Exclusive look: Vacant Grand Rapids hotel has new life

The Rowe downtown houses a brewery, apartments and high-end condos

The Rowe, Grand Rapids
The Rowe, a newly renovated historic building on Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids. (Oct. 25, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The building once known as The Rowe Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids has been renovated and reopened as The Rowe.

The development is at Monroe Avenue and Michigan Street NW. It sat vacant for 15 years before CWD began the effort to revive it.

The Rowe is now home to 77 apartments and nine high-end condos. Rent ranges from just over $1,100 to around $2,000. The condos range in price from around $230,000 to $1 million.

THE LOBBY

CWD Vice President Nick Koster said the lobby of The Rowe is among his favorite parts of the development. The room features a raised work table, a seating area, a large flat screen TV and a glass-covered decorative fireplace.

“This is actually an original ceiling from the building that we restored,” Koster said. “There were four sections of this ceiling in the building. Three of them didn’t make it into the final project — this last one did.”

“When you walk in the door, I want it to feel like home and so we’ve done that with music and televisions, a fireplace — decorating. We want you to walk in and feel like you’re home,” he added.

LIVING SPACE

The apartments and condos feature various layouts. The smallest of the apartments is just over 600 square feet. All of the units have hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and smart thermostats that allow residents to control temperatures from a smartphone.

Most of the units have been spoken for, with 70 percent of the apartments rented out and seven of the nine condos purchased as of Tuesday.

ROOFTOP DECK

Another developer favorite is the rooftop deck. The community space features a picturesque view of Grand Rapids and the Grand River. There’s seating space and residents will be allowed to reserve the roof on a limited basis.

“We took some of the best real estate in the project and we made it a common amenity,” Koster said.

While the renovation cost some $28 million, developer said, the curb appeal of the building is similar to what it was when the hotel was built in 1923.

“To be able to bring it back and have it be beautiful and grand again is a really neat opportunity,” Koster said.

>>Watch: 360 video from inside The Rowe

The opportunity didn’t come without some major hurdles. Koster said the adjacent post office was key in making the project happen. Because there isn’t much space around The Rowe, developers had to occupy post office property during the construction.

There were also some hidden surprises — especially underground.

“Underground conditions caused delays and redesign of our structure on several occasions,” Koster said. “They basically filled in the canal with garbage. … So we had to rip that out and bring in good dirt that could actually bear foundations.”

Atwater Brewing Company has already opened on the ground floor with other retail developments on the way.

Koster said the revitalization of The Rowe is significant for the city beyond putting an old crumbling building back into use.

“Ultimately, residents are the key to all the other things we want to accomplish downtown,” Koster said. “It’s been exciting to see this project as well as the other ones bring those people here.”