Ramp Deal On Docket

November 18, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners are expected to decide this week whether to enter into a sales agreement with Two West Fulton for the former City Centre parking ramp site at Division and Fulton, a 37,000-square-foot parcel that the developer has singled out for a $24 million residential and commercial project.

The proposal from Two West Fulton, a partnership between RSC Associates of Chicago and Second Story Properties of Grand Rapids, beat a handful of others for the downtown parcel last spring, and met the property’s sale price of $2 million. Commissioners authorized city staff in May to negotiate a sales contract with the firm; the results of those talks were revealed recently.

The contract binds the firm to building 82,000 square feet of market-rate residential units, most of them likely to be condominiums, and 32,000 square feet of commercial space. But the pact also gives the firm some leeway in those numbers. The condo space can rise or drop by 20 percent, and the commercial square footage can vary by 30 percent.

The agreement also calls for the project to have 149 public parking spaces, a number that can fluctuate by 20 percent, and binds the developer to only leasing retail space to the types of merchants approved by the city.

“It’s pages long and not really restrictive,” said Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema of the acceptable merchandiser list. “But there are some things that we don’t want to see there, like an X-rated bookstore.”

Two West Fulton must close on the deal by Jan. 31, 2007, and give the city the $2 million at closing. When asked why the closing date was set more than a year away, Second Story Properties President Sam Cummings said due diligence needs to be done on the site and preliminary design work has to be done on the development.

“It’s not like (putting up) a Wal-Mart in a cornfield. It’s an intense project,” he said.

As it stands now, the residential portion of the project will be 11 stories and house 82 condos. There also will be two floors of commercial space that will front Division Avenue, and two levels of parking that will be located below the structure.

The developer has until Jan. 31, 2008, to start construction at the site, which has a current address of One Division Avenue. If the work isn’t done within two years, Two West Fulton will owe the city an additional $175,000.

Cummings said the firm has invested more than $40,000 in the project so far and would owe the city another $15,000 if the project doesn’t go forward.

Commissioners are expected to discuss the agreement Nov. 22.    

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