Taylor Coldbrook Will Try Condos

July 28, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Another dilapidated building in the North Monroe district is getting a facelift, further making the case for

Leonard Street
as the northern boundary of downtown Grand Rapids

Taylor Coldbrook LLC, a group led by Grand Rapids contractor Constructors Inc., has intentions to convert the former Waddell Manufacturing Co. building at 1115 Taylor St. NE into a mixed-use project with approximately 24,000 square feet of office and residential condominium space.

Constructors Inc. was responsible for the renovation of a former foundry at

1140 Monroe Ave. NE
into the Old North Boundary shopping center in 2004. That property, only a block away, has come to be regarded as "the gateway to downtown." Reworking the former Waddell building, with frontage on
Plainfield Avenue
, will only help cement that perception, according to Constructors Inc. President Kim Beyer.

Whereas the foundry building was in a state of terrible disrepair when Beyer took it over, 1115 Taylor has been reasonably maintained for an obsolete manufacturing facility. As a wood manufacturer, Waddell did not leave any of the heavy industrial traces the die company at 1140 Monroe did.

To some extent, the facility has been occupied since the Waddell factory closed in the early 1990s — by a gym, storage companies, and later as band practice space. A caretaker of sorts was even appointed by the last owner.

"There was this guy in there; I asked him what he was doing, and he said 'I sweep,'" recounted Beyer. "I said, 'You sweep, or you sleep?' 'Well, I do both. I sweep for the owner. Then I sleep here, too.'"

Also represented in the investment group are Third Coast Development's Brad Rosely and Dave Levitt, the S.J. Wisinski & Co. brokers who will market the property; Lou Pitsch of Pitsch Companies, and Joe Gill of Gill Manufacturing. Many of the group's stakeholders are holdovers from the Old North Boundary project.

Beyer expects the project to break ground in the coming months and hopefully be completed by early 2007. Initially, the group had been prepared to hold the property until it was certain the market could absorb additional capacity. The overwhelming response to what little marketing efforts the group has done — primarily placing signs on the property — convinced the investors otherwise.

"We actually intended to sit on it," Beyer said. "But we've been getting a lot of calls on it already. It definitely seems there is enough interest; we might as well get going on it. Hopefully, we can get paid before wintertime."

Although the group had the option of seeking a historic designation for the building, it chose not to. It will, however, preserve the historic character of the structure. Several unusable structures onsite will be razed, leaving the three-story historic building and later a two-story addition.

An elevator tower and a glass-enclosed stair tower are among plans for exterior improvements, along with a new glass entry, windows and facade restoration. Wood floors will be refinished and preserved throughout.

At this stage, the precise use of the more than 120-year-old building has not been determined. It has room for three condos on the third floor and four to five units on the second floor, with a potential for ground floor retail, possibly a bar or restaurant. The size and amenities of the units have yet to be determined.

"At this point, we're just looking to turn it into a 'white box,'" Beyer said. "Then we'll see what the market wants."

Grand Rapids architect W.L. Perry, with offices nearby at

540 Leonard St. NW
, has been tapped for the project.

Of possible concern is the presence of a large cellular tower directly to the west of the property. The tower's generator is actually housed on Taylor Coldbrook LLC's property, and that right-of-way is already providing a small source of revenue for the company. Beyer does not believe the sight of the tower will deter tenants.

"I think people are used to seeing that kind of thing," he said.

Constructors Inc. is also currently engaged in initial plans for a similar project in the Heartside Neighborhood, representing Stratus Properties LLC in efforts to renovate

345 State St. SE
into a mixed-use development.

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