GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids is a boomtown right now with cranes dotting the skyline marking new development.
One area seeing a lot of growth is on Monroe Avenue north of downtown, which is the second boom period for North Monroe.
The first was back in the early 2000s when old factories and warehouses were turned into apartments and condos like Boardwalk at 940 Monroe.
Nearly two decades later, the area is seeing new construction like River’s Edge. For Orion Construction's development arm, it’s their first big project in the North Monroe neighborhood.
“This particular project is out first opportunity to test the waters with some market rate housing,” said Jason Wheeler of Orion Construction.
A one-bedroom apartment in the recently completed project will go for about $1, 500 a month. With the views and talk of river restoration, Wheeler said it's worth the risk.
“We're very excited to see what happens with the river activation, which was an intention behind this project, to kind of be on the cutting edge of the other developers in the area,” he said.
Millions of dollars in new development is pouring into North Monroe and that's bringing in people.
“North Monroe's the new Ionia, just without the arena,” said Eric Albertson, who owns Speak EZ Lounge, located at Monroe Avenue and Trowbridge Street.
“Just take a look at the Grand Rapids Skyline, when's the last time you saw that many gantry cranes on the skyline?” Albertson said. “Grand Rapids is absolutely booming and a lot of that action is here on North Monroe.”
Albertson has seen the growth in the six years since he bought the place.
“We've got an organic population here, but we have people coming in to see North Monroe and it's really been a lot of fun,” he said.
A recently approved land swap gaves the City of Grand Rapids more riverfront park space and Michigan State University's School of Human Medicine room to expand is expected to accelerate the growth.
MSU has yet to determine what will go on its new site north of the research center at Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue.
“MSU sits on the gateway to North Monroe,” said Albertson. “So, the new facility, great looking structure. High end education, higher end education, that's nothing but good things for North Monroe.”
All the booming areas of the city have one problem in common, and that is parking. But Albertson said the neighborhood has been working with the city and he's confident they will come up with some solutions.