Developer plans 2-story commercial project at vacant west side GR property

GRAND RAPIDS – A local real estate broker and developer plans to invest $ 572,000 to repurpose a vacant, two-story building on Grand Rapids’ west side for commercial use.

Urban Soil Realty Associate Broker Bradley Veneklase, doing business as 644 Bridge Street LLC, seeks to redevelop the 86-year-old building at 644 Bridge St. NW for a future retail, office or restaurant tenant.

Veneklase is the developer behind The Finnley Hotel, a five-room boutique hotel in the former Michigan National Bank building at 65 Monroe Center St. NW in downtown Grand Rapids.

At 644 Bridge St., Veneklase plans to replace the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems in the 3,600-square-foot building that the city assessor designed six years ago as “functionally obsolete.”

Veneklase’s plan also calls for interior and exterior upgrades, including new windows, trim, a new staircase and an outdoor courtyard. Grand Rapids-based Jeffrey Parker Architects Inc. serves as the project designer.

Veneklase in January acquired the property – which shares a block with Steel Cat Bar and Maggie’s Kitchen – through a warranty deed from a company registered to Josh Tyron, owner of Grand Rapids-based SideCar Studios LLCaccording to city property records.

“It’s a fun, entertaining area of ​​downtown, and I like the architecture, walkability and overall size of the building. It’s not too big or small and it could work for a lot of different kinds of companies, Veneklase told MiBiz. “I see a lot of potential growth for Bridge Street.”

Veneklase is seeking city approval for a 10-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation (OPRA) Exemption Certificate, which will be considered by the Grand Rapids City Commission during a July 12 public hearing. Veneklase said moving forward with the project is dependent on the city’s tax incentive approval.

The city in May 2016 approved an OPRA district, which allows for freezing the property’s taxable value, for a project that never materialized. Veneklase’s proposal meets city development objectives through the planned hiring of small minority- and women-owned subcontractors, according to a city memo. The project was also supported with a $ 20,000 grant from the West Side Corridor Improvement Authority.

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