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GRAND RAPIDS, MI-The newly-formed firm Locus Development is already hard at work on its first project, 38 Commerce, at the corner of Western and Commerce streets in the Downtown. The mixed-use site will consist of two buildings, together making up about 80,000 sf, that will shield from view a 360-space, city-owned parking garage. The entire project will cost about $26 million.

The public-private partnership was born from the desire for more parking for the area, says Andy Winkel, who with partner John Green formed Locus earlier this year. “There’s a lot of buildings that are underused in the area, but commercial developers complain that they can’t fill them because there’s not enough parking in the Heartside Area of Downtown,” he tells GlobeSt.com. His company partnered with the city on the idea to build the garage façade as working commercial property. The city has secured financing from Mercantile Bank for its $10 million portion of the project.

The building along Commerce will have ground-floor retail, 35 apartments and eight penthouse condominiums, Winkel says. The condos will be priced at about $260 per sf and the rent for the apartments will be between $800 to $1,600 per month. The Weston-side building will have a 4,000-sf restaurant on the bottom floor, that will be connected to a rooftop deck from a dedicated elevator. The remaining floors will be used for office space, he says.

One unique amenity, Winkel says, is that the residential and office on the higher floors will have dedicated parking that will lead directly to each floor. “For example, if your apartment or office is on the fourth floor, you’ll be able to drive up to that floor, park, then walk through a small corridor without having to go up a step,” he says.

The company is now engrossed in the design process, Winkel says, and hopes to start construction in the late fall/early winter, with completion by the end of 2009. He says there is interest by residents and the business community, but no leases have been signed yet.

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