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111 South Division Project

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Grand Rapids Magazine

February 2005

The former Harris Furniture Building may well add even more dimension to the up-and-coming Heartside neighborhood. Spazio Development plans to renovate the building into a mixed commerical and residential space that would include 16 live-work lofts in a price range that would attract young, creative people.

"The building is structurally very sound and has some fantastic potential," said Dennis Sturtevant, CEO of Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids Inc. "It has extremely interesting architectural features. The second floor was at one time used as a lodge. It has a very large, domed ballroom. It would make a great performance space.

Spazio Development also sees the space as a perfect environment for a business consortium.

Sturtevant affirms that upscale apartments and condominums are vital to the heighborhoods success. He sees establishing middle-income residences there as one step toward the kind of reverse integration that will attract even higher income residents.

Across the street from the 111 South Division project, Dwelling Place and Calvin College are partnering in the "Avenue of the Arts" project, a renovation that will provide Calvin's art department with 10,000 sq. feet of studio and gallery space.

Also, the city of Grand Rapids will begin a $2 million dollar streetscape renovation of the Heartside neighborhood in April.

"Because of the arts focus, we see a lot of younger folks coming and looking for housing," Sturtevant says. "They are not going to be able to afford higher rent. But part of the solution is to make sure there is income diversity."

Spazio Development in anticipating that rent at 111 South Division will start at $650 per month for the 1000 sq. foot live-work lofts. To keep the rents affordable for artists and young adults, Spazio is pursuing Affordable Housing Tax Credits through the state of Michigan's (MSHDA's) Low Income Tax Credit "Cool Cities" allocation, as well as other grants.

"The cost associated with rehabilitation and construction make it very difficult for a developer to create housing units with affordable rents," Sturtevant said. "There needs to be an emphasis not only on market-rate units for higher income folks - they may not be the first to move into the area." -GR

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