Plans for a 10-story mixed-use development along the Grand River in Grand Rapids. Plans for a 10-story mixed-use development along the Grand River in Grand Rapids. COURTESY OF INDIGO DESIGN + DEVELOPMENT

GR developer plans 10-story, riverside mixed-use project with 140 residential units

BY Tuesday, January 10, 2023 03:38pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A 10-story, mixed-use project with 140 residential units would replace two mostly vacant buildings along the Grand River as part of a developer’s plan to add housing and public river access to a former industrial part of the city.

Grand Rapids-based Joe Elias, doing business as West Leonard Development LLC, seeks city planning commission approval for a planned redevelopment district for the project, which will be considered on Jan. 26. 

The site plan calls for 140 residential units on the fourth through 10th floors. A mix of parking and two commercial suites would occupy the ground floor, and the second and third floors would be a parking structure with 157 parking spaces.

Plans call for a new 181,930-square-foot building at 260 and 282 Leonard St. NW on the west side of the Grand River, with a 50-foot setback from the river. The existing building sits directly on top of the river seawall, and the 50-foot setback is meant to “maximize the green space on the site, future-plan for a riverwalk that could extend along the entire west side of the river, and activate the waterfront through unique spaces and programming,” according to the project description.

“This is a unique side of the river that is in transition from heavy industrial that’s been in existence for a while now,” Elias told MiBiz. “Housing is a big need right now, and we wanted to do something new on the riverfront and give access to the river.”

Elias is the former founding partner and chief operating officer of Red Oak Capital Group LLC, which specializes in providing bridge loans for commercial real estate properties. He sold his partnership in the organization last year.

With the Leonard project, Elias hopes to allow for a mix of private and public access to the river, which the two existing buildings prevent. 

“The buildings are mostly vacant,” Elias said of the existing structures, which would be demolished under his plan. “There is one business there on a month-to-month basis right now, but it is mainly vacant and those buildings are pushed directly against the seawall.”

West Leonard Development is working with Grand Rapids-based Indigo Design + Development and has not yet identified a general contractor for the project. Elias said he hopes to break ground sometime this year.

The residential component would include 77 studio units, 56 one-bedroom units and seven two-bedroom units. Shared amenities throughout the building could include a fitness center, business center, roof terrace, bicycle storage, pet washing room, an electric vehicle charging station, and a package locker system. Tenants for the two commercial suites have not yet been determined, Elias added.

“Right now we are planning for the apartments to be market rate,” Elias said. “There is some affordable housing further down the river right now and we thought it would be a good opportunity to have diverse housing in the area. I think affordable housing needs are being met well by different organizations and neighborhood groups in the West Leonard and West Grand neighborhood.”

He added that adequate parking, building density and riverfront access were included in the plan to both make it more feasible and in response to surrounding residents’ feedback.

“It’s still kind of early, but we’re excited about providing quality homes in Grand Rapids and hope to keep with the current city design and aesthetic.”

Read 4902 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 January 2023 16:33