GRAND RAPIDS — A development group hopes that a small mixed-use project will fill a long-time hole in the city’s Heartside neighborhood south of downtown, MiBiz has learned.
Developers Rockford Construction Co. Inc. and Sibsco LLC are proposing a project with 22 apartments, onsite parking, six townhomes and 2,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, according to Charlie Secchia of Sibsco, the Secchia family’s real estate investment company.
The group’s original plans for a 12-story office tower at the southwest corner of Division Avenue and Weston Street fizzled out in 2016 after the partners failed to secure enough interest from tenants to push the project forward.
Once Rockford and Sibsco scrapped plans for the high-end office tower, another developer also tried unsuccessfully to secure tax credits for an affordable housing project at the site.
Now, Secchia believes that a small, market-rate apartment project targeted at young working professionals provides the right fit for the vacant parcel. Most of the rental units are around 330 square feet.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve been involved with a number of apartment projects in Grand Rapids,” Secchia told MiBiz. “We found some success doing that and we realized we can compete and play in that arena. We took a look at that South Division, Weston and Commerce corridor, and there are not a lot of market-rate apartments down there. We deemed that would be a good fit and we’re just trying to answer to the market.”
An exact timeline for the project remains unclear. The developers will go before the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission on Sept. 5 to seek approval for the new project, which is in a historic district.
Secchia noted the project’s materials and its proposed height match the rest of the surrounding neighborhood.
Currently, the developers do not expect to tap any local or state incentive dollars for the project, which is estimated to cost $4.5 million.
Rockford Construction will serve as the proposed project’s construction manager. Grand Rapids-based Lott3Metz Architecture LLC designed the structure.
Under a best-case scenario, crews could begin work on the project this fall or early next spring, Secchia said.
“We’re trying to keep this (project) real simple,” he said.
Secchia added that seemingly anything would be an improvement for the parcel, a fenced-off ravine that’s remained vacant since 2014 when crews demolished two condemned buildings.
“Frankly, what could look worse than the hole in the ground today?” he said. “Everytime I drive by, I’m embarrassed.”