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x99 last won the day on July 21 2012

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  1. New construction. Sod's not even in. https://www.grar.com/property/mls/17054304. It's a two story box with a granite counter. They have the same thoroughly ugly house in Sparta on a 3/4 acre lot for $260,000 with a three stall garage. Sable does not build fancy, but they do build a solid house.
  2. I did, and it is a $125,000 neighborhood for an average house. Granted, someone did pay a mind boggling $315,000 for a gut rehab. I suspect they will live to regret that bizarre decision.
  3. Look on grar. 2150 square foot house in Lowell, all above grade. $240k including the lot. Subtract out $40,000 for the lot and its $93 a foot, not counting the garage. There's stuff in Byron and Rockford all starting around $115 a foot. Again, not including garage, and assuming $40k on the lot. And that lot price in Byron and Lowell is probably too low. Eastbrook, Allen Edwin, and some others are all pulling this off. Sable Homes is pulling it off even a little cheaper, but those things are so ugly it's frightening. Still, you're at least not sharing a wall! But given construction costs like this, I have to question whether Gilmore could even pull it off. Maybe. I just don't understand who pays $300,000 to live in a $125,000 neighborhood. It doesn't take long before all of it is worth $125,000. Maybe he thinks he can build enough stuff to keep it self-sustaining. I suspect that's what the site plan is what it is, too. If they just split off lots and sell them, who would buy them and build on them? They need to build a little "community" which convincingly pulls off the illusion of value. And then there's always just the people who can't deal with an old house, I suppose.
  4. See, that's where I still get lost on this stuff... $255,000 for a townhome? No way. I had friends pay that much for a brand new, 2200 square foot single family out in the suburbs on a nice lot in a good neighborhood with a three stall attached garage. People originally built in the cities on small lots because it was supposed to be cheaper. You're right that there is a serious issue with affordability. That's insane. I expected maybe a $175k price point. My hat is off to you guys on this one. I would have run away screaming. My personal suspicion is that the building code, zoning codes, and a host of other rules and regulations have all conspired to price middle class people largely out of the market for decent affordable homes. Safe and insulated to the hilt though they may be, who cares if they are so expensive that only upper middle class people can afford them anyway. Even a house built to 1975 code would be a HUGE upgrade for most people living in the city.
  5. Perhaps I was a bit harsh. So allow me to be constructive. Your brownstones are among the best infill developments in Grand Rapids, and I have praised them before. The materials are top notch and it's clear this was a project with a lot of thought put into it. The brownstones in the drawings are beautiful. They would complement this "Paddock Place" concept very well. One of them has at least an air of an Italianate villa. But the "as built" photo has an issue. The style is attempting to be traditional, but the trim around the windows is wrong. It's simply a window cut into the side and then picture framed with some expensive materials. There is neither a sill on the bottom nor a lintel or pediment on the top. Admittedly, it's a common to see it done this way in tract housing and even some high end new construction, but it never ends up looking right. Granted, most people probably won't notice it until they see one next to it done right and the lightbulb suddenly goes off... Then they realize why it felt a little "off"... Don't take my criticism too harshly. I walked into a million dollar plus house on the Parade of Homes once and told the builder some of his trim was installed upside down. Funny thing is the guy knew it and just figured no one would notice. And you know what? No one else did. Little details just stand out to me for some reason.
  6. Some are good, some are bad. The posted photo from Belknap is a lost opportunity. Lots of money spent on materials for an architectural mess that could have and should have looked a lot better for no more money. Gilmore's HPC problem with is probably overbuilding the site. Even with pavement, the basic historic setting of this mansion is largely unblemished. The heavy construction really does detract from it quite a bit. Split lots on Luton and Paddock, remove them from the historic designation, and sell houses off. He still makes some money--not as much--but the site is not messed up and everyone wins. Won't happen, but a guy can hope...
  7. I usually agree with you, but pretty much every paragraph of this was questionable, so far as anyone who knows anything about this project and what the "people" wanted is concerned. The microunit project had zoning approval and HPC approval. THAT IS ALL IT TAKES TO BUILD SOMETHING. So who "kicked the legs out"? I don't know that it has ever been discussed, although I do see to recall Ted Lott posting that it had nothing to do with NIMBY anything. If I had to guess, I would guess it was bankers who tend to kick the legs out from under a lot of stuff. The only thing wrong with this store (beyond appearance) is people who are too snobbish and arrogant to go into a store that sells everything they wanted just because it says DOLLAR GENERAL on the door. The "neighborhood" wanted a neighborhood store. It got one. No, it is not beautiful, but it is a clean store that sells things people actually need other than liquor. I considered boycotting it. But that's stupid. Instead, shop there and comment about how awful it looks and how it needs windows. That's a better route, probably.
  8. Warner Tower - Lyon and Ottawa

