GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A $150 million project in the planning stages will bring hundreds of apartments, a restaurant space, a fitness center and more to Grand Rapids.
Factory Yards is planned for 15 acres along Godfrey Avenue near Market Avenue. The first phase of the plan includes renovating a vacant, five-story building.
The building was originally built by Luce Furniture Co., a company founded in the late 1800s, according to the Grand Rapids Historical Commission. The building was remodeled and expanded in 1910.
Luce Furniture Co. filed for bankruptcy in 1933, the Grand Rapids Historical Commission says. A spring and wire company bought the building out of bankruptcy, Scott Magaluk, one of the developers behind the project, said.
During WWII, the company starting making war goods like parachutes — the building still has a parachute loom used during that time period. The factory was also one of the first to hire women, according to the project’s website.
The developers have worked to pay homage to the building’s history and to keep the character of the building.
“I always say it took 120 years of time to create the weathered authentic look of the building. We’re going to try to accentuate that as much as we can,” Magaluk said.
Planned for the building is 382 apartment units, almost 65,000 square-feet of commercial space and a half-acre outdoor plaza.
FIRETEN Hospitality will run a food hall in the building, which will include 11 vendors, an anchor tenant and a cocktail bar. There will also be an event space that will hold around 200 people.
Project leaders plan to demolish part of the building to build the plaza, which will be connected to the food hall. Those two spaces will host community events like yoga classes, trivia nights, pop-up markets and cornhole tournaments.
The boiler house will be turned into a space that could house a brewery or restaurant tenant with space for an outdoor patio.
An ‘arcade’ greenspace will create a walkway that connects the front and back of the building.
It’s too soon to say what type of commercial and retail tenants might take up space in the project, but developers say they want it to be a mix and think some of the office space could be good for a tech company.
“Given the nature of the project and how unique it is and historical, we’re envisioning a pretty eclectic blend of tenants in the commercial spaces and unique tenants that make it a destination and help support one another and build up the momentum,” developer Ben Smith said.
Plans for other phases of the project include renovating another building on the property into a climate-controlled self-storage facility and a fitness space. There’s space for things like a rock climbing wall, and it could also be used for activities like pickleball, indoor soccer or bowling.
The final piece of the project is constructing new buildings that will bring multi-family housing units and commercial space to the property.
Smith and Magaluk hope the development will become a space for people to meet and hang out. Their catchphrase is “meet me at Factory Yards,” something they hope people will say to each other in the future.
“We’re looking at honoring the history and accentuating the history of the building and the uniqueness that comes along with an old building and creating a destination both for retail, for living,” Magaluk said.
The project is within walking distance of the planned outdoor amphitheater and is close to downtown.
The developers say they have received positive feedback from the community.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have received a lot of support from the neighbors in the different groups in the community. We’ve met with a whole bunch of groups and I’ve received really positive feedback, some good ideas,” Smith said. “So we’re lucky to be a part of the community.”
The project is still in the planning and incentives process. A special land use request was approved by the Grand Rapids Planning Commission during its meeting on May 11 and its working to get a transformational brownfield credit.
Project leaders are hoping to break ground in the fall. Building the first phase of the project is expected to take around 30 months.