Park Sculpture Receives Makeover

Remember that giant red button on the west side of Ah-Nab-Awen Park? Well it’s about to get a much needed makeover! The sculpture has received quite a lot of damage from years of neglect. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. has designated up to $5,000 for the repair of this beloved sculpture, with work being completed as weather conditions allow.button.jpg

Laughfest attempts to set a new world record! We need you!

The nation’s first ever community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, has announced plans to kick off this year’s festival by inviting the community to help set another Guinness Worldlaughfest Record on Thursday, March 6, for the most people wearing sunglasses in the dark. The Community Kickoff will take place at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids and will include giveaways, a photo booth, and all world record participants will receive official LaughFest sunglasses, which are being supplied by Baudville.  The world record attempt will be followed with opening night events at downtown restaurants and a free comedy preview show.

The current Guinness World Record was achieved in July 2012 by 1,642 participants at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill.

March 6 – LaughFest Kickoff

5:30/6 p.m. – pre-kickoff activities, line-up

7:00 p.m. – world record practice and preliminary instructions

7:15 p.m. – official attempt to break the existing record


Gilda’s Club provides support for children living with cancer or grief, and for in-school emotional health programs. Bring a SMILE to the face of a child and give us a “High Five” today. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face as well!  All proceeds go directly to the Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and Lowell. Give us a “High Five” ($5 donation) any time between now and the end of Laughfest, and your “High Five” gift will be matched (up to $50,000) by five corporate partners – turning your $5 donation into $10! Our goal? To generate $100,000 – Click for more information or to purchase your HIGH FIVE buttons!

Amazing River House Condominium $1,600.000


River House Condominiums

A big thank you to Jim Hargar of M-live for taking the time to write a fantastic article about this amazing condo in River House in downtown Grand Rapids!

Click Here to see the complete article.

River House Condominiums continues to be the most sought after condominium project in downtown Grand Rapids!  The downtown market is moving at a very brisk pace with most units selling shortly after they hit the market.  Not to worry, we always have units available for sale or lease.  Give us a call.

River House Facts:

-Your River House Sales Team has sold the original 206 units and resold 72 units  and counting (Owners  are selling for various reasons:  job transfers, retiring, having children, etc.)

-This means your River House Sales Team (on average) has sold more than 1 condo every week since January, 2009

-This year alone the average unit has increased in value approximately 17%

-Each listing averages a selling price of 97% of the list price.

-Each listing stays on the market an average 14 days or less

If you are looking to buy or sell  a condominium in downtown Grand Rapids, who better than the Urban Lifestyle Specialists to make it a reality!

Chuck Gallagher, Realtor
Kate Bylsma, Realtor

River House Wins Prestigious Design Award!

Wow!  A great time was had by all as we celebrated all things River House.  The homeowner party was such a success that we are pleased to announce that we will continue to host these events throughout the year in an effort to meet new neighbors and build an even greater community.

We are so proud of our 100% sold status and continue to be busy showing resales to prospective homeowners.   River House continues to be one of the most desired residences in luxury living!

But the news doesn’t stop there!  River House was recently awarded a prestigious design award.  The American Institute of Building Design recently held its Residential Design Awards Competition.  This 50 year old competition highlights creativity, innovation in design, custom luxury, renovation and more.  We are pleased to announce that River House along with Visbeen Architects was awarded first place in the multi-design category. It is honor to have received the top design award in the country! This is just another reason that River House is the best in downtown living.

If you are interested in living downtown or in selling a current home,  contact us at 616.726.2900.

3200 dining room

River House Hits a Monumental Milestone!

River House recently met a monumental milestone!  The sale of the last white box marked the property at 100% occupancy!  But the River House story doesn’t end there.  Our homeowners have seen such an increase in their property values (10-12% in the last 90 days alone) that they are finding it to be an extremely good time to sell.  In fact most of our listings have sold in days, if not hours!   What does that mean?  It means there is still availability for you to live in River House – arguably the premier downtown living destination.  If you are interested in selling a current home or purchasing downtown, contact us at 616-726-2900.

To find out more about River House, click here.

If it’s info about downtown living you’re looking for, click here.


Clark Place – New Condominiums Downtown Grand Rapids

Here is another great new addition to the Downtown Grand Rapids Condominium scene. Clark Place!

