It's Bid Time On Centre Ramp Site

December 13, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The city will kick off its marketing campaign to sell the site of the former City Centre parking ramp this week, a 37,000-square-foot parcel at the southwest corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street.

The asking price is $1.95 million, a figure the city said was based on an independent appraisal done last spring. The city will accept proposals for the property until March 4, 2005.

"This is a significant opportunity to add to the development of downtown," said Susan Shannon, city economic development director.

"A prominent mixed-use building will offer a lively entry point to downtown, anchor the east end of Monroe Center, and provide a key link to the burgeoning Avenue of the Arts development on South Division," added Shannon.

Both Shannon and Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said a number of developers have inquired about the property, which was home to the ramp for 42 years before it was razed in September. When a transaction is closed next year, proceeds from the sale will go to Parking Services for the construction of a new parking ramp in the Heartside Business District, where the former ramp was located.

"I think the city and the Parking Commission feel this is a good opportunity for the city," said Jack Hoffman, chairman of the Parking Commission and a member of the task force assigned to decide what to do with the property.

Proposals submitted to the city will be judged on seven criteria; the most important one revolves around the type of development planned for the site. The city is looking for a mixed-use project that offers retail or entertainment on the ground floor with housing or office space on the upper levels.

Shannon said arts- and entertainment-related retail, such as a bookstore or jazz club, is preferred by the city. Art-based retail would create a solid link with the Avenue of the Arts project that is bringing loft apartments and gallery space just to the south of the ramp site. But she said other retail, like a grocery store, would also receive strong consideration in the selection process.

"Art is a preference, not a requirement," said Shannon.

Other criteria include:

  • A developer's experience and qualifications.
  • The total investment made and expected economic return a project will have.
  • The time it will take to complete a project.
  • How well the design fits in the existing environment.
  • The terms and price of the deal.

Proposals that include 100 parking spaces for visitors will receive extra consideration.

A special committee will review submitted proposals and make recommendations to the Parking and City commissions. City commissioners have to approve the sale and the Historic Preservation Commission has to approve the design because the property is located in the Heartside Historic District.

Shannon said the city hopes to close on the deal in September.

The city will spend up to $20,000 on the marketing campaign, which includes direct mailing to developers and placing ads in business publications in Detroit, Chicago and the Wall Street Journal.    

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