Neighbors Development Helps Local Business Expand Again in 2019!

Rivertown Woodcraft has come a long way since it was started in Jim Torrey's garage. In 2018 Rivertown Woodcraft joined forces with Neighbors Development and moved its operation into our commercial space located at 2456 Plainfield Ave NE. With an emphasis on community, business owner Torrey hosts small intimate workshop classes, builds custom furniture, and runs a full-service woodshop.

Torrey recently approached us with a problem and we were happy to help him find a solution! The problem was simple: not enough space.

Rivertown Woodcraft can't keep up with the needs of the community they've worked so hard to service. Torrey's 1000 SqFt shop just simply can't fit all of the projects.

Neighbors Development takes pride in the growth of our tenants and our neighbors. We encourage open dialog and strive to find solutions. Our brokerage team worked with Torrey to find a bigger workspace for Rivertown Woodcraft to call home.

Rivertown Woodcraft is moving! The new space will include larger workshop class sizes and membership opportunities!

Step By Step DIY Paper Bag Floors

After researching options for a cost effective, environment friendly, and attractive flooring we decided to move forward with a DIY flooring using paper bags. Over the course of our 4,000 square foot commercial building remodel we have been collecting brown paper bags from grocery stores, friends, neighbors, and recycling centers. With the subfloor complete in the first 1,000 square feet suite, we were ready to start the process! I want to reiterate that having a proper subfloor & a clean starting surface are vital to your success!

Materials: Paper Bags, Water, Elmers Glue All, an inexpensive paint brush, a paint bucket, a paint stirrer, stain (optional), t-shirt material, polyurethane or epoxy & a polyurethane applicator.



Step 1. We took our collection of paper bags and ripped them into various size pieces. We removed handles, creases, etc. then crinkled them up; this allowed them to have different creases and wrinkles that provided an extra element of hoopla!

Step 2. After having collected a good amount of crumpled pieces we purchased 3 gallons of Elmers Glue All. We found this product at Lowe's but it can also be purchased at most craft stores or online. There are multiple sources for DIY paper floors and contradictions as to the ratio of water to glue. We found that three parts water to one part glue was the most ideal. 50/50 was a little too thick. Overall, I used my best judgement to find a consistency that worked best!


Step 3. With a paint brush we applied the glue mixture to the subfloor starting along one corner of the room & giving us the ability to work our way out. We used bags along the wall that had straight edges, whereas, through the rest of the room we tried to avoid edges. We also made sure that any bag logos or writing was facing downward and not visible to the eye. In the paint bucket, roller pan, or whatever you are using to store your glue in, we dipped the entire piece of paper leaving it saturated in the mixture and ready to adhere to the floor. We laid each piece and flattened it out making sure there were no bubbles or creases.

Our space was approximately 1,000 square feet so we repeated this process a zillion times over the course of several days. What we found was that each day when we returned to check our work the bags looked better and better; but they definitely looked unfinished and there were occasional spots that would need further maintenance.

Step 4. We examined the floor for raised edges, small bumps, or general “ugly” areas. In these spots we ripped out the bad bag and replaced it simply by adding a new bag right over top. For example, around your vents or walls you may not have applied enough glue and the piece may not be laying flat. If you rip that out and replace it, please allow 24 additional hours of dry time and you are good to go!

Step 5. This is an entirely optional step. If you like the look of brown then you can skip this step, add a polyurethane and call it a day. If you are going for a different color then find a wood stain that fits your desired goal and paint it right overtop. We purchased a Minwax wood finish in Dark Walnut. We used old t-shirts and materials to apply and quickly wipe the stain away.


Once Dry the floors looked copper!

Step 6. Polyurethane. The final step includes several layers of sealing. For our 1,000 square foot space we applied five coats. We purchased five 3-galloon buckets of polyurethane at Lowe's along with a long sticked applicator to apply. It is important to stir the contents of the 3-galloon bucket thuroughly, eliminating bubbles that could possibly show through when rolled onto the floor. Between each layer we allowed at least five hours of dry time. Once the final coating was applied we allowed a 24 hour period before walking on the newly completed floors.


