GRAND RAPIDS — Spurred on by the likes of developers such as Rockford Construction Co. Inc., Ryan Ogle now hopes to make his own mark along the Bridge Street corridor on Grand Rapids’ west side.
Previously, the broker and owner of Grand Rapids-based Blu House Properties LLC had focused primarily on sales, leasing and property management of residential homes. But with the growth of the west side, the real estate veteran sees opportunity in commercial investment.
“When I saw Rockford Construction put their headquarters here, I knew they were here to stay,” Ogle said of the Grand Rapids-based general contracting and development firm that has led the charge in new development along Bridge Street. “And I knew I could dance around in their shadows a little bit.”
Ogle and a small contingent of undisclosed, out-of-state investors have acquired five properties along Bridge Street, two of which are nearing full occupancy. The investor said that the building at 604 Bridge St. NW — formerly home to Louie’s Bar and The Rocket Lounge — has been leased to Meagan Freriks, who expects to open One Bourbon in the spring of 2017.
Freriks said interior renovations already are underway on the two-story bar and restaurant that will offer “blue-collar” food and more than 100 types of bourbon and whiskey.
Ogle and his partners also acquired the building next door at 610 Bridge St. NW, formerly the 21st Century Meat Market, where he’s currently considering three potential commercial tenants that would occupy the entire building, which includes an upstairs loft-style apartment. Ogle hopes to have a tenant selected for the 610 Bridge building by the end of the month. The commercial spaces are being leased at around $15 per square foot.
Additionally, the investment group acquired two nearby residential homes that are currently leased to tenants. Ogle said he may consider larger, mixed-use projects on those sites at some point in the future.
Overall, the investors acquired the five properties for just over $1.3 million combined, according to property records.
Long considered a neglected part of the city, the Bridge Street corridor has seen new life in recent years. Many sources attribute the start of that renaissance to a major investment by Rockford Construction in opening its new headquarters just north of Bridge a little more than two years ago.
Since that time, the company demolished an adult store and parking lot and replaced it with a mixed-use facility that includes a satellite location for Holland-based craft brewer New Holland Brewing Co. and other retail and restaurant tenants.
In the coming months, Rockford Construction and a variety of partners are expected to begin work on a whole vacant square block between Seward Avenue and Stocking Avenue. That project is expected to include housing, retail and a proposed Meijer Inc. grocery store.
Executives from Rockford Construction have said publicly they don’t intend to be the only investors in the west side neighborhood.
Indeed, Ogle notes he and others appear to be following the company’s lead.
“I’m still looking at other (projects) but there’s nothing locked up,” he said. “Once (the Rockford Construction) projects got announced, I’d see other commercial real estate brokers driving down Bridge Street. It’s getting harder to fly under the radar.”