In what will be its sixth residential project in the city of Grand Rapids, 616 Development
will be undertaking the conversion of the historic Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 253 Prospect in Heritage Hill into market rate apartments called 616 Lofts on Prospect. Only a handful of such church conversion redevelopments have taken place in historic districts in the U.S.
According to the developers, the repurposed church will house 22 market rate apartments which will include 1 studio, 11 one-bedroom units, and 10 two-bedroom units. A fitness room and a community room will be available for all 616 Lofts on Prospect residents. Approximately 26 on-site parking spaces will also be available to residents and guests.
Residents nearby had raised concerns in the past about lack of parking in the area, with pressure building from the development on Michigan Street to the North. But Derek Coppess of 616 says that they have been working closely with the community, the City, and the Historic Preservation Commision to create a project that enhances the area. Certain variances were sought to allow some stained glass exterior windows to be removed to allow for operable windows as well as other minor alterations.
"We're very excited about the project. We have our eyes on some other larger projects that will have a huge impact on the city, but smaller infill projects like Lofts on Prospect are also part of our DNA," said Coppess during a tour of the building, currently undergoing demolition.
Many of the upper floor units will include the large timbers that support the church's roof, as well as the original arched window frames and stained glass.
The church has been vacant since 2007, when the congregation sold the building to developers and moved to a smaller space to help serve the Heartside community. A similar project to redevelop the church launched in 2009 called Renatus on the Hill
would have included up to 16 individual condominiums, but stalled during the downturn in the housing market and tightened lending requirements for condo projects.
Lott3Metz is the architect on the project. More info can be found at 616 Lofts on Prospect
Source: Monica Clark, Derek Coppess, 616 Development
Writer: Jeff Hill, Publisher at Rapid Growth Media.
Photos by Jeff Hill