Step 7. We put up new trim around the bottom of the walls to cover up any stain that may have made its way up the wall ever so slightly. Trim give the room an overall look of completion. What do you think?

The Impact of Plastic Grocery Bags

This is a topic that every middle school teacher addresses with their students every year. Grocery Bags. Some states have even implemented a tax on plastic bags provided by the grocery store. Since 2007, over 200 municipalities have implemented laws banning or taxing single use plastic bags with one goal in mind: to reduce the extensive use of single carrier bags.  


Michigan has yet to implement such laws. Those of us who are proactive, know that paper bags and reusable bags are a much friendlier alternative to plastics that are not biodegradable. 

So what happens to those bags you bring home after you unload your groceries? Nothing. Many people take pride in their reuse value. For example, they can be used as trash liners or used to pick up dog poop. Have you ever thought about how silly it is to use bags that cannot naturally decompose to store poop? 

Occasionally, my family and I will hike through our beautiful natural habitats and come across a plastic bag filled with poop sitting along the trail. The logic is that the dog owner will pick it up on their way out of the park and dispose of it. Regardless, this bag will end up in a landfill or remain on the trail for 1,000 years. 


So what is a better alternative? The best option would be to eliminate the unnecessary bag altogether. Stores like Aldi and Costco don't even offer bags and still somehow remain in business. Pet stores, provide shovel like apparatuses called pooper scoopers that allow you to pick up the waste without touching it and carry it to a garbage bin where it will be removed and decompose naturally. The natural decomposition process will take less than a year.  

When a bag is absolutely necessary, there are biodegradable options that can be used as substitutions. These options typically decompose within six months time and allow the waste inside to begin a natural decomposition process quickly. 


Most middle schoolers come to the conclusion that the best option is a reusable bag that can be brought back and forth to the grocery store, stored, and then reused time and time again. 


I am certainly guilty of forgetting to bring a reusable bag with me on shopping trips. If I use the provided plastic bags, I never attempt to throw them in the trash or in the recycling bin. Neither bin will collect them and they will not ever be recycled into new materials. The best option is to collect these bags separately and drop them off at a designated collection facility. Most grocers have collection bins in the store entryway. 

Another often overlooked option is the paper grocery bag. Most stores keep these by the register and will bag your groceries in paper if you ask.  Not only does paper biodegrade more quickly than plastic but you actually use less. The bagger will fill a paper bag to the top as opposed to their plastics that they bag specifically with certain items only. You might come home with two items per bag if using plastic, whereas, with a paper bag there is closer to ten items inside.  The process of recycling is easier as your home bin will accept paper items & the reuse value is substantially greater.  

As Neighbors Development begins our journey toward eliminating waste and reusing recycled materials, we've also began the renovations on our new office location. While building out this space we have set a goal to reuse as many materials as we can. We've been collecting paper bags and intend to create a paper mache style flooring. Stay tuned for the outcome! 

paperbag floor.JPG

Office Floors made of Recycled Materials! 

Don't Get Trapped: 3 Lies About Real Estate

When people find out that I sell real estate, they want to talk to me about it. Fortunately, real estate is my favorite topic to discuss. I love real estate.  But, there are so many misconceptions about real estate.  I feel that being able to recognize these lies and avoid getting caught in their trap, is the first key to successful real estate investing. 

1. Your Home is Your Biggest Asset.

"Your home is your biggest asset," is the most believed and dangerous lie regarding real estate. When challenged about this false cliché, many people become offended or go straight to denial. I assure you, your home is actually your biggest liability.  My point is simple. Does your home put money in your pocket or take it out? First, lets count all the ways your home takes money out. 


