Riverside Senior Care Gets Authority’s OK

Northern Michigan developer wants to convert school into senior housing.

By David Czurak
May 3, 2013

A Harbor Springs multi-family housing developer had its plan amendment approved by the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for a new senior living center on the city’s northeast side.

G.A. Haan Development wants to turn the former Riverside Elementary School at 2420 Coit Ave. NE into an assisted living and memory care facility for up to 55 seniors. The Grand Rapids Public Schools system closed Riverside in 2010 and sold the 36,000-square-foot building and its site to Haan Development last year.

“The property qualifies as being functionally obsolete,” said Jonathan Klooster of the brownfield authority.

“Total investment in the project is estimated to be $6.8 million, resulting in 51 new jobs with wages ranging from $11 to $35 per hour,” added Klooster.

Of that investment, a little more than $1 million will be spent on brownfield-eligible activities such as demolition, asbestos removal, site preparation, public improvements, and the creation of a brownfield plan for what will be called Riverside Senior Care.

Post Associates, a local architectural firm, is designing the project, which includes a 15,000-square-foot addition.

“We’re trying to maintain the existing architecture,” said Mark Post. “We’re adding a dining area, a new kitchen and maintaining a lobby area.”

Post also said Haan Development is donating a portion of the 7.5-acre site to the city for a playground. Riverside Middle School is located near the site. Post added that Haan Development will maintain the neighborhood’s existing walking path.

Right now, construction is set to begin late this year and likely will take a year to complete.

The developer’s request now goes to the City Commission for review.

Haan Development has built multi-family housing units and senior-living facilities in northern Michigan, and has completed similar developments in Wyoming and North Dakota.

In addition to Riverside, GRPS sold three other elementary schools to developers last year.

The former Oakdale Elementary has been successfully turned into a charter school by National Heritage Academies. However, the brownfield authority reported no work has been done to Eastern or Lexington, schools that were purchased by GR School Lofts LLC of Berkley, Mich.

Both were residential projects and both were granted a brownfield last year.

Also, the authority reimbursed 21 developers a total of $2.1 million for their brownfield projects over the first three quarters of the fiscal year. The payments ranged from a high of $617,756 to a low of $3,986.

David Czurak is a Grand Rapids Business Journal staff reporter who covers city and county government, real estate, construction, architecture and design, and sports business. Email David at dczurak at grbj dot com. Follow him on Twitter @dczurak

Plan to convert Riverside School to senior housing qualifies for tax breaks

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A $7 million plan to convert Riverside Elementary School into a 55-unit licensed senior care facility took a step forward on Thursday, May 2, when the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved a series of tax breaks for the project.

Architect Mark E. Post said the project at 2420 Coit Ave. NE will demolish the school’s gymnasium and administrative offices and create a new dining area and kitchen. He said the 59-year-old building will be rebuilt in a “Craftsman and Frank Lloyd Wright design.”

Developer G.A. Haan, of Harbor Springs, has created similar developments around the country, Post said. Some of the 7.5-acre playground on the site may be donated to the city for parkland, he said.

Haan purchased the property from Grand Rapids Public Schools for purchased the property from Grand Rapids Public Schools for $510,000 $510,000 last year last year after it was closed in 2010. The project is eligible for $1.1 million in tax breaks to help fund the demolition, asbestos abatement and site preparation activities.

The Riverside property is one of several the school board has closed and sold in the past year.

The tax credits approved Thursday now go to the full City Commission for approval.

E-mail Jim Harger: jharger@mlive.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHHarger twitter.com/JHHarger