The second floor of the former Superior Furniture building is being transformed into loft apartments, and if all goes according to schedule, 12 units will be move-in ready by the end of the year. Brent Slagell, one of the developers behind the Superior Lofts project, says he hopes the apartments will fill a gap in the local housing market.
“I’ve learned that there seems to be a shortage of affordable housing in Lowell,” he says. Slagell, who also owns Big Boiler Brewing, notes many of the restaurant’s 43 staff members live outside Lowell in surrounding communities such as Saranac. They say there is little housing available in town in their price range. Slagell hopes to change that.
As currently planned, Superior Lofts will offer 11 two bedroom, two bathroom units that will range in size from 905-1080 square feet. They are expected to rent for $1,050 a month. A single one bedroom, one bathroom unit will also be available. It will be 790 square feet and is expected to have a rental price of $950 a month. Two of the units will be barrier free.
Modern Living in a Historic Building
Slagell says he is trying to keep the units’ rental prices as low as possible, but he also wants to create an exceptional living experience. “You’re going to get a really nice unit at an affordable price,” he says.
Care is being taken to soundproof the units as much as possible with the development making use of double walls and a second floor built on top of the existing one. This construction method will not only minimize noise but also keep pipes and other mechanical elements hidden. In order to keep exposed beams in the ceilings, Slagell is adding a second roof to the building to hold insulation.
“It should have a neat contrast between new and old,” Slagell says. While the windows will be replaced, they will remain the same size and a similar style as the current windows. Meanwhile, the exterior façade will be updated with new bricks that will complement the historic building. However, there will also be modern touches. For instance, each unit will have multiple thermostat controls – one in each bedroom and one in the living room – to allow for maximum comfort of everyone within an apartment.
Dedicated parking for residents will be provided in a lot behind the building, and each unit will have its own laundry hook-ups as well.
Project Contingent on State Funding
Last month, the Lowell Planning Commission approved the plans for Superior Lofts. However, there is still one more hurdle to be cleared before the project can proceed as envisioned. That is funding from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.
“There are a lot of challenges to renovating these old buildings,” Slagell says. Overcoming those challenges isn’t cheap either. The entire Superior Lofts project is expected to cost $1.9 million, not including the cost of the building itself. To help redevelop downtown areas, the state offers grants to defray the costs of rehabilitating old buildings. While the Superior Lofts grant application is still being considered, Slagell is confident the project will qualify.
Once completed, Slagell says the new units should provide a unique living experience. “I really think downtown Lowell is becoming a happening place to live,” he notes. The city offers a number of festivals, dining and entertainment options. “It’s not Grand Rapids,” Slagell concedes, “but you’re not paying $3,000 [in rent] either.”
If all goes as planned, the leasing process for Superior Lofts should begin in September or October with move-in dates as early as December. More information on the application process is expected to be available later in the year.