Grand Rapids, Michigan is a rapidly growing city that is attracting individuals and families across the nation. Thriving in the art and culture scenes, exceptional educational opportunities, and access to renowned medical facilities, it’s no wonder why Grand Rapids was ranked #2 on Forbes’ 2014 list “America’s Best Cities for Raising a Family” (1). Businesses in Grand Rapids are also growing at a phenomenal rate, due to the strength of our medical, technological, and manufacturing industries. Based on the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for Q115, “the Grand Rapids market ranks among the top six U.S. markets for jobs, according to employers in the 100 largest MSAs [metropolitan statistical area]. … Grand Rapids posted a 26 percent net employment outlook” (2). Home to a large historical urban district, winner of “Beer City USA” (3), and recently named Lonely Planet’s #1 U.S. Travel Destination (4), Grand Rapids is garnering national attention.
As the demand for Downtown development continues to increase, local initiatives such as Grand Rapids Forward have stepped up to create comprehensive planning processes for the city. One step has been to hold public meetings where city residents can guide change in the Downtown area. Of the many goals of these publicly driven efforts, integrating the river as an active part of the city experience has been at the top of the list (5). The river, once our city’s life force, is ready for renovation to re-establish itself as a central part of Grand Rapids. By restoring recreational activity and tourism along a 2.2 mile stretch of downtown Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Whitewater Project (with collaboration from the Anderson Economic Group) estimates an overall economic stimulation of between $15.9 million and $19.1 million per year (6). Along with plans for the river, updating the city’s infrastructure (7) is seen by city residents as a vital part of ensuring continued growth of the local economy.
Grand Rapids residents aren’t only interested in revitalizing the city’s appeal to tourism. Public meetings have also focused on the drive to attract more permanent residents, more sustainable jobs, and more investors. The occupancy rental rate of over 98% already reflects the strong demand for living in the city (8), and the current Downtown apartment market consists of approximately 1,800 units (9), projected to nearly double in 2015. The demand for housing is boosting construction to a projected $200 million for development in current housing projects around Grand Rapids (see below). With market apartment rent nearing $2.00 per square foot for new construction (10), the investment outlook is certainly promising.
From being a fierce contender in the big league industries to its cultural recognition and growing tourism, Grand Rapids has proven its place on the map. It is abundant in history, is a leader in industry, and is sure to attract and retain top talent. It may start as a destination, but to many, it will become a place to call home.
Current Housing Projects, Grand Rapids:
Lake Michigan Drive and Lexington Avenue
63 market rate apartments
Estimated investment: $12 million
Status: approval process
Developer: Cherry Street Capital
Architect: Integrated Architecture
555 and 601 Michigan Street
42 market rate apartments - 2 buildings
Estimated investment: $5.1 million
Status: approval process
Developer: Third Coast Development
Gateway at Belknap (Coit and Hastings)
86 market rate apartments, mixed-use
Developer: Orion Construction
Architect: Concept Design Group
Lofts on Clancy (also in Belknap)
66 market rate apartments
Estimated investment: $8 million
Status: demolition of existing homes finished
Developer: RJM Holdings
Architect: Nederveld Associates
83 income-restricted apartments
Estimated investment: $21 million
Status: renovation underway
Developer: Mike Jacobson
(1) Van Riper, Tom. "The Best Cities For Raising A Family." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 16 Apr. 2014.
(2) Evans, Pat. "Grand Rapids Ranks No. 4 in US for Winter Jobs Outlook." GRBJcom. Grand Rapids Business Journal. N.p., 10 Dec. 2014.
(3) Papazian, Charlie. "Grand Rapids, Michigan Is BeerCity USA 2013." Examiner.com. N.p., 13 May 2013.
(4) Wolman, Emily. "Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2014." Lonely Planet. N.p., 10 Dec. 2013
(5) Harger, Jim. "See 6 Goals Planners Have Identified for Downtown Grand Rapids and the Grand River." MLive. MLive Media Group, 12 Jan. 2015.
(6) Watkins, Scott D., and Sara N. Bowers. "Economic Benefits of the Grand Rapids Whitewater Project." Grand Rapids Whitewater, Inc., 11 June 2014.
(7) Potter, Rachel. "Grand Rapids Invests in Its Own Infrastructure and Success." Examiner.com. Grand Rapids Business Examiner, 13 May 2014.
(8) Triad Real Estate Partners. Grand Rapids Market Research Report. Chicago, IL: n.p., 17 Dec. 2014. PDF.
(9) Hill, Jeff. "On the Cusp of a Downtown Apartment Boom?" Rapid Growth. Rapid Growth Media, 02 Oct. 2014.
(10) Triad Real Estate Partners. Downtown Grand Rapids Apartment Market Research Report. Chicago, IL: n.p., 22 May 2014. PDF.
Cover Photo Source: Brad Gillette from Chicago, IL, United States [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons