A very ritzy residential development is sprouting up in downtown Birmingham

A very ritzy residential development is sprouting up in downtown Birmingham.

The project is called The Forefront and the developer is Jonna Luxury Homes. It involves 7,700 square feet of first-floor retail and 10 condos on the second and third floors in a newly-constructed building at 400 S. Old Woodward.

As for pricing, it’s hard to find a comparison in Oakland County. Individual units are selling from $1.7 million to $3.8 million and range in size from 2,500 to 5,200 square feet.

“They’re basically going to be like $2 million luxury homes with a few basic common spaces,” company president Joey Jonna said. “You don’t have any kind of cookie-cutter element … they can be customized to the way people want to live.”

The building is located at the southwest corner of Old Woodward and Daines Street, where Greens Art Supply once stood. Jonna said demolishing the old building on the site and going with new construction allows his company to install a number of high-end features, including:

• Floor-to-ceiling windows facing the downtown.

• Generous allowances for the individual condo owners to customize each room in terms of cabinetry, fireplaces, appliances, trim and tile and other finishing touches.

• Sound-proofed walls and flooring systems.

• Facial recognition entry points at Daines and Old Woodward, along with secure private parking.

• Private elevator, vestibule and balconies.

• State-of-the-art technology featuring Control4 Integration systems.

Exploding market

Whether it’s a condo project or commercial property, the real estate market in downtown Birmingham continues to explode.

On the commercial side, Sperry Van Ness announced in January the $7 million sale of a 26,000 square-foot parcel of land with two unoccupied buildings at the corner of Old Woodward and Brown Street. Purchased by Woodward Brown Ventures, the deal works out to about $11.6 million an acre.

As for The Forefront, Renee Lossia-Acho with Hall & Hunter Realtors has already sold three units and expects the other seven to go rather quickly.

“The price point is definitely on the higher side, but it’s a reflection of the amenities you’re going to have when this project is complete,” she said. “And you’re really in a sweet spot in the city when it comes to having everything at your doorstep.”

Acho said residents will appreciate the 10-foot high ceilings and generous balcony space that each unit offers. Another benefit is the dual access into the building from Old Woodward and Daines Street.

“I like everything about the location,” she said. “It gives you the ability to step right outside the building and enjoy downtown Birmingham.”

Jonna, whose family has been involved in the building industry for decades, realizes the project sets a new bar for pricing – even in a city like Birmingham where the market is are already extremely expensive.

“Our demographic is empty nesters – people who are leaving 12,000 square feet in Bloomfield Hills or somewhere else,” he said. “Many of our customers have another home, whether it’s New York or Florida. Unlike a house that eats while you sleep, these units can be shut down completely … you can leave for six months and have no concerns.”

The Forefront is one of several major projects going up in Birmingham. The Balmoral Building at Brown and Peabody already has tenants and is continuing to lease space, while the remodeled Woodward Building at Old Woodward and Maple is near completion.

Demolition just begun on Brookside Terrace, a mixed-used development next to the North Old Woodward parking structure. There’s also the Palladium Building at 202 N. Old Woodward that was recently purchased and remodeled by one of Jonna’s relatives, Jordan Jonna of the A.F. Jonna Development & Management Company.

“There’s a value here.” Jonna said about Birmingham. “This will always be a desirable place to live, good times or bad. People are going to spend a lot of money to live here.”

jgrossman@hometownlife.com | 586-826-7030 Twitter: @BhmEccentric

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