Jonna Luxury Homes breaks ground on The Forefront in Birmingham.
By Jackie Headapohl
For the first time in nearly seven years, construction is under way on Old Woodward in downtown Birmingham. Joey Jonna, founder of Jonna Luxury Homes in Birmingham, is building a new three-story, 49,000-square-foot mixed use development called The Forefront, which will feature first-floor high-end retail space and 10 luxury condominiums and four penthouse residences on the second and third floors. He broke ground on the project in July.
The site is where the now-demolished Greens Art Supply building once stood at 400 S. Old Woodward Ave., two blocks south of Brown Street in the Principal Shopping District of Birmingham, which boasts more than 30 restaurants and 20 fashion retail shops.
“We were confident that there was pent-up demand for luxury living downtown and the market in Birmingham was ready,” said Jonna, 35, a Michigan State University graduate who grew up in the building industry with his Uncle Jimmy, who founded Jonna Construction Company, which focused on commercial construction and real estate in the 1960s. His father, Frank, is the CEO of that company.
Jonna lives in Bloomfield Hills with his wife, Tammy, and three sons, 6-year-old twins Tyler and Ethan, and 4-year-old Derek, whose teams he coaches in baseball, football and basketball. He’s a board member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and is involved in Angel’s Place in Southfield, an organization that provides services and support for adults with developmental disabilities, including his brother.
The majority of the 7,600 square feet of retail space on the first floor of The Forefront has already been sold, Jonna said. In addition to high-end retail, there will also be professional services, he said, “but no restaurants.”
Jonna, whose degree is in urban and regional planning, has been working in residential real estate for the last four years. He currently has 13 properties in development, all within a 4-5 mile range in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills. “I love working here,” he said. “The Birmingham Planning Department is great to work with. They’ve been very supportive of The Forefront project.”
Condominiums in The Forefront range from 2,500-4,700 square feet and are “completely customizable,” Jonna said. The condominiums feature floor-to-ceiling windows with fantastic downtown views, exceptional finishes, custom cabinetry, fireplaces, luxurious master suites, commercial-style kitchen appliances, private balconies and terraces, among other amenities.
Jonna said his targeted customer is an “empty-nester who loves city living but may want to spend the winters in Florida.” To target that buyer, the condominiums at The Forefront will feature the “latest and greatest in technology,” such as facial recognition entry points, fully integrated controls, Wi-Fi and remote lighting controls.
“We show people how to use the technology, too,” Jonna said. “For example, if the cleaning person rings the doorbell in Birmingham in February, they could let them in from a beach in Florida using their phone.”
Several of the units at The Forefront have already been sold, as well as a penthouse. The buyers, a successful couple who own their own business, are in their late 50s. Their children are grown and live out of state. They recently sold their very upscale home in the suburbs when they learned about The Forefront.
Living in downtown Birmingham really appealed to them.
“It feels as if you are living in an upscale urban setting such as Fifth Avenue in New York. You’re able to walk to dinner or the theater or shop at local high-end retail shops,” said the husband.
“I bought in early because I wanted to secure one of the four penthouse units and realized that once construction is completed, the units will move quickly,” he said. “I had such confidence in Joey and his execution that I took the risk of buying without seeing actual construction.”
Jonna Luxury Homes works with a team of designers to ensure clients get exactly what they want.
“We know we are building their dream home and aim for 100 percent satisfaction,” Jonna said. “Many of our clients end up becoming our friends.”
Jonna has several new residential construction projects within Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills in the pipeline.
“Our homes are architecturally designed and tailored to fit — as if they were meant to be where they are,” said Jonna, who adds “the housing market is flourishing again — it’s very healthy and a great time to buy.”
Jonna expects the first of The Forefront residents to move in by the end of July 2016. The penthouse buyer said he looks forward to moving in, where he’ll be able to “retire comfortably and just close the door when my wife and I travel with no concerns of security or property upkeep.” NS
For more information, visit jonnaluxuryhomes.com or
call (248) 566-6700.