says Property Manager Alisa Burgess.

Some 1,500-square-feet of commercial space opens to the corner of Commerce Avenue SW and Oakes St. SW and has two levels with a walkout. Gulker says the space could be an ideal location for a coffee shop to serve the hundreds of students, teachers, and workers who frequent Cooley Law School, The Pyramid Scheme, and the Heart of West Michigan United Way, all within steps of the front door.

Developer: Fusion Properties
Construction manager: Gulker Group
Architectural design: Hooker DeJong

Source: Doug Gulker, Fusion Properties and Gulker Group; Alisa Burgess, Fusion Properties
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Not your average cupcake shop, Stiletto Sweets brings sweet sophistication to downtown Grand Rapids

It's not your girly-girly purple-and-pink-swirls cupcake shop, but a sophisticated space decorated in black and white where unusual cupcakes reign supreme.

Stiletto Sweets, a pop-up shop dedicated to selling only delicious cupcakes in tantalizing taste combinations, opened last week at 20 N. Monroe Center, right across from Monument Park. Owner Noddea Skidmore started by creating her cupcakes and party cakes sensations as special orders for events. But after winning $5,000 in a recent Start Garden competition, she decided to try the tiny 650-square-foot location in the heart of downtown as a part-time, pop-up shop venture.

Skidmore doesn't shy away from long hours -- she works full-time as an events producer for ArtPrize and bakes her cupcakes at night using the licensed kitchen at Saburba restaurant in Ada. And she draws on her experience as a former bridal stylist and as a former freelance calligrapher to inspire the artistry behind her special-order cupcakes and cakes.

"Stiletto Sweets is very specifically a cupcakery," Skidmore says. "Each day we're open, we present five different cupcakes. We combined the notion of a cake shop and an art gallery. People say they're too pretty to eat. They're like art, and we have them displayed like art."

Skidmore says two of the shop's 20 cupcake flavors vie for most popular: PMS (yes, that's what it means), made with chocolate cake, caramel drizzle, vanilla buttercream, chocolate chips and sea salt; and Red Velvet Redhead made with red velvet cake, chocolate ganache, and cream cheese buttercream.

Some of the other cleverly named creations are Sexpot, Warm Fuzzy, Chai Baby, Jack and Coke, and Boys' Night. Click here to see the entire menu with descriptions.

Hours: Thurs., Fri., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 5 p.m. until the cupcakes are gone. Sat. from 11 a.m. until the cupcakes are gone.

Source: Noddea Skidmore, Stiletto Sweets
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Bryan Frank

Grand Rapids Brewing Company to open $2M microbrewery with Michigan's first certified-organic brews

The final paperwork for the organic certification process through the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be complete this week. With that, the Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC) at 1 Ionia Ave. SW will open the doors to Michigan's first certified-organic brewery.  

Mark Sellers, co-owner of Barfly Ventures, which owns GRBC, HopCat, Stella's Lounge, and other Grand Rapids bars, says the brewery will open with 10 certified-organic brews on tap.

The 15,000-square-foot brewery/restaurant celebrates its official opening Dec. 5 in the totally renovated main level of the structure that combines 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW.

Sellers says the inspiration for the organic brewery hit him after he visited Pisgah Brewing Company, an organic brewery in Black Mountain, NC.

"It was a great brewery and I didn't even know it was an organic brewery until after I was there," Sellers says. "I thought, organic beer doesn't taste any different. I looked into the feasibility of doing organic brewing in Michigan, and we figured out a way to do it." He adds that some of the hops are Michigan-grown, and the grains and malts are from Midwest farms.

GRBC will open with a well-rounded beer menu that includes a brown ale, an IPA, a Hefeweizen, a fruit beer, a stout, a porter, and the brewery's signature pilsner-style, Silver Foam. A full food menu includes house-made sausage, burgers, and foods from local farms and suppliers.

Sellers is especially proud that the design and construction of the brewery is by Grand Rapids- and Michigan-based companies and artisans -- down to the tables, bar, and furniture -- including:

•    Architectural design: Lott3Metz, Grand Rapids.
•    Construction management: Mark Schaafsma Design Build, Caledonia.
•    Interior design: David Dodde, Grand Rapids.
•    Tabletops from wood floor joists reclaimed from 1 and 7 Ionia: Jay Ubelous, Against the Grain Concepts, Lansing.
•    Table legs for some of the tables (using the old fire protection system from the building): Harry Goossens, Total Fire Protection.
•    Bar top and back bar: Marc Wiegers of Greenwood Studio, Grand Rapids.
•    Chairs: handmade at CND Products, Grand Rapids.
•    Kitchen/bar equipment: Franklin Food Service Equipment & Supply, Holland.
•    Draft system: Quality Draft Systems, Grand Rapids.
•    Brewing system: designed and built by Craftwerk Brewing Systems, Lake Orion.