The transformation of a former brick and concrete warehouse into American Seating Park’s Clark Place (801 Broadway NW) happened half a dozen or so years ago, bringing a mix of office spaces and luxury apartments to Grand Rapids’ West Side.
amp_theaterThere is  a high demand for more condominiums in the downtown area and a lack of supply means the time is ripe to convert Clark Place’s 22 apartments to condominiums.
The 22 units, all on the top (4th) floor of the building, are occupied. Purchase options have been offered to the current residents, Two condos are sold, another two under consideration, and anything not spoken for by May 1 will go on the market.
Each unit has 13-ft. ceilings, all-concrete construction, exposed brick walls, stainless steel appliances, and hook-ups for full-sized washers and dryers. Units range from one bedroom, one bath for $129,900 to four bedrooms, four baths for $380,000. most of the units have two bedrooms, two baths with an average price of $187,000.The demand for condominiums downtown Grand Rapids is exploding.  The current inventory is very low and the demand is very high.  Eleven of the Clark Place units overlook downtown to the south, the other 11 overlook the outdoor amphitheater area to the north.
There is one unit that has a library wall with a rolling ladder, two have wet bars, one has two-story ceilings with a small loft, and a couple are corner units with views in two directions. All have parking garages.
A condo model is open for viewing. For more information or to arrange a viewing, click here.
For a complete listing of All available Grand Rapids Downtown Condominiums.  click here.

Chuck Gallagher, Realtor

Urban Lifestyle Specialist

Housing Market in 2013: Things are looking good!

Some believe that our coverage of the housing market at times is too optimistic. Today, we want to report on FreddieRiver House Condominiums Mac’s projections for the real estate market in 2013 as per their latest U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, explains:

“Across the nation, most local housing markets have room for sustainable growth, particularly in home construction and sales. As the broader economy heals, expect to see more good news with house prices continuing their recent upward trend, and home sales and housing starts continuing to post strong growth rates.”

The report also offered projections on sales and prices.

Housing Starts and Sales

  • Projecting housing starts in 2013 will increase to 950,000 units or about 22 percent higher than 2012 levels.Housing on the rise
  • Existing home sales are expected to pick-up as the house price recovery allows homeowners who have been forced on the sidelines by negative equity to get back into the market.

House Prices

  • While most metro areas saw substantial run-ups in prices during the boom, well above income growth, the subsequent market correction was in many cases more severe.
  • The level of affordability in most markets suggests a continued improvement in home prices, and strong growth in sales and construction.

It seems Freddie Mac is also optimistic about the future of real estate in the U.S.

Click Below to see what is available in the Downtown Grand Rapids Area!

River House Condominiums  CLICK HERE

All Grand Rapids Downtown Condominiums  CLICK HERE

5 Reasons You Should Buy a Home NOW!

Many potential buyers are waiting until they can be 100% sure the real estate market has fully recovered before making the move to purchase a home. Here are five reasons why waiting might not make sense any longer:

1.) Prices Are on the Rise

The latest Case Shiller Home Price Index revealed that home prices have appreciated 5.5% over the last year. This is occurring across the nation as increases 3200 dining roomwere reported in 19 of 20 metros. The Home Price Expectation Survey, which polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for continued appreciation over the next five years.

2.) Mortgage Interest Rates Are Expected to Increase

The Mortgage Bankers Association has predicted that, after reaching record lows in 2012, mortgage rates will creep up slowly in 2013 to 4.4%. Rates have already increased by 2/10 of a point (3.32 to 3.53) in the last two months.

3.) Rents Are Continuing to Skyrocket

Recently, Zillow reported that rents in the U.S. increased by 4.2% over the last year. Increases were 5% or more in many major metropolitan areas including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, San Jose and Charlotte.

4.) New Mortgage Regulations Will Be Announced Later This Year

Six regulators, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are currently drafting the new Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule. They will decide on two major requirements for buyers looking to qualify for a mortgage: minimum down payment and minimum FICO score. Many experts believe the new rules will be more stringent than current requirements.

5.) Timelines Will Be Shorter

The dramatic increase in transactions caused many challenges to the process of buying or selling a home in 2012. We waited for inspections, dealt with last minute appraisals and prayed that the bank didn’t ask for ‘just one more piece of paper’ before issuing a commitment on the mortgage. There are fewer transactions this time of year. That means that timetables on each component of the home buying process will be friendlier for those involved in transactions over the next 90 days.

These are five good reasons why you should consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

Celebrate New Years Eve Downtown Grand Rapids’ Style

Jesse McCartney, Baby Bash, Sylvia Yacoub, The Outer Vibe fire up Grand Rapids’ Hot-FM New Year’s Eve Party

Grand Rapids’ outdoor New Year’s Eve bash returns to Monroe Avenue near Rosa Parks Circle downtown with a free concert and midnight ball drop. Singer Sylvia Yacoub has replaced New Boyz and the event will be televised live for the first time. See the full schedule below.

Pop singer and actor Jesse McCartney will perform and emcee this year’s Hot New Year’s Eve Party downtown.


Sure, we all made it past Dec. 21 — and all that Mayan-ocalypse prattle — so, rest assured that Grand Rapids will now be able to celebrate the New Year in style.

