Sunday, February 1, 2015

Housing developers bank on continued growth of downtown Grand Rapids

Last fall Forbes ranked Grand Rapids/Wyoming area the fifth fastest growing economy in the United States based on data gathered from Bureau of Economic Analysis study, and more recently The Brookings Institution rated the Grand Rapids economy 69th in the world for growth. Employment levels and GDP are up, and the continuing development happening within the city would seem to back this up.

A significant part of the recent development involves creating spaces for the knowledge workers moving to the city as a result of increased demand from the area’s manufacturing, healthcare, research, and educational sectors - specifically spaces for them to live.

While the trend during the mid-20th century was for successful people to move away from cities and out to the suburbs, the reverse is true now. Many Millennials are choosing to live a car-free lifestyle, and that can only be done downtown and only when the right amenities are available, which means that they have to be within walking or public transit distance of work, grocery stores, retail outlets, farmer’s markets, restaurants, museums, entertainment and sports venues, and schools. There have to be doctors, dentists, clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals nearby. And in this moment in Grand Rapids, that is possible, particularly downtown.
This is why there is so much interest in building new apartments, condos, and townhouses and revitalizing buildings that have sat empty for years. Demand is back.

On the north side of the city, 616 Development is planning to build a mixed-use space of apartments and retail on the Creston Corridor. Not far from there Franklin Partners is looking to develop the Display Pack building, an old furniture factory. The 375,000 square foot complex on Monroe could be transformed into 200 loft apartments - or possibly be used for office space. A little further towards downtown on Monroe, Orion Real Estate Solutions has tentative plans for a high-rise residential building on the riverfront, and the Belknap Lookout Brownstones development will offer high end condos and apartments across the highway from the Medical Mile, within easy walking distance for healthcare workers and their families.

Near Grand Valley’s downtown campus, Rockford Construction has plans to build two 5-story buildings housing 91 market rate apartments on the south side of W. Fulton St. This housing is to accommodate Grand Valley’s surging enrollment. And right downtown, a multi-story residential tower expansion of the B.O.B. will be moving forward after several previous postponements.

For those tempted to experience the downtown lifestyle in up-and-coming Grand Rapids, now is the time to explore the multiplying options.