  1. Property Tax.
  2. Insurance.
  3. Utilities.  
  4. Maintenance.
  5. Debt Service (Mortgage Payments).
  6. Condo or HOA Fees.

Now let's count the ways it puts money into your pocket.


  1. Rent? (Only if you are renting a portion of it out)
  2. Sale? (But then you don't own it any more) 
  3. My home gained artificial intelligence and got job with a nice salary!

You see? Unless number three happens, your home is a giant liability. The good news is that recognizing your home as a liability allows you to take action. You can turn your home, or a portion of it, into a short term rental ( or long term income property putting money in your pocket. You could go a step further and make your tenants pay some or all of expenses 1-6 listed above, reducing your liability. I suggest before you buy your dream home, buy assets, like income properties, that cancel out your giant liability of a home on the balance sheet.

2.  Debt is Bad.

While getting over leveraged can be dangerous, not all debt is bad debt. Many people want to pay off their loans so they don't have to pay interest. I am always puzzled when someone tells me they don't want to invest their money at a 10% return until they completely pay back the money they are borrowing at 3% interest. At the risk of getting too technical, lets walk through an example. 

Cindy has $10,000 she wants to invest. She can buy stock that is paying out dividends at $1,000/year or 10% annually. Or she can borrow $40,000 from the bank, at 5% interest to be paid back in equal monthly payments over 20 years, to buy a $50,000 income property that profits $5,000/year or 10% annually.

Both investments return 10% of purchase price annually so which is the better investment? The answer lies within the power of good debt. Cindy's Annual Debt Service or annual mortgage payment is a little less than $3,170. This means that Cindy would make $1,830 a year after paying the bank.  An income of $1,830 dollars annually would improve her return from 10% to 18.3% annually on money invested (remember Cindy only invested $10,000 of her own money in the property)

Now lets say in 20 years neither the stock or the property go up or down in price, when Cindy decides to sell. The stock would sell for $10,000, returning all of the money Cindy invested.  The income property would sell for $50,000 returning an extra $40,000 dollars more than Cindy invested with out going up in price.

This example shows how taking on good debt can allow you to enhance return on investment and build equity in more expensive assets.

3. You Need to be Rich to Invest in Real Estate.

I think a lot of the people who are currently investing in real estate may be the ones propagating this rumor. After all, who wants more competition? The reality is you just need to know where to look to get capital.  If you only have $1,000 and you want to buy real estate then my advice is simple. Find a good deal; then find, partners, grants, or banks to finance the deal. 

The first property I bought was a duplex for less than $15,000. I had partners. We pooled our money, bought the duplex, used grants to fix it up, and then rented it out. We reinvested our profits into more real estate. Just remember you have to start some where.

If you want to learn more about getting started in real estate investment the team at Neighbors Development wants to help. Give us a call or Email us.

Look out for my next article "That Vacant Strip Mall is a Cash Cow!"


President & Broker | Neighbors Development

Hello Neighbors!

Dear West Michigan,

I am writing you to introduce ourselves. On January 15th of 2015, Kara, David, and I started Neighbors Development with the understanding that better real estate makes better communities.  Although none of us can agree which of West Michigan's many great breweries is best, we all agree that the local community is important and we want to be a part of shaping West Michigan's future.  

We have been investing in real estate through out West Michigan since 2011 and now we want to help our community do the same. Kara has many years of both dental practice management experience and property management experience; she provides Neighbors' clients the highest level of professional management services. David is an architect and real estate investor, he has architectural experience, in medical, retail, and restaurants. As an architect and investor David offers important design and development experience to the community. And I am a real estate broker and investor who specializes in commercial and investment real estate. I provide our clients and investors brokerage services and investment advice.

We are exited to work with you.  We hope to grab a coffee and get to know you soon. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about our company or investment real estate. Follow our news feed; we will be posting development news and real estate advice on a regular basis.

Take care,

Coleman Baar

President & Broker | Neighbors Development