New residential development on GR’s west side, first in nearly two decades

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's the first new residential development on Grand Rapids' west side in nearly two decades, making it just the latest in the redevelopment boom that's been happening lately in the area.

In August, FOX 17 reported on the several new businesses moving in, redeveloping and setting up shop on the city's west side near Bridge Street.

The new residential complex located at 600 Douglas St. boasts 18 units, ranging from studios to two bedroom to bathroom loft-style apartments, all within walking distance of downtown.

The complex is atypical in that it's actually four separate buildings on the site connected with outdoor walkways, designed around a community-style courtyard.

"With this design, we really wanted to create something new," said Mike Mraz, a partner with Rockford Development, which offered to give FOX 17 a first look at the complex Wednesday as the final units neared completion.

Mraz said the apartments are being targeted toward the coveted "young professionals" demographic along with empty-nesters looking to move back into the city.

"We're actually capturing all sorts of demographics in this particular location," Mraz said. "I think we'll see that to come with the proximity of this community relative to downtown."

According to a recent market study conducted for the Michigan Corridor, there’s enough demand to support about 1,200 new apartments a year for the next five years downtown.

Of the 18 units at 600 Douglas St., two are studios, 10 are one bedroom one bathroom units, and six are two bedroom two bathroom units. Residents began moving in this past July and according to Mraz, 15 of the 18 units have already been rented.

"The big piece of this is the concept of moving back to the center core of downtown, and it's happening in other cities... part of the draw is easy access to the central core and access to the highways," Mraz said. "So as we look to the future with the cage of demographic and the concept of living downtown is becoming more and more popular."

Part of attracting the demographic they're aiming for means offering unique and sometimes unexpected amenities, like portable walls developed by Urbaneer, according to Mraz.

The movable walls, offered in the studio units, move along a ceiling-mounted track and can help break up a space for more versatile living, or "smarter" living, as Rockford representatives were quick to point out.

Several of the units also include so-called inductive technology, allowing residents to charge their electronics wirelessly.

"Even though our square footage s comparable to other properties, they're as usable as possible," Mraz said. "What we're looking to do here is just adding on to the community that already exists, and a key component of that is residential."



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