Headlined by young pop/R&B singer and actor Jesse McCartney, the Hot New Year’s Eve Party hosted by 105.3 Hot-FM and Cumulus Media once again will take place outdoors in downtown Grand Rapids – on Monroe Avenue south of Pearl Street NW next to Rosa Parks Circle – with a night of free entertainment, hot chocolate and the Consumers Energy Ball drop at midnight.

Saugatuck-area electro-acoustic, alternative funk-pop artist Nate Holley will open the evening entertainment on Monday, followed by Grand Rapids’ own rock/pop band The Outer Vibe, who won a WHTS-FM local band contest.

Originally, California hip-hop act New Boyz was scheduled to perform, but the group has now been replaced by Muskegon native Sylvia Yacoub, a singer-songwriter and a Top 10 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.” Mexican-American rapper Baby Bash also will perform, with DJs Curtis Avison and Justin Kung spining tunes once again as they did last year.

West Michigan’s Sylvia Yacoub, who made a splash on NBC’s “The Voice,” will replace New Boyz on New Year’s Eve.

With an estimated 30,000 people attending 2011’s event, Cumulus Media is sticking with a similar format for this year’s affair.

“The approach is the same from year to year – to provide a fun and exciting evening of music and entertainment that people of all ages will enjoy,” said Marcus Bradman, director of marketing and promotions for Cumulus Media Grand Rapids, adding that Cumulus considers “a lot of different variables” in assessing the musical genres represented at the party and the available budget.

Here’s the full schedule (updated Dec. 27):

6:20 p.m. – Cumulus Welcome 6:30 p.m. – Nate Holley (one-man, one-guitar looping musical magician) 7:15 p.m. – The Outer Vibe (rock/pop) 8:45 p.m. – Baby Bash (hip-hop) 9:45 p.m. – DJ Music 10:55 p.m. – Sylvia Yacoub (R&B/pop) 11:15 p.m. – Jesse McCartney (pop) 11:57 p.m. – Ball Drop

The 25-year-old McCartney, an actor, singer, former soap opera star and ex-member of the boy band Dream Street, has released three solo albums on Hollywood Records and has an upcoming release, “Have It All,” listed on his website as “coming soon.” His highest charting single, “Leavin’, ” topped Billboard’s pop chart in 2008.

Grand Rapids’ ever-popular The Outer Vibe, meanwhile, has boosted its profile in 2012, releasing a new album, “Hoka Hey,” and touring nationally.  The band will perform during the “Bud Light Happy Hour” to launch the New Year’s Eve bash.

The Outer Vibe will get the New Year’s Eve street party started early.

Band trumpet and keyboard player Lisa Kacos said members of The Outer Vibe consider it an honor to be invited to perform and “can’t wait to be part” of the year-end show. Consequently, the group may have some surprises in store for partygoers. “The Outer Vibe is always up to something,” she said, “and we do love having fun with our shows, so you never know what to expect with us.”

Sylvia Yacoub, a pop/R&B/soul singer, was born in Egypt and raised in Muskegon. You can watch a video of her below, playing the song, “Show the World,” the 2011 Senior Song that she wrote for the senior class of Mona Shores High School.

Baby Bash

The Houston-based Baby Bash, aka Ronnie Ray Bryant, meanwhile, has seven studio albums under his belt.

The family-oriented New Year’s Eve party will once again feature warming tents where hot chocolate will be available, and fans can take close-up photos of the stars on stage that night by picking up a free wristband at any J&H Family Store.

Also, for the first time, local television station WKTV (Wyoming-Kentwood Community Television) will partner with Cumulus to televise the downtown concert. Viewers with Comcast and AT&T U-Verse television service can view the live concert from 10:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. on LiveWire – Channel 24 on Comcast, Channel 99 on U-Verse.

The New Year’s Eve event is sponsored by Bud Light, Fifth Third Bank, Consumers Energy, Western Michigan University, Spartan Stores, J&H Family Stores, Westmaas Electric and Corporate Sound. More details available online at

The party wraps up a hectic month of holiday-styled entertainment in West Michigan. For a full list of shows, check out my “December Dozen” list at

Best Cities For Raising A Family

No. 1 Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rankings (of 100 largest metros): Median Income: 65 Cost of Living Index: 6 Housing Affordability: 7 Commuting: 22 Pct. Owning Homes: 5 (75%) Crime: 27 Education: 35   President Gerald Ford’s hometown is home to several furniture makers. The public school system is supplemented by several charter schools.  Also, the downtown scene is booming with an array of restaurants, entertainment venues, festivals including one of the largest Art Festivals, Artprize bringing hundreds of thousands of people into downtown Grand Rapids every fall.

Are you looking to relocate to Grand Rapids?  Look no further than Grand Rapids’ Own Urban Lifestyle Specialist!  Please click on the links below for housing/condo information and whats going on downtown!

Housing/Condo Information:  Click Here

Grand Rapids Things to do:  Click Here

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