Restaurateur Gets More Time

September 1, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners gave Creston Building Co. LLC, owned by The Gilmore Collection, until March 31, 2007, to complete its development of the former library building at

1431 Plainfield Ave. NE.
The vote matched the action the Creston neighborhood and business associations wanted the city to take.

In return, Gilmore Collection President Gregory Gilmore agreed to raise the company's performance bond for the project by $10,000 to a total of $30,000. The extension was the third the firm received, since it bought the building from the city in 2003.

Gilmore said he tried to develop a full-service restaurant at the building with a rooftop dining area, but the cost to do that became too expensive. He told the city he had already invested $252,000 and 160 hours into project, and would need to spend another $300,000 to finish it.

The company originally planned to invest a total of $300,000 in the Red Ball Jet Café, the name chosen for the restaurant. But the firm realized it would have a difficult time recouping that investment with only 900 square feet of year-round indoor space and 735 square feet of seasonal dining space on the roof.

Second Ward commissioners Rick Tormala and Rosalynn Bliss, Economic Development Director Susan Shannon, Economic Development Coordinator Eric Soucey and Gilmore met with the Creston associations, which wanted the city to give Gilmore an extension.

"He is going to have a business there in a few months," said Bliss. "Everyone agreed that they were in favor of him going forward and of increasing the performance bond."

CrestonBuilding has begun making code improvements to the building and upgrades to the restrooms. Gilmore said he expects to have new estimates of the cost to convert the structure to a restaurant or a coffee shop in four to six weeks.

If CrestonBuilding doesn't complete the project by the March deadline, the firm will be in default of the agreement. It will forfeit the $30,000, but still own the building.

"His good name is involved in this also, and he wants to see it done. They wanted to give him a chance, and we have limited control over this," said Tormala.

CrestonBuilding paid the city $95,000 for the building and purchased a liquor license for the business at a cost of $72,000. Architectural fees have totaled $45,000 so far, while other costs associated with the project have come to $40,000.    

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