Old Y The Fitzgerald

July 25, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The building’s closing will actually mark its opening.

Any week now, Second Story Properties, a real estate development and management firm respected for its historic renovation work, will close on a transaction with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and take possession of the Downtown Y at

33 Library St. NW

And once Second Story, led by President Sam Cummings and Executive Vice President John Green, finishes converting the eight-story building into 50 condominiums, the structure will have a second life and a new name: “The Fitzgerald.”

The residences will range in size from 850 square feet to more than 2,000 square feet with prices starting in the low $200,000s. Amenities will include covered parking, a swimming pool, an exercise facility, a library, a dining area, and gardens in a central downtown location.

“A lot of people have come to us without any marketing and have signed reservations. I think without any solicitation, we’ve received 15 reservations,” said Green.

“Given the level of interest, we’ve expanded the project slightly and have been getting so many calls that we’ve started accepting reservations on a priority basis,” said Cummings.

The plan is to convert those reservations into buy-sell agreements by January and then begin construction, with residents moving in by spring of 2007.

“There’s a lot of interest in this project, and even though we’re still in the planning stages, the project is already generating a lot of buzz,” said Donna Dozeman, downtown residential specialist with Second Story.

More than 720,000 bricks are attached to the steel frame that has solidly supported the colonial-style downtown Y since it opened in 1914. The building features classic Palladian windows and two limestone entrances.

“Our plan is to build on the original architectural details, creating a warm and inviting foyer featuring wood paneling, ornamental columns and a period lounge, including a fireplace and rich appointments,” said Green.

“This marketplace has never seen this type of development. They have seen a conversion of historic buildings. But the level of finishes, the intimacy, the boutique-type of feel is very unique to our market. We’re trying to create a community within a community,” said Green.

Cornerstone Architects, well known for its renovation work, is designing the revival.

So why call the building The Fitzgerald? Well, like the company and the projects it is noted for, the name also honors the past.

“William Fitzgerald, legend has it, was the first person to meet the Indians on the bank of the Grand River. So we felt that the name, The Fitzgerald, was something that represents a piece of our history and our beginning,” said Green, of that reported meeting in 1748.

“We wanted a name that had some historical integrity to it, just like this project,” echoed Cummings. “Our intent is to maintain The Fitzgerald as a landmark, not only in terms of its location, but also in terms of its style and quality.”    

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