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A rendering of The McConnell, a proposed 10-story apartment building in downtown Grand Rapids that would include retail space, a microbrewery and a food hall. A rendering of The McConnell, a proposed 10-story apartment building in downtown Grand Rapids that would include retail space, a microbrewery and a food hall. COURTESY PHOTO

10-story downtown GR development would include 432 apartments, food hall, retail

BY Monday, October 10, 2022 06:56pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A Chicago-based developer plans a 10-story building along Division Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids that would include more than 400 apartment units, retail and restaurant space.

Jon Morgan, co-founder and principal of Chicago-based Interra Realty, is the developer for the project doing business as McConnell GR LLC. Suitepeople, a subsidiary of Urban Trend Real Estate, serves as the property management company for the project.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission on Oct. 27 will consider an optional plan review involving building height, reducing the parking down to 111 spaces — 530 fewer spaces than required — and reducing the number of required bicycle spaces. Special land use requests related to a proposed food hall and microbrewery portion of the project will also be considered.

Site plans call for a mix of new construction and adaptive reuse of the existing industrial building on the site, located at 13 McConnell St. SW, 421 and 427 Division Ave. The McConnell project would be a 336,835-square-foot, mixed-use L-shaped building with 432 market-rate apartment units. Apartments would include 324 studio units, 90 one-bedroom units, and 18 two-bedroom units.

“We love the Grand Rapids market in general, and there is a huge demand for market-rate housing and we’re a purveyor of market-rate housing,” Suitepeople co-founder and Chief Inspiration Officer Laura Fisher told MiBiz. “That particular area is very suitable for diversification.”

The building team is eyeing a 10-story project to build density and make the project economically viable.

“It is evident without securing sufficient density the project simply is not feasible given external conditions such as the rise in construction costs, interest rates, inflation, and supply chain delays,” according to a presentation on the project filed with the city.

The McConnell could include a microbrewery that occupies 9,044 square feet of lower-level retail, according to planning documents filed with the city of Grand Rapids. Another 24,799-square feet of commercial or retail space would be included below apartment units along McConnell Street. 

A 22,500-square-foot food hall called Freedom Street Social would occupy the ground floor next to the microbrewery. An art alleyway and outdoor seating is also included in the plans. As well, a shipping container incubator pod would replace the parking lot currently on the site facing Division Ave.

“The food hall is going to be a huge asset for the downtown core specifically and it will create vibrancy,” Fisher said. “We like to design for enhanced residence experience, so really building in features and amenities and just basic design that nurture and provide the best living we can provide for our residents. We’re hoping that this will generate vitality in the community organically in the building itself with the design.”

Fisher was unable to disclose an estimated timeline for project construction if approvals are granted. The development team is considering four different construction companies that are all familiar with the development plans, she said.

The development team has not yet signed a lease with a brewery, Fisher added.

Kevin Bassett, president of K&K Investors Inc., owns the McConnell Street property, according to the site plan and city property records. 

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