Print this page
Sunday, 04 February 2018 01:33

Rockford Construction expands Detroit presence with historic redevelopment project

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

With a historic renovation project in Detroit, a Grand Rapids-based construction management firm is positioning itself for the next step in its regional expansion.

Over the next two years, Rockford Construction Co. Inc. will serve in the “unique” role of development manager for a full-scale renovation of the historically designated Leland Hotel in downtown Detroit. 

The Grand Rapids-based firm –– which has long had a presence as a builder in Southeast Michigan and opened an office in Detroit last year –– neither owns the Leland Hotel building nor will the company serve as the general contractor for the project, said Shane Napper, president of construction at Rockford. 

Rather, the building’s ownership –– Detroit-based Leland House Limited Partnership Co. –– has retained Rockford Construction to guide the redevelopment process. 

“They’re a great group of people, but they don’t have the expertise to structure the deal and to get it done,” Napper said. “Our role is to manage the whole process.”

The Rockford Construction team will manage all costs, oversee the Request for Proposals process and work with contractors and architects once those roles are selected. 

With the project, Rockford Construction executives hope to leverage the experience to make greater inroads into the Detroit development market.

“We’ve done a little bit of (development work in Detroit), but it’s not been a focus point,” Napper said. “This will help us expand our regional capabilities.”

Rockford’s experience renovating aging buildings should also serve as a strong foundation for the $120 million Leland Hotel redevelopment, according to Napper. 

In 2015, the firm renovated the aging Morton House building in downtown Grand Rapids, restoring the facility and creating a mixed-use project with market-rate apartments, office space and retail. 

“It’s right up our alley,” Napper said. “We’ve had a steady stream of work in Detroit for a number of years. But now we’re investing in Detroit to be a part of that fabric over there. It’s bringing us a base of some new opportunities.”

Crain’s Detroit Business first reported on the planned redevelopment of the Leland Hotel last month. 

The Leland Hotel redevelopment joins a host of other large-scale residential and office projects proposed for downtown Detroit and its surrounding neighborhoods. 

Shortly after breaking news of the Leland proposal, Crain’s Detroit also reported that the Ilitch family’s Olympia Development LLC planned a residential tower of around 20 stories for a site overlooking Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers. 

As Rockford Construction seeks to deepen its presence in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, it’s also got a wide variety of projects underway in Grand Rapids, ranging from its continued development work on the west side of Grand Rapids along Bridge Street to its WalkerView Industrial Park near the Walker Avenue and I-96 interchange. 

Upon completion of the Leland Hotel redevelopment project –– expected for sometime in 2020 –– the 22-story Italian Renaissance building built in 1927 will have 339 apartment units, with many set aside as affordable units. 

Vacant units will be renovated first, Napper said, and then existing tenants of the building will be moved into those units. Existing ground-floor tenants –– a diner and a nightclub –– will remain open during construction. 

Napper said it’s likely that ground-floor commercial space will be part of the finished product, but he added that the owners have yet to define that part of the project. 

As part of the redevelopment process, the owners plan to make use of a variety of tax credits such as New Market Tax Credits, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), and potentially historic preservation credits, Napper said. The process for applying for those credits is underway, he added. 

Napper acknowledged that, like any project, the Leland Hotel development offers its share of challenges. Specifically, managing the logistics of redeveloping a building with existing tenants without displacing anyone creates hurdles, but Napper said the firm is committed to ensuring that all tenants can stay in the building as it undergoes construction. 

Moreover, given that the redevelopment is still in the early process, seeing it through it to completion takes effort as well. 

“It’s a little bit of a soft challenge, but at the end of the day, we have to get it done,” Napper said. 

Read 3985 times