$8 million apartment complex proposed in northeast Grand Rapids


Clancy Lofts needs some zoning changes before it can move ahead, but developers are hoping to complete the project by August 2015. Courtesy Nederveld

The Grand Rapids City Commission this week will consider a rezoning request in the Belknap Lookout neighborhood to allow a new apartment complex kitty-corner from Grand Valley State University’s planned 11-acre health campus expansion on the north side of the Ford Freeway near the Medical Mile.

Joe Modderman of RJM Properties is requesting the change to a Planned Redevelopment District for JB Holdings Clancy LLC, also known as Clancy Lofts. The plans are to build a multi-family apartment complex involving 13 parcels on most of the west side of Clancy Avenue between Trowbridge and Fairbanks streets.

Now zoned Traditional Neighborhoods-Low Density Residential, 12 existing houses would be removed for the construction of Clancy Lofts, which features three apartment buildings with 51 units and a rowhouse with 15 units. In 2013, Modderman proposed a different development project for the site, which was turned down by the Planning Commission and subsequently dropped by the developer.

Jason Vos, a spokesperson for RJM Properties, said the total planned investment in Clancy Lofts is $8 million, with the contractors/developer being RJM Properties and the architect RJM Properties/Schutter Custom Designs.

Vos said the timeline calls for construction starting in May with completion in August 2015. He said RJM has been working on this project for 18 months, and Elizabeth Zeller of the city Planning Department noted the developer has been working closely with the Neighbors of Belknap Lookout.

Zeller said rezoning the site to PRD would allow some flexibility within the zoning standards to address special concerns. A minimum lot size of five acres is required in a PRD, but Clancy Lofts would occupy only 1.3 acres. However, Zeller noted the Planning Commission recently approved a PRD that was smaller.

The complex would have a total of 158 bedrooms in 66 units, including 36 two-bedroom units and 20 three-bedroom units. Sixty-nine on-site parking spaces would be off an alley running north and south through the middle of the block on the west side of the development, with another 20 spaces on the street. A convenience store on one corner of the eastern half of the block will remain.

Last summer, GVSU announced its goal to build a new health services campus in the same neighborhood, east of the Clancy Lofts project. In November, the GVSU Board of Trustees approved the purchase of nearly 11 acres, with that site encompassing approximately five city blocks, bordered on the west by Clancy and on the north side by Trowbridge. The university already owns four acres adjacent to its Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences at Michigan and Lafayette streets, on the south side of the Ford Freeway.

“This plan is part of our vision and long-term strategy as a key player in health education. We’re obligated to anticipate and produce the health care providers our state needs for the future,” said GVSU President Thomas J. Haas.

After the November board meeting, the university said it needs more laboratories and classrooms to accommodate additional enrollment and for new health-related academic programs. In a press release, the university said the purchase price for the property will not exceed $18.9 million and tuition will not be raised to pay for it because the university has been planning and saving for the expanded health care programs.

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