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10-unit, $2.6 million GR housing development ‘still moving forward’ COURTESY RENDERING

10-unit, $2.6 million GR housing development ‘still moving forward’

BY Thursday, September 17, 2020 03:14pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids City Commission has approved a brownfield tax incentive plan for a 10-unit apartment project in the city’s East Hills neighborhood.

The $2.6 million project at 341 Henry Ave. SE — just north of Donkey Taqueria — has received various city approvals over the past year and a half, although construction has not yet started. As well, the property changed hands earlier this year after a transfer from Leesure Room LLC — an entity whose resident agent is Jessica Lee — to Henry Avenue LLC, which is registered to RDV Corp., the DeVos family office. 

Paul Lee, the owner of Donkey and three other nearby restaurants and Jessica Lee’s husband, said the pandemic has affected the property’s appraised value and construction costs, adding that the project is now a 50-50 partnership with RDV, which he said has more experience with housing development.

“Rather than put us 100 percent at risk with something we’re unfamiliar with, we brought on another partner,” Lee said. “We still own half of the project.”

Grand Rapids-based Metric Structures LLC, which originally sought various city approvals for the project, remains as general contractor. 

Despite the delays, Lee said the project is “still moving forward.”

The development team plans to invest $2.6 million to construct a three-building, 10-unit apartment project. The apartments include four 522-square-foot studio units, four 934-square-foot two-bedroom units, and two 1,600-square-foot three-bedroom units.

The estimated monthly rent is $1,055 for the studios, $1,920 for the two-bedroom units, and $2,900 for the three-bedroom units. The rates fall in the 80- to 100-percent range for area median income affordability for studio units and up to 160 percent of the area median income affordability for the three-bedroom units. 

A recent Housing Next study conducted by Bowen National Research indicated demand for 1,469 new rental units in the 80- to 120-percent area median income range and 979 new rental units needed in the 120 percent and up area median income category by 2025.

The project would occupy a now-vacant 12,124-square-foot site. The partners are planning to build three separate, two-story buildings for the housing development, which also will include communal greenspace and surface parking. 

The Grand Rapids City Planning Commission approved the project in November 2019. The proposal also secured Historic Preservation Commission approval and a recommendation from the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the project receiving reimbursement for brownfield eligible activities totaling $430,002. City staff estimate future residents of the apartments could generate about $3,783 in new city income taxes annually. Brownfield eligible activities include environmental site assessments, lead and asbestos abatement, demolition, site preparation and public and private infrastructure improvement including a stormwater retention system.

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