First Annual Golf Outing Benefitting Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan

Last Friday, we were proud to sponsor our first annual charity golf outing, benefitting Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. It was a beautiful day, and we were thrilled to see so many of our vendors and extended Tribe come out to show their support and – importantly – to have a little fun.

To everyone who made it to the outing, a huge thanks. As with every other aspect of what we do, it wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiasm and collaboration of our community.

This year, we raised a total of $2,016 for the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. Next year, we hope for even more!

Why Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan?

Quite simply, this is a condition which is close to our hearts here at 616. Jeff Hennip, our Facilities Director, experiences the impact of epilepsy each day as he raises his three year old daughter, Caedyn. A source of joy to her parents, Caedyn has had an epilepsy condition since infancy, and her parents have experienced the challenges and – at times – stigma of epilepsy firsthand.

Epilepsy, which is properly known as a “seizure disorder”, is a medical condition which essentially produces an electrical storm in the brain. Epileptic seizures don’t all look the same; they can look as innocuous as someone staring off into space for a few seconds – which can also make them difficult to detect, diagnose and treat.


Over 100,000 people in Michigan are known to struggle with epilepsy. One out of every 100 people has epilepsy, although you would never know it by looking at them. Roughly 70% of people who have epilepsy will never know what causes epileptic episodes, although thankfully, these seizures can often be treated and managed through medication and, in some cases, surgery. Some people simply “grow out of” epilepsy; for others, it is a condition which must be managed throughout their lives.

By and large, people with this neurological disorder look, walk and talk just like the rest of us. Yet even in today’s more informed society, epilepsy still carries a negative stigma in many circles.

Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, a state chapter of the national Epilepsy Foundation, works a twofold approach to “make the world a better place for those with epilepsy”. First, the Foundation serves those with the condition by providing resources, training, management tools and networking with care providers. Second, the Foundation provides advocacy and awareness, whether that means advocating for a teenage girl’s right to attend a public school and equipping school staff with the training and tools they need to accommodate her condition, or dispelling common myths and stigma through public awareness campaigns.

Why give back?

Call it the Universal Law of Opposites; call it karma; call it good stewardship. However you choose to phrase it, we can all recognize the importance of putting positive contributions back in to the community from which we benefit every day.

After all, we couldn’t do what we do if it weren’t for the goodwill and contributions of others. Working to make the world a better place for the people who live in our community is a responsibility we take seriously.

Stay tuned for next year’s outing!

Yes, there WILL be another outing next year! We will keep you posted. If you haven’t already, sign up for our Development email newsletter to stay in the loop. Just head to our homepage and look for the signup fields at the bottom left.

TEDxGrandRapids 2013: 616’s banner first year


8722795233_08522d0ee8_bThe 616 Tribe was well represented at this year’s TEDx Grand Rapids event. Caitlin Kennon, our Community Manager, and Marjorie Steele, our Digital Creative (or whatever she feels like being called on any given day) were in attendance, as was the Kendall Building.

Yes, you heard us right: the Kendall Building took part in TEDx Grand Rapids 2013 as a breakout venue in between morning sessions. With the event being held in the Civic Theater – the other side of the block on which the Kendall Building sits – its locale was perfect, so we pushed through the red tape and logistics of having people mill through a site undergoing construction and agreed to make the Kendall a breakout venue.

TEDx-goers were encouraged to roam through the Kendall’s “play” stations, and to write letters to their future selves as reminders of goals and aspirations.

There was something delightfully metatextual – or maybe post post modern – about playing with ideas and writing to our future selves in a historic space which is, itself, undergoing a dramatic transformation and will, in the near future, look nothing like its current self.

[flagallery gid=15 name=Gallery]

So thank you, TEDx Grand Rapids, for allowing us to participate, in more ways than one.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank all the speakers as well, not only for their presentations but also for the important work they are doing in their fields.

