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24 'micro-lofts' included in downtown's $33M 'Venue Tower' apartment project


Jim Harger MLive
Published 2 / 4 / 16

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Will downtown renters go for "micro-loft" apartments that have less floor space than a two-stall garage?

They will if it's in the middle of downtown's hottest entertainment district, said developers of the $32.7 million Venue Tower and Venue entertainment complex. The developers staged a "ceremonial" groundbreaking at the B.O.B. nightclub, next door to the construction site at 20 Monroe Ave. NW on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Orion Real Estate Solutions, which once had included six "artist lofts" for their long-delayed project, is now planning to include 24 "micro-lofts" with less than 500 square feet of floor space in the 11-story apartment building.

"The motivation behind the micro-lofts is to create living space that goes beyond being small. It's about efficiency and impact of everything from the physical space to the utilities to the lifestyle it encourages," said Orion President John Wheeler.

"These are not for the tenant who spends 15 hours a day at their apartment. These are designed for the active urbanite who desires quality, not quantity," said Wheeler.

The micro-lofts will feature narrow galley kitchens with smaller appliances and "Murphy beds" that can fold up when the occupant is not sleeping.

"More than a quarter of the households in the United States today are made up of one person. Many are young professionals, and a growing number are looking for well designed, highly efficient living space in urban areas," said Tom Tooley, vice president of Concept Design and the project's architect.

The 88-unit apartment project also will include 44 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two bedroom apartments. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017.

“These are not for the tenant who spends 15 hours a day at their apartment."

"The tower will offer a variety of floor plans all featuring large windows and efficient kitchen and living space allowing for entertaining," Tooley said. "The sleek, modern design of each unit will reflect the contemporary feel of the steel and glass exterior."

Kris Larson, president of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., said the smaller units will help diversify the downtown population as planners pursue their goal of having 10,000 households in the downtown area.

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The Venue Tower is part of a three-phase project being built on a former city parking lot that surrounds the B.O.B., a nightclub that was opened 18 years ago by the Gilmore Collection shortly after the Van Andel Arena opened across W. Fulton Street.

The $32.7 million project also will include a three-story concert and entertainment complex and a Bavarian-style beer garden. The entertainment venue will have room for up to 2,400 seats and will host up to 120 shows a year and generate more than $3 million in new spending annually, Larson said.

When the project is complete, Gilmore Collection President Greg Gilmore said they hope to employ 150 persons in the block that includes the B.O.B.

Gilmore, who has been planning the expansion since 2005, was relieved to be celebrating the project's formal groundbreaking. Gilmore bought the city parking lot for $1.9 million in 2009 and has received several extensions on his development agreement with the city since then.

"It takes a village to do something like this, as Hillary would say," he quipped.

Jim Harger covers business for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him atjharger@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google+.