Developer plans to convert urban church into apartments


Courtesy City of Grand Rapids

A developer is planning to redevelop a vacant Grand Rapids church into apartments.

The Grand Rapids City Commission recently approved a brownfield plan amendment that will allow a developer to renovate a former church building and provide more housing opportunities in the city’s Creston neighborhood.

Rasa Lofley, a developer working under 111 Halo, LLC, plans to divide the former Saint James Lutheran Church building at 445 Knapp St. NE into five three-story apartments, which feature loft bedrooms in the upper part of the sanctuary, as well as bedrooms in the basement area. 

The 76-year-old church building is owned by 111 Halo, LLC.

The $2.6-million project also includes the construction of a two-story building in the parking lot east of the church for nine rental units.

The proposed rents range from $1,200 for one-bedroom units to $1,500 per month for two-bedroom units.

“This redevelopment project is significant,” said Kara Wood, managing director of economic development services, City of Grand Rapids. “It provides much-needed additional housing stock, revitalizes highly visible vacant land and converts the property into housing that can generate approximately $4,320 in new city income taxes annually.” 

With the brownfield plan amendment, the developer will be reimbursed via tax increment financing for eligible activities associated with the project, including demolition, lead and asbestos abatement, site preparation and public infrastructure improvement.

Wood said redevelopment will begin as quickly as possible, with the hope to have construction complete by next spring.

Cascade Township-based a.j. Veneklasen, Inc. is the general contractor on the project.

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