The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the City Commission have approved 15 brownfield projects since the start of 2011 — projects worth about $126 million in private investment.
Of the 15, three have been completed. Offsite Lake Drive LLC finished its renovation of 1415 Lake Drive SE last year. Charter Development also opened its elementary school at 944 Evergreen St. SE last year, and Rylee’s Ace Hardware opened its new store at 1205 W. Fulton St. a few months ago.
Seven other projects that were approved in 2011 and 2012 are currently under construction. One that was approved just in March of this year is also underway: Brookstone Capital of Midland began a $15 million, seven-story residential and retail building at 240 Ionia Ave. SE last month.
The authority and commission also approved a trio of brownfields in May.
One was awarded to Rockford Construction for a $2.4 million residential development at the corner of Douglas Street and Seward Avenue NW. Another went to G.A. Haan Development Co. of Harbor Springs for a $6.8 million conversion of a former elementary school at 2420 Coit Ave. NE into an assisted living center for seniors. The third went to Third Coast Development Partners for a $30.9 million project that will add a new hotel and office building to MidTowne Village along Michigan Street NE.
“Those three projects should start soon,” said Jonathan Klooster of the redevelopment authority.
“Other than the schools, there seems to be fewer speculative projects being done,” he added.
The schools Klooster referred to are the former Lexington and Eastern elementary buildings that GR School Lofts pledged to turn into housing complexes last year for about $10 million. The brownfields were awarded in February 2012, but work hasn’t started on either building.
GRBRA Executive Director Kara Wood told board members Brookstone Capital will likely submit an application for a brownfield that was awarded years ago to the Meridian Building Co. LLC for 20 E. Fulton, a parking lot situated between Division and Sheldon avenues at the east end of Monroe Center.
Brookstone Capital has plans to build a 14-story apartment complex with 9,000 square feet of ground-floor retail there at a cost of about $40 million.
20 Fulton LLC owns the property. The firm bought it in 2003 for $905,000, according to Kent County records. The lot covers 28,749 square feet — approximately two-thirds of an acre — and was listed at nearly $3 million. The ownership group reportedly has been restructured and was motivated to sell.
Kent County Commissioner Jim Talen reported that Karl Chew, principal of Brookstone Capital, showed a group of Heritage Hill residents his plan to build 42 affordable apartments at 345 State St. SE.
“He received lots of feedback requesting incorporation of street-level retail in order to conform to plans that are being finalized for the State Street corridor. Recent reports indicate that he is updating his plan to include ground-floor retail space,” wrote Talen in his weekly Kent County Update last week.
Stratus Properties LLC owns the commercial building at 345 State St. SE, according to county records. Stratus Properties bought the structure, once known as the Park Professional Building, in 2006 for $718,000.
In late 2007, Stratus planned to invest $4.5 million into renovating it and adding two floors to the two-story structure as part of its application with the Heritage Hill Association for a new Neighborhood Enterprise Zone for Heritage Square, an area just north of Cherry Street SE with about two dozen properties that could receive tax breaks from the designation.
An NEZ application has a better chance of being approved if it features a catalyst project, and Stratus filled that role with its plans for 345 State St. City commissioners approved the NEZ the following February, but just six months later, the financial market was thrown into chaos and lending stopped, and the building remains vacant.
The tax benefits from the NEZ, however, are still available for Brookstone Capital if it goes forward with a project there.
The State Street structure was built in 1956, has 29,400 square feet of space, and parking for more than 100 vehicles on a 25,000-square-foot lot. The property is listed for $799,000.
The authority and commissioners actually have approved 16 brownfield projects since 2011. A third one, awarded to GR School Lofts, was for Stocking Elementary School at 863 Seventh St. NW. After the brownfield was awarded, Grand Rapids Public Schools decided not to sell the building to the development firm.