Ohio-based Excel Realty Group secured the tax credits that made the deal possible to save the structure, which was built in 1892 and had served as a church until 2001.
Last year, Excel worked an option to develop the historic church from owner G.A. Haan Development.
"The owner had it for about a year, but couldn't get the tax credits," said Joe Brazier, development manager for Excel. "He wanted to tear down the historic part of the building."
Brazier said the $6 million Allegan Senior Residence project sought state historic, brownfield and low-income housing tax credits to push it forward.
The building at 330 Trowbridge St. had long been the home of First Baptist Church until it moved in 2001. From 2001 to 2008 the building housed the Allegan Area Community Center. A number of nonprofits also used the church as office space. The building became vacant in 2009.
Brazier said the city was very interested in having the building reused, and it felt that a senior living center was an ideal fit for the downtown area.
Construction started in November and a mild winter helped move the project along, said Brian Steinberg, project manager for Wolverine Building Group.
Steinberg said the church had additions built in the 1950s and then again in 1970s. The additions were torn down to make way for the 20 apartments now attached to the former church building. The church portion now serves as a community room for the residents.
Over the years the elements took their toll on the building, which needed considerable rehabilitation.
"There was a lot of damage to the brick from ice and other things," Steinberg said. "It took a lot of masonry repair and tuck pointing to make it look more like it used to."
The project also made use of the former church's myriad stained glass windows, which was important for maintaining the historical nature of the development.
"One of the big things we did was repair and refurbish all of the stained glass," he said.
Because the church is tucked into a tight neighborhood, Steinberg said the crew was challenged with a constrained work area with very little green space around it.
One early concern for the developers was the Allegan County Jail, which sits right across the street from the old church. Brazier said he didn't know if the elderly residents would be comfortable with the location. However plans for a new $17.7 million jail at the 189,000-square-foot former Haworth plant at 640 River St. announced in January alleviated any unease from potential residents, he said.
Brazier expects the new facility to be ready for occupancy Aug. 1.