Foundry Making Room For Towers

March 5, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The third and final building came tumbling down last week, as the former Grand Rapids Foundry was demolished to make room for a $50 million, twin tower apartment complex to be built by Union Foundry LLC.

Tracey Walker of Moch International, an investment partner in Union Foundry, said it would be at least another week before the foundry site was cleared. Walker added that a groundbreaking ceremony for the project would take place in a few months.

“They are still trying to finalize some things. It still is on for late spring or summer. We just don’t know the date, yet,” said Walker.

Union Foundry plans to put up two 22-story towers on 1.25 acres of land at Bond and Trowbridge NW in the North Monroe Business District. The buildings have been designed by Chicago architect Solomon Cordwell Buenz and Associates, which has drawn up other residential towers such as the Residences at Chicago Place and The Chicagoan Apartments.

The Bond towers will offer a total of 398 apartments across 450,000 square feet of living space. One will be built on the northwest corner of the intersection, with the other going up on the other side of Trowbridge on the southeast corner.

The development also calls for a stand-alone restaurant on the northeast corner, along with 11,000 square feet of retail space for the ground floors of both towers. The project also plans to have parking for nearly 650 cars.

Union Foundry hasn’t selected a construction manager for the project yet. But the firm is reviewing bids from both unionized and non-union contractors.

The Habitat Co. of Chicago, however, has been named to manage the property.

“We’re not just constructing a couple of buildings, we’re creating a community and developing the foundation for future growth in downtown Grand Rapids,” said Joseph A. Moch, of Moch International.

“Currently, there are few options for people who choose to live downtown. This development will make downtown living more viable for a variety of lifestyles,” he added.

It took about two weeks to raze the foundry and Walker compared the work to having some “delicate surgery” done. The building was on a tight footprint, close to both streets — which remained opened during the razing — and to two renovated buildings.

“It was delicate surgery with the north side of the building up against the Brass Works Building. That was interesting,” said Walker.

City commissioners overturned a Planning Commission decision in November and gave Union Foundry the variances it needed to go ahead with the project. The most important of those was a height variance, as the towers exceed the height limit for downtown structures by 55 feet. That variance allowed Union Foundry to build another 130 apartments into the project and made the development more economically feasible.

In July, commissioners rezoned the properties, which are in the city’s Renaissance Zone.    

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