GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Sligh Furniture building on Grand Rapids’ southwest side could be rejuvenated if a proposed housing development is approved.

John Gibbs, a developer from Detroit-based Sturgeon Bay Partners, has submitted an application for the project with the Grand Rapids Planning Commission. 

“I think the developer is really being intentional about the preservation about a beautiful historic building,” Kristin Turkelson, the city’s planning director, said.

The proposal (PDF) includes 753 apartment units, retail and green space. 

“Recent studies show that we have a serious housing crisis and we need a significant number of new housing units per year,” Turkelson said.

The development would include 440 micro units, which the city describes as spaces no larger than 475 square feet. 

“They’re affordable because of size,” Turkelson explained. “Smaller in square footage and rents tend to be lower. … I think that’s an asset as well and we’ve seen a great demand for those smaller units, especially closer to downtown.” 

The developer hasn’t put on a number on the cost of rent per unit, but “affordable quality housing” is listed in the developer’s master plan. 

The development would take up a whole block along Grandville Avenue south of Wealthy Street. The Sligh building, which has been around since the 1880s, would be renovated. Other structures would be demolished. 

A public courtyard is at the heart of the project. Retail space and a cafe would be located on the first floor and there would be garage parking with more than 600 spaces.

“Stereotypical mixed-use development, where you have quite a bit of active ground floor uses, especially on Century and Logan in the old historic building where we have commercial space,” Turkelson said. “I’d imagine within next year if everything comes to fruition, we’d start to see some construction begin.”