Wolverine Building Group
Wolverine Building Group is building the largest wood frame apartment complex in Grand Rapids, Mich.
By Kat Zeman
Recognized as one the most stable and respected building and management firms in the Midwest, Wolverine Building Group is bringing another prominent project to Michigan.
The Brix at Midtown, a new 287-unit apartment complex, is under construction near the Medical Mile corridor in Grand Rapids. By the time construction is completed in November, it will be the largest wood frame apartment complex in Grand Rapids.
“This project is designed for young professionals,” Senior Project Manager Troy Redman says. “Since it’s down the street from the Medical Mile, we are hoping to generate interest from young doctors and nurses who work in the area.”
Clinical, research and academic institutions line the Medical Mile corridor, attracting medical professionals from around the world. Their influx has spurred a variety of new retail and residential developments, transforming this once sleepy town into a bustling center of activity.
The Brix at Midtown will join other prime developments in this prominent location. The $53 million project, which started construction in 2016, consists of two four- to five-story buildings and offers luxury living space in a prominent location. Including the parking lot, the complex encompasses roughly 443,900 square feet.
Its amenities include a gated off-street parking deck, fitness area and yoga room, indoor golf simulator, heated outdoor pool, community fire pit and a clubhouse. There’s also 6,000 square feet of outdoor courtyard space with ample green space. Individual units feature walk-in closets, private balconies, vinyl plank flooring, a washer/dryer and bike storage area.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the complex is that it offers its future residents a choice of 28 different floor plans. “That’s not common,” Redman says. “It sort of evolved into that based on the size of the property and the property lines. We had to get creative with angles and to make things fit and to keep some of the interior courtyard areas. But that made it interesting.”
The Brix at Midtown offers one- to three-bedroom units that will cost between $1,350 and $1,965 per month. The development is managed by Valdosta, Ga.-based RISE real estate.
Another prominent project that Wolverine is building this year is designed for college students. The company is in the process of completing a large student housing project near Michigan State University in Lansing. SkyVue Apartments, an eight- and nine-story complex featuring 338 units, will open its doors to students this summer. The $66 million off-campus living complex ranks among Wolverine’s top projects this year.
Less than a 10-minute walk from the university, SkyVue is designed with a college lifestyle in mind. The new building will offer one-, two- and four-bedroom units with individual leases. Amenities will include a fitness center, study lounge and computer lab, several other lounges, community rooms and a 9th floor Skylounge with a fireplace.
There will be an expansive outdoor seating area with a gas fire pit and ample green space for cornhole board games. Students will also be able to soak in a 30-person community hot tub. To emulate a college atmosphere, the complex will host a number of monthly events and social gatherings. SkyVue is designed to offer its residents a sense of community that allows them to study and socialize with friends in a cost-effective environment.
Sporting a soft spot for historic buildings, Wolverine has become known for a variety of historical renovations in Michigan. A recentproject focused on an abandoned and boarded-up building that once was an orphanage in Marquette.
Since June 2016, Wolverine has been working on breathing new life into this empty building while maintaining its historic demeanor. The Holy Family Orphanage building, built in 1915, has been vacant since 1965. The historic six-story building featured classrooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, playrooms, a laundry room, kitchen and a grand dining hall. It once housed up to 200 children.
As Wolverine has done with past historic renovations, the orphanage will maintain its iconic appearance. However, it is being transformed into a 56-unit affordable housing complex called Grandview Marquette. Fourteen of these units will serve as shelters for homeless families. The remaining units will be rented for around $275 per month, based on the tenant’s income.
Ability to Specialize
Founded in 1939, Wolverine Building Group started as Wolverine Tile Company, specializing in tile installation and gas station construction. It 1957, it changed its name to Wolverine Building Group, Inc.
The company’s success led it to expand into four distinct specialty divisions. Wolverine Building Group became one of the four, a division that specializes in building manufacturing facilities, warehouses, offices and retail projects for some of west Michigan’s finest companies. It operates under the leadership of its president, Mike Kelly.
The other three divisions include Wolverine Construction Management, Wolverine Multi-Family and Wolverine North America. “Having four different divisions helps us differentiate ourselves because each division specializes within a specific type of construction as well as construction delivery methods to meet the needs of our owners,” Redman says.
Wolverine Construction Management was founded in 1993 as a separate division of Wolverine Building Group. Led by its president, Dick VanderZyden, this division has seen stable growth over the years. The majority of its construction projects operate in west and central Michigan. Healthcare and educational facilities are its specialty.
Wolverine Multi-Family sprung from a company called Fryling Construction, which was founded in 1945. It focused on building enclosed shopping malls. Later, it expanded into building multifamily homes. After its founder’s death in 1993, the firm was looking for a like-minded partner. It found that partnership with Wolverine in 1995. Today it specializes in construction of multi-unit facilities, student housing complexes, assisted-living developments, condominiums and historic renovations. It’s also under the leadership of VanderZyden.
Wolverine North America was founded in 2006 as a separate division of Wolverine Building Group, offering full-service program management and construction services for projects throughout the nation. In 2009, Wolverine North America merged with Houseman Construction Company, a general contracting company focused on clients with multi-site development needs. Wolverine North America is under the leadership of President Mike Houseman.