GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority today approved a grant for the conversion of a lower-level space on Monroe Center into a micro-hotel.
Bradley Veneklase, associate broker at Grand Rapids-based Urban Soil Realty, proposed to convert the lower level of 65 Monroe Center St. NW into a five-room, 2,600-square-foot hotel branded The Finnley, which he named for his daughter.
Veneklase got the idea of a micro hotel from his own travel experiences.
“We like to stay at Airbnbs that are in the middle of the action of wherever we’re going,” he said. “We’ve had great experiences when they’re owned by local people. It seems to be a better experience when they have smaller boutique spaces.”
The DDA approved Veneklase for a $25,000 Downtown Enhancement Grant that will help upgrade the lobby of the building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which involves lowering the lobby by about six inches. The hotel is accessed through the main lobby and existing elevator, as well as a lightwell on Ionia Street.
The grant will also help with elevator improvements to meet the new lobby floor elevation, a new lobby security system to provide hotel users access to the rooms, repair of the lightwell stairs and sidewalk railing, additional lighting and a mural on the lightwell.
The space — formerly the offices of MiBiz and Revue West Michigan until 2018 — is currently vacant and sits below residential condominiums on the upper floors of the building. Veneklase bought the basement space in January 2019 for $250,000.
Demolition is ongoing, and Veneklase anticipates the project will be finished in August. Wyoming-based Richard Postema Associates Architects and Engineers PC served as the architect, and Grand Rapids-based Eastown Construction Inc. is completing the construction.
Across the corner from Veneklase’s proposed micro-hotel, 55 Ionia Partners LLC, an affiliate of Grand Rapids-based RDV Corp. is exploring adding a 32-unit boutique hotel at 55 Ionia Ave. NW, as MiBiz previously reported.
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