While all the presentations were amazing and aptly challenging, I have to admit I did have a few favorites. Fred Keller of Cascade Engineering rose to the top of my list, and his message regarding sustainable business development and entrepreneurship couldn’t have been better timed or targeted.

My all time favorite, I have to admit, was Eric Daigh’s presentation on self-portraiture. But when it comes to art, showing is better than telling.

CIW: Identity: Eric Daigh from Chicago Ideas Week on Vimeo.

Highlights from Monday’s VIP Grand Opening of 1 Ionia: people make your life.


Jim Harger, a reporter from Mlive, asked Derek Coppess an interesting question last week during a walkthrough of the new residential and commercial spaces over at 1 Ionia.

“So, if all your units are leased up already, what’s the purpose of having an open house next week?”

Mr. Harger was, of course, referring to the VIP Grand Opening of 1 Ionia which was held by us – 616 Development – in partnership with the Grand Rapids Brewing Company, this last Monday, December 10th.

Derek answered without hesitation that the event was an opportunity for 616 to thank the investors, business partners, city planners and community members who made the 1 & 7 Ionia project possible. The question stuck in my mind, however, and I can’t help but think it represents something with much larger implications.

Why WOULD a development firm and its sister property management company, with all residential units in a new project filled, spend the time, money and effort to celebrate the project with the local community? It’s not about marketing residential units.

The event was about, in a word: community.

When 616 Development was first putting together its branding collateral, there was one phrase which kept coming up in our copy again and again:

“At 616, we believe in people. Our people, your people and you.”

Our copy and messaging may have evolved and grown since then – as has our company and brand – but that core philosophy hasn’t changed at all. People remain the most important aspect of our business, from nurturing the people who belong to our own 616 Tribe; to connecting our 616 Lofts residents to a great urban living experience; to showing our appreciation to all the business partners and city officials who have made it possible for our projects to have forward motion.

As Derek loves to quip, “people make your life.”

So, once again to all our residents, partners, Tribe members and local supporters – thank you! We’re thrilled to be a part of urban Grand Rapids’ revitalization.

Derek Coppess gives a warm welcome to Bruce Poppin, former owner of 7 Ionia (the Gunn Company Building), and Queen Judy.

Wayfinding signs led guests through a tour of three residential lofts on the fourth floor.

Read the full Ionia development story here.

Monica Clark, Director of Community Development and Kailyn Dykhouse, our Leasing Agent, finalize details in the lobby before guests arrive. The eye-catching LED display was donated by local audio visual partner LiveSpace. Thanks, LiveSpace!

Derek Coppess and Tony, Grand Rapids Brewing Company’s Bar Manager. Great job, Tony!

Guests find their name tags in the lobby. We estimated a final headcount at about 400. What a show of support!

Guests mingle and read about the project’s development in one of 616 Lofts on Ionia’s true loft-style units.

People gather in the last stop of the tour, in another loft-style apartment.

Another view of the tour’s showcase unit.

Derek Coppess and his girlfriend Mandy chat with Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority, Kris Larson.

Derek Coppess’ friends lend their support.

Guests write encouraging notes on a framed picture of the redeveloped 1 Ionia.

Derek Coppess greets Sam Cummings, Managing Partner at CWD Real Estate Investment.

616 friends and partners enjoy drinks and appetizers on the ground floor, at the Grand Rapids Brewing Company.

Why Urban Centers Matter (people make your life, a manifesto by Derek J. Coppess)


Last Wednesday, our Tribal Leader Derek J. Coppess had the opportunity to join the crowd of veteran developers in speaking at the University of Michigan & Urban Land Institute’s 26th Annual Real Estate Forum in Grand Rapids.

Derek’s topic: Why Urban Centers Matter: people make your life.

A mini manifesto on creating urban suction through community, creativity and by answering “why”. Derek shares his early experiences with development and investment and founding 616 Lofts & 616 Development during economic recession.

Thanks to all the other presenters and attendees. It’s a pleasure to work in a city alongside so many innovative development projects!




View the Prezi slides: