Suit Yourself

October 9, 2006
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Whereas the Circuit Court lawsuit referenced on this page last week between Cardiel Properties LLC and the city of Grand Rapids concerning the property on which Moch International had planned its Presidio apartment complex was nothing more than a motion to vacate a previously dedicated alley — no conflict there — the suit filed by Cardiel against Joe W. Moch and Co. last week is a different matter entirely.

Per the lawsuit, Manuel Cardiel’s real estate interest and the good folks at Fisher & Dickinson PC are at their wits’ end with the Joes Moch. Now 11 months into a buy and sell agreement for the L-shaped property at 235 Grandville Ave. SW, 248 Williams St. SW and 244 Finney St. SW, Moch has yet to pony up the $1.8 million purchase price negotiated by Platinum Realty Group’s Matt Larkin

With the most recent closing date of June 9 long since gone, Cardiel Properties is requesting the due diligence documents and $20,000 earnest payment it was entitled to if the deal went kaput.

That the Presidio — roughly translated as a Spanish fort — is a no-go has been rumored for the better part of three months on the Urban Planet Web forum and elsewhere. Chris Knape of the local daily even wrote about it on his blog, with the younger Joe Moch assuring him that the $15 million, 171-unit project near The Rapid Central Station was indeed moving along, and planned for a spring groundbreaking.

Giving the Mochs the same courtesy allotted to River Grand developer Duane Faust a week ago, it should be noted that this lawsuit has nothing to do with the Moch International proposal to develop the city-owned PublicWorksIsland roughly 600 feet away.

  • Speaking of people who aren’t selling their land in what will forever be known as the mystery development neighborhood: Mark London has finally opened the doors of his downtown strip club at
    234 Market Ave. SW
    , the Showgirls Galleria.

This on the heels of being denied an initial attempt for a zoning variance to serve alcohol, getting hosed by the city’s nudity ban, and being honored with the Guardian of Liberty Award by the West Michigan Libertarian Party.

It’s got to be getting hard for Mayor George Heartwell and Kent County Commission candidate Judy Rose to argue the strip club ordinance represents the will of the people when London is hailed as a hero by a freedom-first political party for fighting it.

On that note, it’s interesting to look back at this week in the Business Journal, 1997, “City Puts Pinch on Nudie Bars,” with then Mayor John Logie stomping on London’s first attempt to move downtown, passing an emergency ordinance banning adult entertainment in the commercial core.

  • In other downtown news, the newly created Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce is investigating whether or not to stay there. With the merger of Paramount and Commerce, the real estate brokerage is too big for their respective
    300 Ottawa Ave. NW
    and
    32 Market Ave. SE
    headquarters. According to Chairman Bill Bowling, the now-100-employee firm is going to need 30,000 square feet, and while it could expand at either location, a new site seems to be the best choice.

“It’s like what happens when two widowers get married,” said Bowling. “There will be a lot less issues if you just move into a brand new house.”

The firm wants to stay downtown, Bowling said, but parking for employees at $100 or so a month will be a significant burden. It would be considerably cheaper to move into AmericanSeatingPark or the upcoming HarleyMedicalPark in Cascade, both possibilities.

The firm will likely find a way to stay downtown, Bowling said, but that might depend on whether Grand Rapids can offer any incentives to offset the expense.

  • One thing downtown has no lack of these days is construction workers. With all the construction sites involved in the urban renaissance, a worker downtown is just as likely to be wearing a hard hat as a two-piece suit. And by all appearances, that won’t change anytime soon.

What impact this influx of blue collars to the commercial core has and will have on the district, remains to be seen.

“I hope there are two kinds of impact,” said Sharon Evoy, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. “I’m hoping they’re going into the stores and restaurants, but almost more important is that they are getting exposure to the downtown and finding places they might like to explore.”

A dusty construction worker probably isn’t going to grab a table at Leo’s or Tre Cugini, for instance, both of which are across the street from major construction sites. But maybe they’ll come back for dinner with a date.

Evoy took particular interest in the newly renovated Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Most of the workers that participated in the year-long construction project there would likely have never set foot in the theater otherwise, and she expects a great many will return to see a play — if only to admire their own craftsmanship.

At lunchtime, it’s a mixed bag. Renee Miller, owner and general manager of the Quiznos franchise on

Pearl Street
, said that construction workers are a crucial part of her business.

Since she opened two years ago, she has not known a time when construction workers were not part of the daily crowd, and while she was originally attracted to the location because of new downtown residents and office workers, she expects the blue-collar worker to continue to drop by for a prime rib sandwich and other fare for years to come.

Bernie Kersten of Big O’s Pizza said he has seen some impact from the construction crew directly across the street at the new Grand RapidsArt Museum site.

“The problem is, they’re on such a short lunch period, they generally have to order ahead for the whole crew in order to have time to eat,” Kersten said. “We take care of them when they do.”

Next door at Two Choppers, a sign is posted denoting a 20 percent discount for construction workers.    

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