Source: Mark Sellers, Barfly Ventures; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids electronics recycler opens resale e-store on city's southwest side

If you're looking for a bargain in refurbished computers, laptops, audio systems, or gaming systems, Comprenew's new e-store could be your playground. The new storefront at 453 S. Division Ave. follows on the success of an established store at 1454 28th St SE.

Comprenew recycles some 300,000 lbs. of discarded electronics a month, says Marketing Director Paul Kehoe, and part of that recycling push is to refurbish and sell the 15 to 20 percent of the intake that is marketable.

"Our shelves are full," Kehoe says. "Laptops and flat screen displays are big sellers and our inventory is strong. People have upgraded their electronics to new models, and the things they recycle with us are in great condition."

Comprenew gets its recycled electronics through community and corporate recycling events and from area residents who drop off their unwanted electronics at the recycling center (629 Ionia Ave. SW). Certified repair technicians refurbish the top products for resale in both stores. The mix of inventory depends on the items recycled, and Kehoe says it can include VCRs, turntables, and vintage stereo systems.

Kehoe says the S. Division store is in a century-old building. A three-month renovation readied the space for the sale of today's electronics while maintaining the vintage atmosphere with the aged wood floors and original brick walls.

E-store hours (both locations): Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Source: Paul Kehoe, Comprenew
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Two downtown parks seek new ways to honor Grand Rapids' casualties of war

Two downtown Grand Rapids parks honoring the area's military who died in wars dating from the Civil War through Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War in Afghanistan are part of a study to determine how to upgrade the aging parks and include spaces of reverence for the war memorials there.

A steering committee comprised of residents, veterans, and city parks and recreation leaders has begun the task of assessing the condition of the landscapes and war memorials in Monument Park (northeast corner of Fulton St. and Division Avenue) and the adjacent Veterans Memorial Park (bounded by E. Fulton on the south, Park NE on the east, Library St. on the north, and Sheldon Avenue on the west).

According to steering committee chairman Christopher Reader, the project proposes to gather recommendations from monument preservation specialists, landscape designers, and the public.

"The area around the monuments is kind of like a sacred space," Reader says. "You want it to be special and different. How do you delineate between the sacred space and the public space? How do you tell the story of the conflicts that the memorials represent?"

Monument Park features a monument to the Civil War and a series of historical plaques. Veterans Memorial Park has monuments to WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Purple Heart monument, a bust of Longfellow, a bust of Grand Rapids philanthropist Thomas D. Gilbert (a driving force behind the creation of Monument Park), a fountain, a concrete plaza, and lights -- all of which are aging. Many have been vandalized.

"The community's expectation as to how those spaces may want to function in the future may look different [than when the parks were built]," says Jay Steffen, director of Grand Rapids parks and recreation.

"We want to honor the veterans," Reader says. "That's our first priority."

Public focus group meetings are planned for November. More information, including dates, locations, and progress, will be available soon on a website accessible through the city's planning department web page.

Source: Christopher Reader, Parks Steering Committee; Jay Steffen, Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Microbrewery, $7M apartments nearing completion in Grand Rapids' entertainment district

The 10,000-square-foot Grand Rapids Brewing Company pub and microbrewery under construction is what passersby notice on the corner of Ionia Avenue SW and W. Fulton St. in downtown Grand Rapids. But sitting above on the fifth floor is the new 1-bedroom apartment model for the $7 million urban dwelling project that combines the buildings at 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW -- a project that's nearing its November 20 opening.

A walk through the buildings on a chilly September morning reveals dozens of workmen in hard hats unloading lumber, running electric lines and painting amid the din of hammers, saws and sanders. But inside the apartment model with its windows overlooking both Ionia and Fulton, it's quiet, tidy and sunny.

"All of the apartments have views over either Fulton Street, Ionia or the Van Andel Arena," says Monica Clark, director of community development for 616 Development, the developer of the apartment project. "I love the old-meets-new look. The old brick with the new granite up against it is awesome."

