Who Rah Fighting The Big Green

November 11, 2002
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They just didn't see it coming. The little Monopoly game in the heart of downtown was a land-locked proposition, an unhurried project that, when unveiled, would provide community gratitude for so fine an answer to the 1,000-room question. (The Grand Action Committee and Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau have long indicated another 1,000 rooms would be needed in close proximity to the new DeVos Place to house convention guests.) RichDeVos recently purchased from PeterSecchia the Olds Manor next to the U.S. Post Office, right across Monroe from the new convention center (at which a convention center skywalk already is aimed). The backroom boys say plans for the Olds include not just a hotel, but a "mini" convention center.

Moving the U.S. Post Office has long been a consideration, until, of course, terrorism and anthrax further cursed USPS earnings and extended a moratorium on new facilities. Postal officials (publicly) say moving is out of the question (for all the reasons cited in the story by David Czurak on page 1), but high-ranking postal officials have privately told business leaders the move is necessary — and imminent.)

One very big consideration for postal officials (aside from parking) is the sheer size of property necessary for a new building. No problem, the Grand Rapids Business Journal was told. The property to accommodate the post office — near the airport — is owned by DeVos, or as was described, "Amway bought all that land out by the airport, originally because they had interest from General Motors to move a facility here. But that (GM) plant eventually went south."

Adding reason to move the P.O. is the crumbling ramp, built at about the same time the city built all the ramps now being replaced, repaired or torn down.

The backroom clean-up crew gossip about the "Amway" owned property, across Fulton Street from the Amway-rebuilt Plaza Towers. They note the plans announced almost two years ago and since scrapped (sort of), which might have added, by skywalk, another tower of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. They also say it's all part of a "stew" that initially involved what was considered a "done" deal with Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett moving out of Bridgewater, into the DanDeVos-proposed office tower at Pearl and Lyon, a partnership the business entity made (and then dropped) with Ellis Parking. But the new owner of the giant flashcube wasn't to be undone, literally paying Varnum partners stipends to stay (and providing that glitzy, golden name at the top of the glass cube). Readers may recall that developer RobertGrooters, who sold the cube, originally planned a second tower next to the first, to accommodate — a hotel. Plans that never reached fruition for some reason or another.

Meanwhile, the unsuspecting Blue Bridge partners led by Jack Buchanan walked into the mix this summer, with financing, an architect and plenty of moola already spent, only to become the subject of a state Senate "kill the deal" initiative as fall turns to winter.

  • They say money to stop the full-time mayor proposition "poured in" after opposition organized, and most every dime was used to block GRMAYOR's stated '02 goal. What made them smirk? GRMAYOR is said to have smelled the money attack, and held on to his donations in the final push days rather than fight the green fight, as opposition forces filed in from seemingly everywhere.

Will the mayor need that money for another ('03) campaign? Remember, he "traditionally" announces his political intentions sometime after Thanksgiving and before January's State of the City address. There are no term limits on mayors, especially part-time ones.

  • Trick or treat? For West Michigan's largest online retailer, Halloween was definitely sweet.

How sweet? Try $8 million.

Quixtar Inc. enjoyed a record sales day of more than $8 million on Oct. 31, just days after announcing its third consecutive year of sales growth. Further, while handling massive volume from Quixtar-powered Independent Business Owners (IBOs) and their clients on its record day, Quixtar's site experienced an outstanding 99.89 percent reliability rating.

"We're excited that IBOs powered by Quixtar are riding the momentum they generated with stellar third-year revenues by achieving new sales milestones," said KenMcDonald, Quixtar's managing director. "It was all treats and no tricks for Quixtar on Halloween. We're very optimistic about our readiness for the busy holiday shopping season and the year ahead."

Quixtar reported revenues of $901 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, plus an additional $57 million in revenues generated by IBOs for Quixtar's online Partner Stores, ranging from OfficeMax.com and KBtoys.com to CatalogCity.com and MCsports.com. For their efforts in fiscal 2002, IBOs earned more than $282 million in bonuses and incentives, according to Quixtar officials.

Since the company's launch in 1999, IBOs have generated $2.1 billion in sales for Quixtar plus nearly $200 million for Partner Stores, earning more than $655 million in bonuses and incentives.

No lumps of coal in their Halloween bags this year.

  • It's time for a little post-campaign bonding for JenniferGranholm and DickPosthumus. Before Granholm heads to her new digs in Lansing, it's been suggested that she spend a little time deer hunting on the Posthumus spread in Alto.

The state's top Democrat could learn what it's like to "be one of the guys" and partially shed that Harvard/Canadian elitist image that Posthumus attacked during the campaign.

Besides, both candidates in a tree blind with a 12-pack, loaded rifles and a pile of carrots in plain view is sure to lead to a better understanding of the political process as a whole.

  • Best line of the week comes from Detroit Red Wing KirkMaltby, who said he was going to try to vote in the gubernatorial election in Michigan even though he isn't registered to do so in the United States. His reasoning? How often does one get to vote for a Canadian for Michigan's governor, eh?           

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