A Grand Rapids-based development firm that made a recent buy in the Battle Creek market says it plans to offer much-needed residential units to the downtown market, as well as help bring a new hotel to the area.
616 Development’s plans for the long-vacant, 19-story Heritage Tower in Battle Creek call for 65 one- and two-bedroom market-rate apartment units with amenities as well as a new boutique hotel operation, the firm’s founder and managing director, Derek Coppess, told MiBiz.
The firm has letters of intent and leases pending with a boutique hotel operator and two office tenants for the space.
“We’re working through all the state and local incentives,” Coppess said. “We hope we can get into the building by this fall.”
Previously, the firm confirmed its purchase, but had not detailed its plans for the project.
The nearly 123,000-square-foot project — which includes an adjacent building at 17 West Michigan Avenue — would be the company’s largest to date, Coppess said.
According to local reports, Heritage Tower was purchased by Random Acquisitions of Florida for $700,000 in 2008, but the company’s plans to redevelop the site never materialized.
Today, the structure is partially condemned after it suffered water damage. Until now, 616 Development had focused on redeveloping properties in and around downtown Grand Rapids, including 1 & 7 Ionia Avenue, 139 Pearl Street and 206 Grandville Avenue, where the developer is currently adding additional units.
The company is in the middle of construction on the Kendall Building near the intersection of Monroe Center and Division Avenue, and this month announced plans to turn the former Bethlehem Lutheran Church at the intersection of Crescent Avenue and Prospect Street in Heritage Hill into a market-rate apartment project.
“We have five projects in develop- ment right now and you should hear about more shortly,” he said.
The 616 Lofts at Prospect venture also picks up at the site where a previous developer failed to gain traction with the roughly $7 million Renatus project to turn the former church into condos.
While Coppess decided to branch out to Battle Creek, he said he’s not necessarily looking to expand in other directions just yet, noting he’s been pleased with the current housing opportunities in Grand Rapids.
“Our focus is in our home town right now,” he said. “We want to be experts in our own area before we move into others.”