LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Three developments aimed at luring and keeping talent and businesses in West Michigan cleared a state hurdle Tuesday.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Strategic Fund Board approved work and funding plans for three community vitality projects in Grand Rapids, Middleville and Kalamazoo expected to bring $60 million in investment and 285 apartments to the area.

Michele Wildman, the senior vice president of community development for the MEDC, says housing continues to be a “major barrier” in attracting and keeping talent for Michigan’s workforce. The agency hopes the new housing will entice people to live and work in those communities, easing the state’s talent shortage and tight housing market.

“We are seeing consistently across communities in the state a lack of affordable housing… and a significant shortage in available stock,” Amanda Brightman said. “It is a constraint, candidly, on communities being able to reach their own vision.”

(Left to right: The American Box Board building before and after redevelopment.)


On Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the city of Grand Rapids’ plan to capture nearly $2.7 million in state taxes over 19 years to reimburse costs for converting this Brownfield site into a place for residential living. The $31 million project is also getting more than $3.5 million in local support via Brownfield tax financing and tax breaks.

Developer 470 Market PropCo LLC wants to transform the American Box Board Company building into 173 market-rate apartments with 170 parking spots, both of which are in high demand.

Since the building is on the National Register of Historical Places, the exterior will remain relatively untouched. Inside, developers plan to keep the heavy timber supports and exposed brick intact.

On the first floor, five apartments will overlook a newly installed atrium at the heart of the building. Developers also plan to add a club room, fitness center, spin class area, yoga studio and community workspace. The second and third floors will each contain 84 apartments, which will be a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom places in 30 layouts.

The plans submitted to the MEDC says rent will range from $975 to $1,700 per month. Developers say the pet-friendly apartments will be fairly compact, ranging from 450-square-feet for a studio to about 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom, two bathroom unit.

Approximately 100 of the parking spots will be on the lower level of the building, with 70 additional spots across the street along the Grand River.

Project planning has been underway for about 18 months. Construction on the $31 million project is expected to start next week with a targeted completion date of July 1, 2022.

(Renderings provided by the MEDC show the development slated for 400 Rose St. in Kalamazoo.)


The MSF signed off on the $4.85 million loan from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program for this project. The board also approved the city of Kalamazoo’s plans to capture $1.82 million in state taxes to reimburse developers for revamping the Brownfield property on the corner of S. Rose and W. Lovell streets.

The $26.2 million project will add a new four-story development filled with apartments to 400 Rose St. Sidewalks with a snowmelt system will wrap around the building, which will be near the downtown retail corridor and within walking distance of Bronson Hospital, Zoetis and Western Michigan University Stryker School of Medicine.

Developer 234 West Cedar LLC’s plan calls for 101 apartments, a 471-square-foot commercial space, 115 underground parking spaces and 12 surface parking spots on the 1.35-acre site, which will also include landscaping and “significant green elements.”

The market-rate apartments will range from $1,073 per month for a studio to $2,697 for a two-bedroom space. The 10 or so apartments designated as workforce housing will rent for $971 per month for a studio to $1,695 per month for a two-bedroom.

Construction is expected to start this spring. Developers are aiming to open the LEED-certified building in the first quarter of 2023.

(A rendering provided by the MEDC shows the development slated for downtown Middleville.)


Tuesday’s approval of a $990,000 loan is what developers needed to make this vision viable.

The $2.84 million project will fill a gap in Middleville’s downtown streetscape left when a hotel on the site burned down in 1981.

The village-owned property located next to the village hall will become a three-story development with apartments and retail space.

The 2,500-square foot ground floor will be dedicated to retailers. The second and third floors will house a total of 11 apartments that will cost from $900 to $1,400 a month to rent. Seven garages will line the back of the building.

“This project is the result of years of work by the city of Middleville,” MEDC Community Assistance Director Sara Rainero said.

The developer already received a $100,000 MEDC grant for architecture and engineering.

Executives from the area’s major employer, Bradford White, took part in the planning process for the development. They said the housing this development will provide is the kind Bradford White needs to attract employees.

Construction on Middleville Main is expected to start late this spring with a goal of finishing the project this winter.