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Massive mixed-use redevelopment planned for Sligh Furniture Co. building in GR COURTESY PHOTO

Massive mixed-use redevelopment planned for Sligh Furniture Co. building in GR

BY Tuesday, March 16, 2021 02:06pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A Detroit-based real estate development firm plans to renovate the historic Sligh Furniture Co. building to create 753 housing units and 22,647 square feet of ground floor retail space.

Sturgeon Bay Partners is planning to redevelop the former furniture building at 446 Grandville Ave. SW — just south of Wealthy Street SW near downtown Grand Rapids — and demolish several surrounding buildings. Multiple new structures are also planned as part of the massive project covering a city block in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood. The project would be adjacent to U.S.-131 and the Grand Rapids Ballet.

Multiple antique stores and artist studios are currently located on the ground floor of the Sligh Furniture Co. building. The proposed project site is zoned transitional city center. The site was among several industrial parcels that were being eyed for more mixed uses as part of the city’s 2002 master plan, Grand Rapids City Planning Director Krisitn Turkelson told MiBiz. 

A conceptual plan for the project was presented March 11 to the Grand Rapids South Division-Grandville Corridor Improvement Authority. The project also calls for a rooftop garden, public courtyard, streetscape improvements, art mural and a cafe. 

Except for building height, the plan matches the zoning and could be approved at a staffing level. The developer has filed a special land use request for additional building height proposed in a six-story structure at the southeast corner of Wealthy Street and Grandville Avenue, exceeding the five-story limit in the transitional city center zoning district. 

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission has the authority to grant the additional building height because the project aligns with the city’s goals of preserving historic buildings and adding additional housing, Turkelson said. The planning commission will consider the plan at its April 22 meeting.

“It’s a good design, both through the restoration of existing structures and the fact that they are incorporating open space. We see a lot of great urban development with open spaces like that, like in downtown Detroit — it’s a very attractive amenity,” Turkelson said. 

The plan also calls for a three-floor parking garage with 614 spaces. The apartment units are planned to include 310 “mixed” units and 443 micro units, which are classified by the city as being no more than 475 square feet.

Sturgeon Bay Partners is planning to apply for a federal historic preservation tax credit for the project, which would include restoring signage masonry on the Sligh Furniture Co. building. 

Rent price points were not presented to the Grand Rapids South Division-Grandville Corridor Improvement Authority, and the plan did not disclose whether the developer plans to apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Turkelson said.

Attempts to reach Sturgeon Bay Partners officials were unsuccessful.

The project is one of the largest housing projects the city has seen in recent years, Turkelson added. Not all of the units will come online at the same time if the project comes to fruition, but it would help achieve city goals for adding more housing, she said.

According to a housing needs assessment conducted by Bowen National Research, downtown Grand Rapids will need an additional 2,299 rental units at varying price points by 2025 to maintain a balanced market. 

Members of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association’s board of directors, development committee and corridor improvement committee have met with the Sturgeon Bay Partners development team, said Amy Brower, executive director of the neighborhood association. 

The neighborhood association is waiting for more information, but many elements of the association’s Grandville Avenue Area Specific Plan are incorporated into the proposed development, Brower said. Affordability of the units, accessibility of the retail space for local entrepreneurs and “incorporating development without displacement” are hopefully included in the development, she added.

“We look forward to continuing that conversation and asking questions and getting answers,” Brower said.

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