Hotel Calder Plaza North Of 50 M

July 12, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Calder and the county administration building would stay. So would the parking garage under Calder Plaza. But City Hall would come down.

The 400-room hotel proposed for the site by Blue Bridge Ventures of Grand Rapids and Houston-based Hines Interests LP would rise 24 stories above the plaza at 300 Monroe NW.

The top floors would house suites that would jut out to overlook the new DeVos Place convention center and the Grand River. The structure would be built of glass, steel and limestone and the windows would be set in two different patterns.

The plaza level would have an arcade and a ballroom extended from the county building. A cast-metal bench partially would wrap itself around the Calder. The Monroe level would have a restaurant and bar, along with shops geared to tourists and convention-goers.

The hotel would have a junior ballroom, four meeting rooms and a pool with a view of the street. An enclosed pedestrian walkway could connect the hotel with the convention center across Monroe Avenue.

“I think we’ve made a relatively simple building,” said Los Angeles architect Richard Keating at a luncheon meeting with city commissioners last week.

Keating, a principal in the high-rise design firm Keating/Khang, said it was too early to put a price tag on the hotel proposed for Calder Plaza. But he nodded in agreement when Mayor John Logie asked if its cost was somewhere north of $50 million.

Keating has 34 years of experience as an architect and has designed more than 50 million square feet of built high-rise space. His partner, Bonnie Khang, joined him from HOK — the St. Louis firm that co-designed the county courthouse with Tower, Pinkster & Titus.

When Blue Bridge President Jack Buchanan was asked who would manage the hotel, he said it would be a national chain operator but declined to name which one. Keating said he used Marriott to model the design.

Buchanan said they have the financing and that Bank One was involved on the local end.

After hearing the developers’ 65-minute pitch, city commissioners said they would continue talking in good faith, and they told city staffers to work with the developers on crunching numbers that might make it worthwhile for the city to vacant the plaza.

The intent is to create a binding option on a buy-sell agreement that would benefit both the city and the developers. The option will have the financial details, including the costs to relocate the city and county. But some commissioners were skeptical that a deal could satisfy the financial needs of both parties.

“I think you have the interest of this commission and I think you have a creative design,” Logie said to Buchanan. “I think the next thing you should do is drop an option with all the details on our desk.”

Commissioners and developers are expected to talk again within a month.

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