GRAND RAPIDS — The Detroit-based company proposing a massive redevelopment of the former Sligh Furniture factory in Grand Rapids wants to cut more than 300 housing units from the original proposal and add a self-storage component, among other changes.
While Sturgeon Bay Partners executives discussed an altered proposal last fall, the development team recently submitted formal plan amendments to the Grand Rapids Planning Commission.
The new proposal calls for reducing the previously approved, new six-story building to five stories, decreasing the residential unit count from 753 to 438 units, and adding a self-storage component, according to planning documents filed with the city.
The amended plan also calls for 69 garage parking spaces and 298 surface parking spaces, 21,823 square feet of retail space, and 35,937 square feet of public greenspace. The original plan called for far more garage parking than surface parking, while the open space and retail space would remain roughly the same.
The changes are driven by market conditions as well as the developer’s request to add the property to the National Register of Historic Places, which could unlock historic tax credits for the project. Gaining historic status also would require the preservation of the whole Sligh Furniture building, which would have been partially demolished under previous plans.
The development spans nearly an entire block in the city’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood where the furniture company operated from 1880 to the early 1930s, according to the Grand Rapids Historical Commission. Planned historic preservation work for the Sligh building would include masonry work, restoring the historic signage, removing a post-war concrete addition that is in disrepair, replacing windows, and making code upgrades throughout the structure.
The Grand Rapids Planning Commission will consider the site plan amendments at its Jan. 12 meeting. The planning commission on April 22, 2021 approved the developer’s request to stray slightly from certain building height requirements, and the city approved an optional site plan review in May 2021.
Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association Executive Director Amy Brower said the organization is meeting with the project developers before the Jan. 12 planning meeting to learn more about the proposed changes.
“We have had conversations with (the developers) in the past about the project, and there are a lot of elements that align with our area specific plan,” Brower told MiBiz. “Our previous conversations definitely were advocating for at least a portion of those housing units to be affordable, and in addition we would like to see some of those retail spaces made available to entrepreneurs. We have a lot of folks who run businesses out of their homes and we were excited to perhaps provide a space for them to launch their business.”
Brower added that the neighborhood organization has heard positive feedback among residents about the project’s planned community greenspace, which is designed in the middle of the project to accommodate entertainment, food trucks and public art.
The plan amendments are necessary because of the need to preserve the whole Sligh building as well as market changes, according to planning documents filed with the city.
“The development team is working alongside project partners to secure ownership and hone financing, architecture and engineering, as well as building efficiencies and phasing to understand the changing market due to interest rates, material supply chain and project phasing,” according to a planning memo filed with the city.
Sturgeon Bay Partners co-founder John Gibbs could not be reached for comment on the proposed amendments. However, Gibbs discussed some of the project delays and potential changes to the plan in October.
Real estate investment firm Alter Mile Group LLC and Oxford Capital Group LLC are also part of the project investors. Boston-based Touloukian Touloukian Inc. serves as the project architect, while Chicago-based Daccord LLC serves as the general contractor.