Downtown developments: Please pre-lease me


Approximately 30 percent of the residential units in the new Arena Place Apartments were spoken for before the building even opened. Rendering courtesy DTN Management Co.

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) It’s no secret that the market for housing in downtown Grand Rapids is competitive. Demand has driven the development of apartment complexes and condominiums cropping up all over downtown. In some cases, units are being filled before they’re even built.

Pre-leasing, or signing a lease before construction or completion on a property, is becoming commonplace for new developments, especially downtown.

In the case of Arena Place Apartments, the residential portion of Orion Construction’s 11-story mixed-use Arena Place development at 55 Ottawa Ave. SW, prospective tenants could see model apartments next door at 25 Ottawa Ave. SW. A detailed list of amenities and customization options for each unit — floor plan, kitchen options, views, etc. — gave a comprehensive idea of what the apartments would look like once built.

In the pre-lease period, interested tenants could handpick any one of the 100 units available. With pre-leasing wrapping up, the six floors of residential units already are at 30 percent occupancy.

“To be at 30 percent occupancy without an actual building (completed) just speaks volumes in the interest in Arena Place and in the downtown area itself,” said Erica Gomez, property manager for Lansing-based DTN Management.

The first wave of tenants already has begun moving into Arena Place Apartments, and Gomez said she anticipates interest in the open units to continue growing as the building becomes more vibrant.

“We’re very excited,” she said. “It’s a living, breathing building now.”

The Rowe, a mixed-use development from CWD Real Estate Investment, is on track to be completed in late summer. In addition to anchor tenant Atwater Brewery, The Rowe offers 77 apartments and nine condominiums, and interest in leasing units at the property has been hot. A model apartment is featured on the ground floor for showing purposes.

Later this summer, pre-leasing will open for 36 residential units on the corner of Bridge Street and Turner Avenues, a Rockford Construction development in conjunction with New Holland Brewing Co.’s future Grand Rapids location at Bridge and Broadway Avenue.

The brewpub is slated to open this fall, with the apartments scheduled to open in December.

Rockford hopes pre-leasing for The Rowe follows in the successful footsteps of pre-leasing for The Morton, a 100-unit residential complex that opened in September following a $27 million renovation of the 93-year-old building.

In less than a year since re-opening, The Morton, 55 Ionia Ave. NW, is at 90 percent occupancy. Rockford Construction managing partner of real estate development Mike Mraz said there is a waiting list for several unit types.

“The response to The Morton has been outstanding,” Mraz said. “The location, level of service, and amenities create a truly unique living experience in the heart of our downtown.”

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