Downtown forecast looks positive


Maplegrove is prepping to open its 234 Market Avenue Apartments in downtown Grand Rapids in July. Courtesy Maplegrove Property Management

Construction continues to be a common sight in the city of Grand Rapids.

Mike Mraz, managing partner of real estate development for Rockford Construction, said the current climate in the downtown area and the near neighborhoods has been showing growth, and he predicts a positive forecast for the city’s residential market.

“The downtown market continues to grow, as (evident) by the number of projects under construction currently, as well as the announcements of many new projects,” Mraz said.

One of the property management companies that has been active in the city is Maplegrove Property Management. One of the apartment complexes it manages, the Kingsley Building at 1415 Lake Drive SE in Eastown, recently re-opened earlier this year after undergoing redevelopment.

David Emdin, chief operating officer of Maplegrove Property Management, said the Kingsley Building opened in mid-March and only four units — two apartments and two offices — out of its entire 41 units currently are vacant.

“We have a 94 percent (occupancy rate), and the building was just opened in March and that is an incredible absorption rate,” he said.

Maplegrove is prepping to open its 234 Market Avenue Apartments in downtown Grand Rapids in July. Emdin said the property already is being sought after.

“We are very pleased with the way that the project has been leasing up,” Emdin said. “We are almost double our projection for the last six months on lease up. There are 235 apartments and 30,000 square feet of office space.”

According to city of Grand Rapids Administrative Analyst Brooke Hovenkamp, 377 downtown units between six buildings were added from 2016 to 2017.

Mraz said the revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids has contributed to the growth of new projects in the city.

“Interest in living in the urban core has spurred multifamily developments in downtown and near neighborhoods,” Mraz said. “Tourism and convention travel is driving new hotels. Businesses wanting to be located near amenities, such as entertainment and restaurants, allows for growth in the office market.”

He said some of his buildings’ occupants come from a variety of locations and demographics.

“Some are starting new jobs in Grand Rapids and have relocated from other cities, while others live downtown but work in the suburbs,” Mraz said. “Some are living on their own for the first time.”

He said over 95 percent of their properties are leased. He also said Rockford has many “multifamily units in the current pipeline.”

“We’ll see what the market will look like when they are all delivered,” Mraz said. “Continued growth of quality jobs will only help to bolster the market.”

Rachel Lubahn, marketing and communication manager for Maplegrove, said the amount of construction in Grand Rapids speaks to the vitality of the community.

“To know that there is a growing amount of jobs downtown and to know why they are coming and then having places for them to live, work and spend time is incredible,” she said. “We feel as though we can provide an avenue for that, as well as the other properties that are downtown. It says a lot about the strength of the Grand Rapids community and the downtown area that people still want to come.”

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