Belknap Lookout gets a great new look.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Belknap Lookout has long been the Cinderella of Grand Rapids neighborhoods – waiting to shed its ash bucket image and become the belle of the ball as the neighborhood of choice for medical professionals working across the freeway on the Medical Mile.

Despite its lofty locale overlooking downtown and history as one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Belknap Lookout has struggled to overcome its image as an enclave of working class rental houses.

But with several new housing projects on the drawing boards and Grand Valley State University spending millions to buy up old houses for future development, Belknap Lookout’s enchanted future may soon be here.

One early arrival to the ball is this two-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot apartment at 548 Fairview Ave. NE.

Located on the third floor of a new three-unit brownstone being built by Artesian Group, this apartment rents for $2,200 a month – more than twice the rate charged for most apartments in the neighborhood.

Artesian Group founder Angel Gonzalez said the lower two units have sold for close to $300,000 while this unit was purchased for $260,000 by a Colorado investor.

Gonzalez said he’s planning to start construction on a third brownstone this spring, adding that two have already been pre-sold. The three-story building he is completing next door also has been sold, he said.

The new brownstones feature high-end finishes and surfaces similar to those found in other condominiums and apartments being built in the downtown area.

This unit features hand-scraped hickory floors in the living room and kitchen area. The cathedral ceiling features skylights and a walkout balcony affords views of the downtown area and sunsets.

The living area features a cast-stone mantel over a gas fireplace. The kitchen island features 42-inch maple cabinets and polished granite counter-tops on the island and kitchen counters. The appliances are stainless steel.

The master bedroom includes an ensuite bathroom with heated porcelain tile flooring, granite countertops, a bath tub and separate walk-in shower. The master suite also includes a walk-in closet and a doorway leading to the back deck.

A guest bathroom next to the living area also is finished with porcelain tile flooring and granite countertops and a bath tub and shower.

The utilities are high-tech, including wall outlets with built-in USB plugs, a tankless water heater and a forced air heating and cooling system. The unit also includes a laundry and a separate door that leads to the back deck for entertainment.

The back deck also includes an outdoor stairway that leads to a fenced-in backyard and garage, where one stall has been assigned to the unit. The garage includes storage space in the trusses above the parking space.

Although the new brownstones were designed with Medical Mile professionals in mind, Gonzalez said their buyers have been young professionals who work downtown or empty nesters moving in from the suburbs.

“It’s not the dynamic you would think,” he said.

Written by Jim Harger. Jim covers business for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at or follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google+.