When Christine Carson, residential property manager for CWD Real Estate Investment, decided to convert some units at The Rowe and The Gallery in downtown Grand Rapids to corporate guest suites, she had no way of knowing the move would serve as a necessary temporary residence during a pandemic that forced hotels to close.
Carson helped to convert two apartments each in The Rowe and The Gallery a little over a year ago. The Rowe has 77 apartments and The Gallery has 56 apartments.
The converted apartments have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and are fully furnished, including queen-size beds. The master bedroom has a bathroom with a walk-in shower and the guest room has a bathroom with a tub.
“I noticed that there was a growing need for short-term rentals in Grand Rapids,” she said. “With hospitals being in the area and bigger companies coming into the area, I was getting a lot of requests for one-month rentals, monthly leases. So, I took an idea that I saw in Chicago and brought it to our buildings to do like an Airbnb-style corporate suite.”
There were cancellations for scheduled stays for corporate meetings and other business operations that required a temporary residence in the city due to the stay-at-home order in Michigan. Nevertheless, Carson said there were individuals who were quarantined in the corporate suites.
Due to COVID-19, AHC+Hospitality consolidated all hotel services to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. The JW Marriott Grand Rapids, AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown and the Courtyard by Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown are temporarily closed.
While the minimum stay is a month, some guests have stayed up to five months and Carson said repeat customers already have returned. Prices are usually $4,000 per month and include all utilities, as well as complete furnishings and entertainment options like Hulu Live and Amazon Prime.
Although the corporate suites only have been available for a little over a year, Carson said the busiest time during that period was during the winter months.
As businesses and companies start to resume their normal operations, she said CWD is expecting more temporary residents.
Carson said there is a possibility CWD will convert more apartments into corporate suites, but those decisions will not be made before the end of the year. Nevertheless, she is pleased with how the first year went.
“It is nice to see that the corporate suites have been so well received downtown,” she said. “I have only heard positive things about them, so it has been a really good experiment to introduce that into downtown.”