Things Look Up On Front Street

August 29, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Mike Garrett, owner of Pinnacle Construction Group, says that between other jobs, his crews are pecking away at a project on the west bank of the Grand River.

What they’re doing is renovating an aged warehouse at 1000 Front St. NW for their company headquarters.

The site is about a block south of the Leonard Street bridge.

The firm has gutted a 9,100-square-foot structure that had been vacant for nearly a decade. Prior to that, the old Verhey Coach and Limousine Co. used it to warehouse caskets, even after getting out of the casket business.

Garrett said he hopes to move Pinnacle’s administrative offices into the century-old post-and-beam construction building by December.

He said Pinnacle also is taking over 4,000 square feet of a neighboring structure in which it will store equipment and have a wood shop for cabinetry assembly.

Garrett, a Kalamazoo native who founded Pinnacle six years ago, says the project — which he estimates as costing $500,000 — will consolidate his firm’s two widely separated suburban locations.

“And this new location is perfect for us,” he said.

“Our work is scattered all over the region,” Garrett added, “so this puts us right next to U.S. 131, a good central location. It’s a lot more convenient for our people to get out to jobs and to come here.”

He said the office will accommodate Pinnacle’s operations and marketing staff and will be able to accommodate a staff of up to 25 people.

He also told the Business Journal that the project will add some eye appeal to the river’s west waterfront, which has looked fairly dowdy for years.

“This is going to dress things up,” Garrett said.

“We’ve already torn out the old windows and made much larger openings so that, from across the river, it’s going to look mostly like glass.”

He said the floor plan is oriented at a 45-degree angle so that staffers inside the building will be looking southeast toward downtown. “They won’t find themselves looking straight across the river at the Consumers Energy substation,” he said.

The substation is located along the Monroe Avenue riverbank immediately south of the City of Grand Rapids Water Department offices.

The waterfront wall of Pinnacle’s new headquarters is a vertical extension of the waterfront seawall. Garrett said the renovation will give Pinnacle employees two special vantage points from which to enjoy the location.

He said his crews are deeply recessing two of the enlarged window openings to form internal porches.

He stressed that the porches are not for fishing — at least not during working hours, “unless, of course, I’m fishing. Then it will be okay.”

Garrett said the project also will give the building’s interior an unusual split-level appearance.

“The warehouse floor is four feet above ground level,” he said.

“So we’re cutting that down to form the reception area, and then we’ll have ramps going up to the office floor. It’s really going to look nice.”

He said he’s grateful to The Right Place Inc. for helping his firm obtain a brownfield designation for the project, thus easing the company’s tax burden for a time.  

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