New West Side Office Space Coming

April 2, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — There is a pretty good chance that more office space will become available soon on the city’s West Side.

Atkinson Enterprises LLC has its sights set on turning the top two levels of a three-story brick building at 730-736 Leonard St. NW into office suites.

The conversion would add roughly 12,500 square feet of space to the city’s office inventory and give tenants a few nice amenities like covered parking, a rooftop garden terrace and an onsite cafe.

Atkinson plans to pump $350,000 into the building, which will result in new and upgraded electrical systems, HVAC, plumbing, an elevator, and more windows for the top two floors.

The firm, headed by Ryan Atkinson, has a date with city commissioners next week for a public hearing on Atkinson’s request for an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District.

“It is very important,” Atkinson said.

“It allows me to maintain a conservative rental rate to offer to the tenants as incentives to come into the building and as incentives to stay, to sign longer-term leases.

“If the abatement doesn’t go through it’s not going to kill the project,” he added, “but it’s not going to really help the project.”

Getting the obsolete designation from the city would cut the property tax bill on the structure and land by a third for a dozen years.

The city estimated that the renovated building could generate up to $7,500 each year in property tax revenue, and about $2,500 of that total could be abated. In return for the tax relief, the project is expected to add 15 new jobs to the city’s income-tax roll.

Atkinson said he has already received a grant to help with façade work and is trying to get the property designated as a brownfield.

DAR Development Inc. of Plainfield Township is handling the leasing of office space, and Atkinson said it would take his firm from 60 to 90 days to build out the suites. He said suites will range in size from 1,200 square feet to 4,800 square feet, depending on a tenant’s need.

“We’re going to do all the build-outs for the tenants to meet their specifications and if each tenant wants a 1,200-square-foot suite, we could have up to six suites,” said Atkinson.

“I’ve got all my ducks pretty much in a row,’ Atkinson said.

“All my contractors are on stand-by. All the pricing for the majority of the construction to get it to the point of where the tenant can take over is all set in place. Zoning is set in place,” he added. “So now we’re at the point where we’re marketing it.”

The building is a block east of Alpine Avenue at the corner of Leonard and McReynolds, almost smack dab in the middle of the West Leonard business district.

Westsiders might recognize the structure as the longtime home of DeGroot Moving and Storage.

Atkinson said the 2,500-pound freight elevator that DeGroot used will be taken out and replaced with a new stairwell and a new passenger elevator. Both will go from the basement to the garden terrace that is planned for the roof.

“We’ve got a beautiful view of downtown from the roof, being one of the taller buildings on the West Side,” he said.

Atkinson said his rental rates will be conservative — especially when compared to what office space goes for downtown — for a site that is near the central business district.

Tenants will have storage space available in the basement and a choice of indoor or off-street parking. The plan also includes a café for the ground floor.

“The old DeGroot Moving and Storage office area is in the back. It’s approximately 1,500 square feet. We’re going to demo the old office and create a nice retail and café atmosphere for the convenience of the tenants,” said Atkinson.

One of the area’s top-rated antique shops, Mary’s Used Furniture, occupies the street-level storefront. ChoiceOne Bank is financing the project.

“I’m really excited about this. It is a nice building. It’s structurally sound as can be, being totally constructed out of steel and concrete. There is no wood in the building whatsoever,” said Atkinson.

“It’s just phenomenal, the construction and condition of the building.”

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