First Companies

First Companies receives fantastic feedback on the 616 Lofts project.

First Companies receives fantastic feedback on the 616 Lofts project.The state of Michigan has fought back many economic issues in the past decade, and First Companies has done its part in the Grand Rapids area to help further modernize and develop the growing downtown district, including a new residential loft project with street-level retail and commercial space.

First Companies provides a wide range of services, in essence working as a construction company, real estate brokerage house, commercial developer and property manager.

“First Companies is about creating spaces where people and businesses thrive,” says Craig Schroeder, project manager for First Companies. “We locate, construct, develop and manage spaces for our
First Companies receives fantastic feedback on the 616 Lofts project.clients, with expertise in each of these areas under one roof.”

First Companies started in commercial real estate nearly 50 years ago. As the company expanded to include construction and property management capabilities, the result was a highly productive and cohesive team environment and customer-centric approach that has permeated the corporate culture.

“Our management style is unique and caters to the specific needs of each project and client,” Schroeder says. “We have a top-down servant leadership attitude and believe in providing a truly ‘open book’ with the highest level of transparency with our clients.”

First Companies’ broad range of expertise and services has set the foundation for their current success. The services start from concept and include: project scheduling and budgeting assistance, identifying financing options, property acquisitions, tax abatements, regulatory and zoning issues, and more.

One of First Companies’ most valued assets is the staff they have assembled, which includes a civil engineer, commercial realtors with CCIM distinction, LEED-accredited professionals, a master electrician, interior designer and certified property manager. This gives them the ability to work with clients in making build, buy or lease decisions and help them assess many options from both a building and investment perspective.

“We have a vice president of construction who leads a core team of project managers. For each project, we identify who is the best fit to meet the client’s needs,” Schroeder says. “We will assign two or three project managers on a project, if necessary, but there is always one project manager that serves as the main point of contact. This flexibility sets us apart from our competitors and best utilizes the broad skill set of our team.”

The First Companies team was hired to fill the role of general contractor for multiple 616 Development
projects, which have been historically located in the Center City district of Grand Rapids, until recently.

“Our previous projects with 616 Development have been historic renovation projects that were mixed use,” Schroeder says. “This is the first project we are doing together constructing from the ground up.”

616 Lofts on Michigan is a revitalized community that is attracting residents who care about living urban with exceptional, highly desirable market-rate apartments, and focus on community creation. Having completed several successful projects together, First Companies is once again partnering with 616 Development, a boutique real estate development firm dedicated to re-energizing unused spaces in the downtown Grand Rapids area. The result of 616 Lofts on Michigan will be on display in early 2016 when the project is completed.

“Our mission is to revitalize downtown Grand Rapids by transforming old, vacant real estate into vibrant spaces for urban living that will become people’s homes,” says Derek Coppess, founder and managing director of 616 Development. “By up-cycling historic buildings into apartment lofts, we are executing that mission, and with First Companies help, we have done it as experts. From the beginning to the end, First Companies has been an adept partner with superior skill and expertise, and we cannot be happier with the result.”

The 616 Lofts on Michigan project will feature 54 apartment units, a 60-car underground parking facility, as well as retail/commercial space on street level. The apartments are a combination of studio, one- and two bedroom residences. The first floor of the development has over 12,000 square feet available for lease. There will be three floors of residences, highlighted by a rooftop social area that oversees the Michigan corridor, and private balconies in select apartments.
First Companies receives fantastic feedback on the 616 Lofts project.

“We have had to work with our neighbors downtown and the proper associations to allow for the improvement,” Schroeder says. “This is a site where the building footprint extends to within two feet of the property line as the complex sits on the busy Michigan Street corridor down the hill from the city’s biggest hospital.

“It is definitely a high-visibility project that requires close coordination,” Schroeder adds.

Ideally, 616 Development will have residents for the new apartment complex and tenants for the retail space by the time the project is completed in early 2016.