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Sunday, 28 July 2013 15:04

Developers propose new project to add 36 residences to Eastown

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Grand Rapids developer John Wheeler and his partners have big plans for bringing more quality residential units to the Wealthy Street corridor.

On the heels of announcing the $28 million mixed-use Arena Place Development project in downtown Grand Rapids, Wheeler and his partners soon expect to unveil plans for Eastown Flats, a new 36-unit market-rate apartment complex in Eastown.

The plan Wheeler outlined to MiBiz consists of two buildings. Early designs call for one three-story, 16-unit building at 1415 Wealthy St. and another three-story, 20-unit building at 1400 Wealthy St., which is currently home to CarLovers carwash.

The design aims for a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments as well as some studios. Each unit will have a balcony and a built-in gas grill, Wheeler said.

Wheeler said he closed on the vacant parcel just over a month ago and expects to close on the CarLovers property in the next 30 days.

“East of this area, it’s mostly commercial, and to the west, it becomes mostly residential. This project brings some more rooftop density and would help define where residential stops and commercial starts,” said Wheeler, the vice president of business development at Orion Construction.

Integrated Architecture is designing the project.

Wheeler said he’s open to hearing what the Eastown community has to say and what it wants to see from the project.

The project goes before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission on Aug. 8. The partners also plan to meet up again with the Eastown Community Association (ECA) in the coming weeks.

“Our experience tells us it’s wise and prudent to meet with the neighbors, and we are doing just that,” Wheeler said. “We want to know how it fits and what it will look like 20, 40 years from now.”

The project caught the attention of the ECA after an Eastown Business Association meeting, where the proposal was first brought up, said Lindsey Ruffin, the ECA’s executive director.

Ruffin said she’s done some initial canvassing in the neighborhood to gauge residents’ opinions of the project. However, the few people she was able to meet with gave mixed opinions.

“It’s still too early to tell how people really feel,” she said. “There were a couple of people who said they were concerned about the size of the project and a few business owners who said they would like to see some ground-floor retail space … but we hope talk further with the developers and see more input from the neighborhood.”

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