GVSU plans for new housing downtown

Drew Howard

Rockford Construction Co. is waiting for final approval from the city commission to build nearly 100 new apartments designed for student living on the edge of the Grand Valley State University Pew Campus, located in downtown Grand Rapids.

Mike Mraz, vice president of real estate development, said Rockford is building the apartments with GVSU students in mind.

“It will be a popular spot for students to live,” Mraz said. “There’s the potential for things like a community area within the building, a rooftop deck, outdoor green space as well as some other common space. Each room will also have its own washer and dryer.”

Mraz said the building will include 26 one-bedroom units, 50 two-bedroom units and 15 four- bedroom units.

The ground floor will take up anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.

“Students can expect to park on site instead of finding a spot on the street,” Mraz said. “It will be less than a block away from campus, which makes commuting for students much easier. The Laker Line will be constructed right next to the apartment buildings, making it even simpler for students who have classes in Allendale to find transportation.”

Rockford, which is known for constructing buildings like the J.W. Marriot and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, expects leasing prices to be consistent with other apartments in the surrounding area.

Kristen Evans, assistant director of housing and residence life, said GVSU and the Rockford Construction Co. have a great relationship and hope to share information about what students are looking for in living situations.

“They’re very interested in the voice of GVSU students,” said Evans. “They want to know what they want, and obviously they have to balance what a student wants with what they’re willing to pay for. I imagine further down the planning, they will reach out to GVSU students so they can meet the needs of their target audience.”

Evans said the new apartments will be a great addition to downtown Grand Rapids.

“It would be in the city’s best interest to approve the construction because it will bring jobs and more people living downtown,” said Evans. “Grand Rapids is a great place to be, and it’s neat to see this development happen as GVSU’s health fields keep increasing. More and more students are entering health fields, which means a lot of people will be living downtown. The project is great for everyone involved.”

The proposal includes the construction of two five-story buildings with a total of 91 apartments on a lot between Seward and Lexington avenues. A second-floor connection will join the two buildings, allowing residents to walk through without having to go outside.

In addition to this, the Rockford Construction Co. plans to build a parking garage west of Lexington Avenue that will consist of 116 parking spaces as well as a 2.5 story apartment complete with an additional seven living units. The construction of the parking garage calls for the demolition of four buildings, all of which are rental houses that will either be empty or not cost-efficient to repair.

If the proposal is approved, construction will start this spring with an estimated completion date in the fall of 2016.

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