Steel For DeVos Place Ready To Go Up

March 25, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — When Erhardt-Hunt Construction Manager Matt Barnes recently told the Convention and Arena Authority (CAA) that the former Hall of Justice was now rubble and dust, Mayor John Logie applauded.

Logie, newly named chairman of that board, is a partner at Warner, Norcross & Judd and has spent much of his legal career in the building that housed most of the county and city courts. At best, the structure was considered inadequate. At worst, it was called a pit.

“It is in a pile of rubble now,” said Barnes.

The building was razed to make room for DeVos Place, a $219.5 million expansion of the convention center. Barnes said that the project was on schedule, that the new lobby should be finished in April, and that much of the concrete and steel would be poured and planted this year. The plan is to have the new center enclosed by this time next year.

Barnes also told board members that 60 percent of the construction budget has gone to bid, with $10 million worth of subcontracts being awarded to minority-owned firms. He said that amount works out to 15 percent of bids where minority firms were able to do the work, and 12 percent of all bids.

Larry Erhardt, chairman of Erhardt Construction and partner with the Hunt Group as the project’s general contractor, said the work crews were getting along fine.

“Everyone is really pulling together on this,” he said, “and that is not always the case.”

In a related matter, CAA members approved the rental rates for DeVos Hall, Welsh Auditorium and meeting rooms at the Grand Center and DeVos Place. The rates will be frozen for three years, starting July 1 of this year through June 30, 2005. A modest increase is planned in four years.

SMG General Manager Rich MacKeigan suggested that the rates should remain frozen through the construction period and the first full year that the new building is open to help with bookings. He said the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which books the center, agreed with that strategy.

“That is not to say that those rates cannot be changed at some time,” said MacKeigan, who noted that the board will review the rates annually and that these are subject to change.

For ticketed performances at DeVos Hall, the rental rate will be $2,100 per night on Sunday through Thursday and $2,600 per night for Friday and Saturday, or 12 percent of the gross — whichever is higher. The rate applies to both for-profit and nonprofit groups.

But nonprofits will get a second performance for half-price. Sunday through Thursday evenings, the rate will be $1,050. For Friday or Saturday performances, it’s $1,300.

The rate to rent Welsh Auditorium, while it’s still standing, will be $2,725 or 12 percent of the gross. To rent the entire Grand Hall, it will cost $1,950 per day. Banquets at the Welsh and Grand Hall will be charged at $1,525.           

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