GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Rapids Brewing Co. opened Wednesday near Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The developer -- 616 Development -- rehabbed the old buildings at 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. It's part of a growing trend downtown to renovate old buildings rather than build new ones.
Repurposing old buildings is nothing new, but it took a brief break during the recession, which was a tough time for financing. On Wednesday, 24 Hour News 8 counted at least nine downtown projects where developers are revitalizing old buildings.
"The new normal has started now," said Derek Coppess of 616 Development. "There's a big urban revival going on that's a real organic kind of movement."
If there is a formula to rehabbing old buildings, 616 Development thinks it has found a solution: Making the space multi-use.
"Retail on the ground, office as a buffer on the second floor," Coppess said as he explained the plan for the new 616 Lofts at the intersection of Monroe Center and Division Avenue. "Floors 3, 4 and 5 will be market-rate apartments, and we'll have a rooftop deck," Coppess said.
The mix-use plan is similar to what 616 Development did to 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. Grand Rapids Brewing Co. is downstairs, Floor 1 houses office space, with apartments above.
The apartments are in demand, said Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority Director Kris Larson.
"People are moving back downtown."
And, Larson said, they are looking to rent rather than buy.
Larson said repurposing old buildings is cheaper than building new ones, and it allows developers to use the buildings' historic character to their advantage.
"It's a great opportunity for the development community to breathe new life into an existing structure," Larson said.
That is what Rockford Construction did at 64 and 70 Ionia Ave. -- the property known as Grid 70. The property at 70 Ionia Ave. was once the site of Hotel Milner, but now it's office space. Rockford Construction added the adjacent building and adjoined the two properties, creating more office space for designers that work for companies like Amway, Steelcase and Mercy Health.
"We were able to save pieces of an old building that used to stand here," said Kurt Hassberger of Rockford Construction. "To see some of these old buildings that have been abandoned for decades brought back into active use is phenomenal."
The nine buildings set for repurposing:
A. Rockford Construction at Seward Avenue and 1st Avenue NW: The future headquarters of Rockford Construction
B. McKay Tower at Pearl Street and Monroe Center NW: Construction crews are working on several floors at the building across the street from Rosa Parks Circle. The new owners are reportedly converting part of the space to a ballroom, according to the Grand Rapids Press.
C. Grand Rapids Brewing Co. at 1 Ionia Ave. SW: The entire project -- dubbed "616 Lofts on Ionia" -- is one of 616 Development's mix-use buildings. A brew pub is on the lower-level. Office space sits on the second floor and market-price apartments are on the top three floors.
D. Grid 70 Annex at 64 Ionia Ave. NW: The Rockford Construction project is adjoining 64 Ionia Ave. to the old Hotel Milner, which is now office space called Grid 70. Designers from Amway, Mercy Health and Steelcase, among others, use some of the space.
E. Morton House at 55 Ionia Ave. NW: Rockford Construction bought the former low-income housing unit after a four-decade run. Rockford Construction said it is in the design stage of the project, which will include a mix of retail/office/market-rate housing.
F. 616 Lofts at Division Avenue and Monroe Center NE: 616 Development is rehabbing the old "Kendall" building near the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. 616 Development plans for a mix-use project with retail on the ground floor, office space as a buffer and market-rate apartments on the three floors above. A rooftop deck is also a part of the plan.
G. JA Building at Fulton Street and Division Avenue: Locus Development has already started work on the former Junior Achievement building. City officials told 24 Hour News 8 that plans are in the works for a restaurant on the ground floor, and office space upstairs. The building was used by Site:Lab as an ArtPrize exhibition in 2011.
H. 35 Oakes St. SW: Rockford Construction plans for a multi-use space near its Grid 70 project.
I. Baker Lofts at Ionia Avenue and Logan Street SW: The former Baker furniture factory is being converted to affordable "workforce" apartments. It's designed to attract downtown workers, and is located near the upcoming Downtown Market. Mike and Rob Jacobson are the developers. Rockford Construction is the building company.
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