An Even Bigger BOB

January 13, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — The expansion plan the Gilmore Collection unveiled for The BOB last year has apparently been expanded this year.

Last April, Gilmore Collection CEO Gregory Gilmore entered into a three-year option with the city to purchase the 11,360-square-foot portion of the city-owned 50 Monroe Place parking lot that fronts Monroe Avenue and is adjacent to the north side of The BOB.

Doing business as 20 Monroe Avenue, the address of the downtown entertainment complex, Gilmore said he planned to build a 20,000-square-foot building on the lot to house a performance theater and a family-style restaurant at a cost of $3 million.

Last week, parking commissioners learned at their monthly meeting that 20 Monroe has a bigger project in mind and needs to add the 19,985-square-foot portion of the same lot that fronts Ottawa Avenue to the segment it has already optioned in order to build it.

Commissioners also learned that 20 Monroe upped its investment in the construction project to $5 million and wants to enter into a new, three-year option for the entire 31,345 square feet that comprises the 50 Monroe Place lot.

Gilmore didn’t attend the meeting last week, as he was traveling out of the country, so details of the new project weren’t presented.

But Eric Soucey, a city economic development coordinator, told commissioners that 20 Monroe has agreed to pay $55 a square foot for the lot, which brings the price for both sections to $1.725 million in the first year of the option. In year two of the option, the price rises to nearly $1.87 million or $56.65 a square foot. In year three, it increases to $1.83 million or $58.35 a square foot.

“The entire site would have a value of $55 a square foot. He has agreed to increase his investment from $3 million to $5 million,” said Soucey of Gilmore.

The option will cost 20 Monroe $20,000 the first year, $50,000 the second year, and $100,000 in the third year. So it’s financially advantageous for 20 Monroe to close on the property sooner rather than later.

In the April option that 20 Monroe agreed to, the firm agreed to pay $43.91 a square foot for the Monroe side of the lot and $10,000 for the first year of the option. The price for that segment of the lot was $498,818 in the first year.

The city’s Economic Vitality Team, a committee of city commissioners and city staff, met last week and came out in favor of the new option. Parking commissioners also supported the agreement. City commissioners will have the final word on it soon.

“Surface parking lots are not viewed as the highest and best use of land downtown,” said Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema, “and this (project) certainly fits in the arts and entertainment strategy.” 

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