    Crane is topping off just now. The cab is being mounted on the pivot right now, and will go up next. So if you see it heading home tonight, it will be at full height. Yeah. I've got nine or ten cranes I can see right now from my window. Lotsa cranes.
  9. They don't make a lot of sense on the site--they are designed to be facing a street--but it's about the last time I can think of where someone actually tried and did something other than bargain bin metal siding and an exterior design that could have been sketched up by a semi-talented 5th grader. Storage building chic seems to be all the rage in Grand Rapids these days. And I won't get too far into what makes projects fail, but I don't think any of them have failed entirely because HPC panned into the design, neighbors objected, or lawsuits were filed. Failures to execute more often than not can be chalked up to getting too far ahead of yourself before all of the necessary financing is lined up, or because zoning regulations intervened. All of the griping in the world from whatever corner will not stop a project that complies with the rules and which is reasonably profitable. If Gilmore has his cash lined up, and comes up with a "gotta have it" design aesthetic in this important location, he'll get his project, even if he might not quite get all of it. Depending on the historic designation and the building design, I can see this sight plan perhaps being a little bit aggressive.
  10. It isn't just Concept. It's most of the major firms. They all have a(n apparent) serious lack of talent when it comes to strong residential or urban design language. They need to hire a residential architect like Visbeen to do this. On the commercial side, Cornerstone Architects did the condos by the Women's Center, 545 Michigan, and Fairmount Square. Those projects are, BY FAR, the best "downtown" small-scale projects of the last 10 years. And they are the best not just by a little bit. By a country mile. To be fair, once Integrated got dragged kicking and screaming by HPC on the Cherry/Eastern design, it wound up very nice (albeit unbuilt). But they still have a bad tendency to try to sprinkle in some "pizzazz" that usually comes off looking hokey (just wait until the freakshow residential section of the old Wealthy McDonald's is done...). 50 College was okay, but it was still a little clumsy. A hack like me shouldn't be able to doctor up their design with Microsoft Paint and have people saying it looks better than the architects. Ah well, x99 deriding architects for designing urban junk is nothing new... Point is, you're right. People hate most infill projects because they look like crap. Instead of complementing the neighborhood, they tend to act as distractions and scream "LOOK AT ME I'M DIFFERENT AND NEW!!!". Which almost never works for anyone but architects.
  11. Proposed 400 room Hotel at Devos Place

    It was almost interesting until I saw Progressive AE's name attached to it. I just have a hard time getting excited about anything they have ever laid a hand on. I would hope we could at least get some sort of architectural competition for something of this scale and magnitude, if it ever gets off the starting line.
  12. Not a historic district. Presumably, it is a historic property. That's very unfortunate for Gilmore. Good luck to him.
  13. Amazon looking for a city to put HQ2

    They have to, in order to keep customers. Now that Amazon is charging sales tax, which placed it at a disadvantage versus smaller online retailers, it has to try to crush everyone else with next day delivery. As for Grand Rapids landing a major corporate headquarters, I'm torn. First, I'm at the point where I don't want to see another soul in downtown unless/until the city stops intentionally snarling up traffic and plugging up all of the ramps. I'm not convinced the geniuses in city hall could properly handle any sort of major influx to the area. Secondly, I don't want to see a bunch of incentives thrown at someone to try to convince them to locate here. This just imposes a mountain of costs on the rest of us as city leaders run to give away the farm to their shiny new MegaCo. Now, if MegaCo comes in and says, "We'll pay our own way for infrastructure, roads, ramps, taxes, and impose discipline and proper retail/office management on your city hall", I'm all in. But that's just not the way these things work. It's a race to the bottom to maximize profits, not to act as good corporate citizens helping to maintain the social contract. I will say I'm glad to see Right Place was involved. I have a hard time Birgit Klohs would have been so stupid as to allow the city to sell its soul to Jeff Bezos.
  14. Wealthy Street Needed Renovations

    Skipping the residential is a good call. The design of it to me did not complement the building well. Unless all of the transom windows still have glass in place, I would go with awnings. Historically, though, that is inaccurate. You can tell from the prism/reeded glass in the transoms. Those were designed to refract light into the interior of the building. Ideally, if some/all are still in place, you could restore them. Pristine Glass Co. should be able to do it.
  15. Grandville Castle Apartments

    They are. I mentioned this before. It's the most significant flaw on the entire project, and it's a major one. I am still hoping they fix it by having a piece of trim crafted which can be glued or screwed in place from inside the building. The trim piece should continue the white window surround over the top. The way it looks now, at least to my eyes, is bad enough to seriously damage the aesthetics of the entire project. It looks awful.