Northpointe Gets Beltline Project OK

September 24, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners Tuesday approved a major amendment to the planned unit development district at 420 East Beltline Ave. NE, giving the green light for a 10-acre development that will include a 7,000-square-foot restaurant, a 60,000-square-foot office building and a 150-room hotel.

The office building will house Northpointe Bank’s new headquarters and will include a banking branch with a drive through. Northpointe will maintain the branch at 770 Kenmoor SE — where it is currently headquartered — when it moves its corporate offices to the East Beltline location, said President and CEO Charles A. Williams.

“Our main objective is the corporate headquarters, but we will be actively seeking people to develop the restaurant and hotel pieces under our oversight as far as the types of building materials and the park-like setting that we want there.”

Northpointe Bank operations will require about half the 60,000 square feet of space in the new building to begin with, Williams said. He said the bank might entertain the idea of leasing 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of the building initially, over a five- to seven-year period, but that no plans or deals have been inked as yet.

“I’m not even certain that we’re going to do that,” he added.

Although present and future space needs are part of the reason for the move, Williams said the new location at the intersection of East Beltline and the I-96 expressway — one of the region’s main north-south corridors — also will boost the bank’s visibility and profile.

Northpointe expects to break ground on its new headquarters next spring in Phase I of the development. Phase I will include construction of an upscale, freestanding restaurant. Phase II will involve construction of the hotel.

Williams couldn’t speak to the construction timeline for either the restaurant or hotel because Northpointe hasn’t struck a deal with a developer for either of those projects as yet. He said the bank would either lease or sell the land to the restaurant developer when the time comes and that the same will hold true for whoever wants to take on the hotel project.

The Planning Commission held public hearings in May and July, at which time a number of people voiced concerns about the development, including traffic issues, building height, storm water management, sanitary sewer service and the proximity of the proposed hotel and office building to south and west property lines.

Williams told planning commissioners at the time that the proposed three-story office and four-story hotel would generate more than 300 jobs in Grand Rapids. He also noted that his company’s research indicated there is a demand for hotel accommodations in the East Beltline corridor.

Although he acknowledged to planning commissioners that the bank would impact traffic, he said the impact would not be great because most customers visit the bank during non-peak traffic hours.

Planning Director Bill Hoyt indicated to city commissioners last week that the issues brought up at the public hearings have been analyzed and addressed. Both the city’s traffic Safety Department and MDOT concluded that the additional traffic generated would not further degrade conditions along the East Beltline

The city’s Environmental Protection Services Department determined the design for storm water management was sufficient and could meet necessary requirements.

The city’s Engineering Department, however, indicated that whoever develops the restaurant and hotel will have to submit a site plan review application regarding alternative sewer service solutions, cost sharing and an implementation strategy when the time comes.

Williams and Executive Vice President and COO Randall J. Ferris founded Northpointe in May 1999 as a full-service bank serving both retail and business customers. The company specializes in residential lending and small commercial lending.

Northpointe currently has more than $235 million in assets and 62 employees, a number Williams hopes to grow to more than 200 over the next 10 years.

Northpointe Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northpointe Bancshares Inc., a privately held bank holding company.    

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