GRAND RAPIDS — After helping save one historic building from the wrecking ball and rehabilitate it into usable office space, the Inner City Christian Federation is hoping for “an encore performance.”
The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit housing developer plans to leave its current headquarters of the last dozen years at 920 Cherry St. SE and move into a newly refurbished mixed-use development at 415 Franklin St. SE, the former home of Grand Rapids Christian High School and the Kent County Department of Social Services.
The $19 million, 70,000-square-foot project will feature a mix of offices for ICCF, worship space for co-developer Madison Church: Ford Campus, and 41 affordable housing units. ICCF will occupy about 10,000 square feet of the building, and have access to overflow and common areas.
ICCF CEO Ryan VerWys said the new headquarters location will put the organization closer to the people it serves: 60 percent of the homes and other residential projects the nonprofit has developed are within a 1-mile radius of the Franklin Street location.
“We’re excited about the fact that those neighbors of ours who live in our housing will be able to walk to connect with us,” VerWys told MiBiz. “Being close to or being with people we were hoping to work alongside with was really important. … It really is a beautiful place for us to do even more positive community impact.”
ICCF is leveraging Low Income Housing Tax Credits to help fund the development, as MiBiz previously reported, and is using other revenue on hand. The nonprofit expects to move into the new site at the end of 2020 or early 2021.
“Community development is a partnership. You can’t do that work alone. My staff can’t hope to achieve our work by ourselves, and so being able to be co-located in such a vital building is really an exciting opportunity,” VerWys said.
The organization is working with DeStigter Architecture & Planning for architectural services, while Rockford Construction Co. Inc. is serving as the general contractor on the project.
ICCF will retain ownership of the 30,000-square-foot Cherry Street building, built in 1908 as the D.A. Blodgett Home for Children and later used by Mary Free Bed. ICCF has occupied the building since restoring it in 2007.
The nonprofit is working with the Grand Rapids office of Colliers International to find a new tenant for the facility.
“We believe there are lots of community-oriented organizations or businesses who would see it as a great home for their work, so our ideal (tenant) would be someone who sees the beauty of that building and opportunity to be in that neighborhood as fitting with what they’re looking to do,” VerWys said.
ICCF hopes to start talking to interested partners as soon as possible, he added.
“We know that a building like 920 Cherry is a unique one with all sorts of beautiful aspects but also we’ll have a unique user who it fits for,” VerWys said. “We want to make sure we take the time to find the right person.”
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