The two buildings, now combined by entryways through the common wall, will soon have 26 one- and two-bedroom loft apartments, all with higher end finishes like granite countertops and hardwood floors. Prices range from $1,000/mo. to $1,450/mo., and the apartments on the fourth floor of 7 Ionia will have two levels with a loft bedroom above.

"We own, manage and develop for ourselves," says 616 Development Owner Derek Coppess. "You take care of your own stuff the best. Urban living is coming back to where it was before people moved to the suburbs."

Coppess recently announced his plans to develop the historic Kendall Building on Monroe Center NE, his fourth Grand Rapids development, and says he's working on 269 Lofts in Kalamazoo.

The apartment model, staged by Stone's Throw Furniture, is open during ArtPrize. 616 Lofts is accepting lease applications now.

Coppess says the Grand Rapids Brewing Company, owned by Mark Sellers, is on schedule for a late fall opening.

Apartment design and construction: First Companies
    
Source: Derek Coppess and Monica Clark, 616 Lofts and 616 Development
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority okays $36M apartment development in Heartside

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority approved the creation of a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) for the proposed construction of an estimated $36 million apartment development on the city's south side in Heartside.

The development, proposed for vacant properties at 205 S. Division Ave., 26 Cherry St. SW and 240 Ionia Ave. SW, is a new project by Midland-based Brookstone Capital, LLC, developers of millions of dollars in housing in Serrano Lofts, 101 S. Division, Metropolitan Park Apartments and other projects in Heartside.

Combined, the three new buildings could bring over 130 new affordable and market rate apartments to an area undergoing a surge of development.

"Eighty percent of the apartments are for people making 60 percent of the area median income -- they have to be bringing in a paycheck," says Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kristopher Larson. "It will be mixed income, with a market-rate component for 20 percent of the units."

Unlike zoning, which stays with the property and not the development project, the PILOT is approved for the property improvement project only, says Larson. The DDA and Grand Rapids City Commission both approved this pilot for 40 years at 205 S. Division Ave. and 26 Cherry St. SW, and 35 years at 240 Ionia Ave. SW.

Larson says the PILOT means that "instead of the new tax increment that would have been collected coming to us (the DDA), a large portion of it is abated to contribute to the operational costs in developing workforce housing."

The PILOT paves the way for Brookstone Capital, LLC to be part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Program. Brookstone also seeks State of Michigan Brownfield Tax Credits.

At press time, Brookstone Capital had not returned Rapid Growth's request for comment.

Source: Kristopher Larson, Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority; agenda packet information from Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority meeting of Sept. 12, 2012
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Finally, Grand Rapids' historic Kendall Building on $4M journey from crumbling to renewal

If Derek Coppess's plans work out, the regeneration of the dilapidated historic Kendall Building in downtown Grand Rapids will begin in 30 days -- a venture that could infuse a neglected, yet vital, corner of the downtown core with renewed vibrancy and energy.

The Kendall Building (16 Monroe Center Ave. NE) sits next to longtime business Reynolds & Sons Sporting Goods and overlooks the intersection of Fulton St. and Division Avenue. Coppess and his 616 Development plan to bring $3 million in new retail spaces, 12 market rate apartments, and his own company to the circa 1880 structure. This, in conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority's proposed renovation of the adjacent Monument Park, could continue the shift of one of the city's major gateways from desolate to thriving.

Coppess paid $750,000 for the five-story building.

"Placemaking is a real buzz word, and the beauty of making a place is to fill the places with people," Coppess says. "We think the upper floors have been vacant three to four decades; it's a little bit frozen in time."

He adds that, in addition to the recent construction of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and the creation of The Gallery Apartments, both at Fulton and Division, "MoDiv helped bring people further down Monroe Center. The Children's Museum is great, and if we get [Monument] Park done into a great new green space, and with the old JA Building across the street under the control of some really great developers (Locus Development), the energy coming in and out of our building will create a lot of energy and harmony on that corner."

Construction plans include a rooftop deck, a large media/gathering room in the basement (which has original brick floors), and re-use of many of the building's architectural elements. Those elements include iced-glass dental office doors with hand-painted signage on them, which will be reinvented as barn-style sliding doors for the apartments.

Architect: Lott3Metz
Construction manager: First Companies

Source: Derek Coppess, 616 Development; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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