Grand Rapids board approves $21.6M brownfield plan for Creston mixed-use project

Media Mention

By Kate Klemp August 28, 2023

By Kate Carlson

Originally Published in Crain’s Grand Rapids Business

The city of Grand Rapids has advanced a nearly $21.6 million brownfield plan for the first phase of a large mixed-use project planned at the former Display Pack building in the city’s Creston neighborhood.

The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved the brownfield plan for the first phase of the RiverNorth project, which is being developed by Oak Brook, Ill.-based commercial real estate firm Franklin Partners. The development team announced plans for the 307,000-square-foot former manufacturing site in May at a Creston Neighborhood Association meeting.

The proposed site plan calls for demolishing the three existing buildings at 1340 Monroe Ave. NW and constructing two separate, four-story structures on the north and south end of the site. Plans also call for a parking deck in the middle of the property between the two apartment buildings.

“We bought this with the intent of office redevelopment back in 2015, and obviously there has been a series of changes with the pandemic of all sorts of things in our world,” said Ray Warner, partner at Franklin Partners. “This seems to be the best and highest use for our site. We’ve looked at this for a number of years now.”

Franklin Partners acquired the industrial property, which includes the 104-year-old Display Pack building, in 2015 for $7 million. Franklin Partners worked with several developers over the years that were unsuccessful at developing the site.

The brownfield plan approved Wednesday is only for the first phase of the project, which includes constructing a 226,500-square-foot building on the north end of the site with 260 apartments and 1,818 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. An adjacent 448-space, three-level parking deck would also be included.

Eligible costs for the brownfield funding include demolition, lead and asbestos abatement and site preparation.

Wolverine Building Group is the general contractor for the project and Ghafari Associates is the architect.

The second phase of the project calls for a similarly designed building with about the same number of apartment units on the south end of the site. The developer plans to apply for a brownfield amendment for the second phase of the project.

The Grand Rapids City Commission plans to consider the brownfield plan at its Oct. 10 meeting. Phase one is estimated to cost about $75 million. Developers are also applying for a 15-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax exemption for the project.

The RiverNorth project is located near two other multifamily projects in Creston, including a 72-unit project that broke ground this month at 220 Quimby St. NE, and a 110-unit project along Plainfield Avenue near the Grove Street intersection.