Develop // Build

Monica’s Manor

We love old buildings, but some don’t age gracefully. Sometimes, to create something exceptional, you have to start fresh.

As we were wrapping up the final touches on Hancock Restaurant, the owner made mention of a property he had on Henry street behind his other restaurants. 

He said it was run a down house with an adjacent vacant lot. They had inquired about redevelopment possibilities with the city of grand rapids and weren’t optimistic about their options.  They were considering selling the property and cutting their losses. 

At this point we had developed a strong relationship with these clients, so we offered to support them in whatever way we could. 

After an initial meeting, it came to our attention that the project and ideas for redeveloping the site were being guided down a very unrealistic route. This was no fault of theirs; they are restaurateurs, not real estate developers and had simply not received the proper guidance. 

We made some suggestions that seemed to resonate with their intentions and had a professional services agreement in place a week later. 

We were hitting the reset button.

Going back to the beginning of the process

to figure out what was feasible. 

The First Step

The first step – evaluate the condition of the existing house. We. Were. Stunned.
We’ve seen our fair share of old buildings and ones in bad shape to boot, but nothing quite like this.


This structure had endured multiple fires, decades of neglect, poor site conditions and in general – a great deal of bad fortune. We were amazed it was still standing and were certain that there was no safe way to salvage it.

The Second Step

The second step – presenting our case to HPC (historic preservation commission).

Getting approval to demolish a structure in a designated historic district is challenging and requires presentation at a public hearing and approval by the historic preservation commission.

It took three structural engineers, multiple subcontractors and a shoring specialist – on top of my team’s expertise, to compile the 70 page report that was presented to the commission in January of 2019.

After a lengthy and impassioned hearing process – the commission reluctantly approved our request to demolish the structure.

The Third Step

Step three – plan, collaborate, create. After months of work, we officially had a clean slate. Our team and amazing partners set out to develop a plan for what would come next.

We are determined to add structures to this neighborhood that would be truly significant to its historic character and aligned with the lively nature of the business that thrive there.

The creative process was just beginning … here’s where it led us.