15-acre development underway in Byron Center


The $10-million, 51,000-square-foot building will have three floors for office and retail tenants. Rendering courtesy Tony Basile

A private developer is constructing a multibuilding, mixed-use development south of town that will include a hotel and senior living facility.

The new JBB Place development is underway on more than 15 acres in Byron Center, on the corner of Byron Center Avenue and 64th Street, at 6420-6514 Byron Center Ave. SW.

Buildings underway include the 84,800-square-foot Trilogy Health Services senior living and medical facility, a 51,000-square-foot, three-story office and retail building and a Home2 Suites Hilton hotel, according to owner and developer Tony Basile, president of Chicago Diversified Foods.

Plans also include at least two “high-end” restaurants and a Michigan bank is “very seriously” considering leasing.

Between land purchase and $2.7 million in readiness work, plus an estimated $12 million to $14 million for the hotel and budgeted $10 million for the office building, Basile conservatively estimates he has invested $30 million into the site, not including Trilogy’s investment or any buildings yet to begin.

Something to be proud of

Basile sees the development as a family legacy project and named it after the initials of his wife, Joan Barker Basile, who owns the company through a trust.

Leaving his mark on West Michigan, Tony Basile said his plan is for a quality development.

During planning for the project a couple years ago, he said he had several meetings with the property’s concerned neighbors.

“I tried to explain to them that I don't do things just to make money,” Basile said. “I do things because I enjoy creating things, and if I do them right, then I'll make money. But the motivation is to do things I'm proud of.”

That’s why Basile said he plans to maintain ownership of the entire property, except for the 5 acres he sold to Trilogy, signing ground leases between companies or developing buildings himself.

“I could sell every one of those lots by the end of this week or tomorrow if I wanted,” he said. “I won’t sell the lots because I want to control what goes there and what it looks like so that I keep my word to the residents.”

He said a lot of developers start projects in debt and then need to build and sell quickly. He bought the land and infrastructure with cash, so there is no debt on the undetermined parcels.

“I have the luxury of not having to rush into anything,” he said. “I want to do it right so when it's done, I'm proud of what's there.”

As with the development underway, Basile said he puts a lot of care into all his projects. He still owns 45 of the 50 Taco Bell restaurants he has built in West Michigan.

“And I have no intention of selling,” he said.

Business in West Michigan

Based in Chicago, Basile is no stranger to West Michigan.

He said he has been doing business here for 35 years and recently sold a house in Richland — about 10 miles northeast of Kalamazoo — he owned for 15 years.

He also is good friends with Wolverine North America President Mike Houseman, who he said has built virtually all his projects in the area and is building the Trilogy and office buildings now.

Besides Wolverine, Basile said he has worked a lot in West Michigan with David Stafford, who oversees work on the Taco Bell franchises and is doing the same with JBB Place; Colliers International; and Robert Lotzar of Martin Commercial Properties, who is seeking tenants for JBB Place that fit Basile’s standards.

“The relationships I have in West Michigan are long, deep, close relationships with people I trust. That’s why I do business there,” Basile said.

Projects so far

Louisville, Kentucky-based Trilogy Health Services purchased the 84,800-square-foot building with plans to create an assisted living and medical facility.

Construction started on the project late last year and should be finished later this year.

Trilogy said the two-story facility will contain 107 rooms, including assisted living, memory care, and post-acute health care services apartments on the first floor, and independent living apartments on the second floor.

Basile said they were placed at the back of the property to set the homes away from the road and other activity.

“Before I sold the property, I did some research on Trilogy and I was very impressed with the quality of the operation they have with senior-assisted living,” Basile said. “So I’m very comfortable that whatever they do will be first class.”

Sitting on about 2 acres, each floor of the three-story office building will contain 17,000 square feet. Basile said no tenants have confirmed, but there is an oral surgery group and a health insurance company interested. Construction began recently and should be complete in August.

Basile said he toured a new Home2 Suites Hilton hotel built by a friend in Orlando.

“I was so impressed I said I’ve got to build one of these in Michigan,” he said. "I was impressed enough that I’m investing a lot of money to build one. They're not cheap."

JBB Place’s Home2 Suites Hilton hotel parcel is about 2.3 acres. Basile said he has paid the franchise fee and has been approved for the original three-story plan, but he is waiting on township approval for a fourth story, as suggested by the hotel brand.

The hotel will have about 94 rooms if it’s three stories or about 114 rooms if it’s four stories. Each floor will be 13,630 square feet. The hotel will have an indoor swimming pool and ground floor conference room.

Once approved, he said construction should take about eight or nine months.

To build a project, Basile said he uses a revolving line of credit from a national bank, which he said is at $15 million but can be raised when needed. Once the project is built, he takes out a term loan — usually from a local bank — to pay off the building in 20 or 25 years.

“I’m a strong believer in building the business locally and having the relationship locally,” he said, adding he’s in discussions now with local banks for the building underway.

If everything goes as planned, he expects all projects to be finished in 2020, but that depends on when the businesses with the best fit come forward.

The corner of Byron Center Avenue and 64th Street is the most desirable location for visibility, Basile said, but he also wants to make sure the business there represents the atmosphere he is trying to establish for the property. He’s already turned away or redirected several interested groups for that parcel, including a restaurant group “willing to pay good money” and a couple gas station companies because he believes they wouldn’t have been a fit.

“It’s going to be a balanced project with all of the tenants complementing each other in some way,” Basile said.

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