Two West Gets Six Months

January 26, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Commissioners agreed to extend the city’s development and lease agreement with Two West Fulton LLC last week for a $22 million project proposed for the former City Centre parking ramp site at Division Avenue and Fulton Street.

RSC Associates of Chicago and Second Story Properties of Grand Rapids comprise Two West Fulton and were to have closed on the property purchase with the city by Wednesday. But the extension gives the developers six more months to do that — time Two West said it needs for its anchor tenant, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, to sign the papers necessary to move to the site.

“UICA is currently developing a letter-of-intent to engage RSC to begin architectural and design drawings and specifications for the Fulton Project and to begin drafting proposed project documents. UICA intends to further engage RSC to construct and deliver the Gallery on Fulton Project (upon the execution of mutually acceptable project documents),” wrote UICA Executive Director Jeff Meeuwsen in a letter to the city.

City Economic Development Director Susan Shannon said UICA did a feasibility study on the nonprofit organization’s capacity to raise enough funds for the move, and the report came back positive. Shannon also said that UICA has found a potential buyer for its current building at 41 Sheldon Blvd. SE.

In addition to UICA, the developers are looking to draw two national retailers to the site and to build an 11-story apartment complex. Seventy-two rental apartments would replace the condominiums that were initially planned for the development.

“The condo market is reaching a saturation point, we think,” said Shannon. “Apartments are needed in downtown.”

Shannon said Two West Fulton has spent more than $250,000 on the project so far and will pay the city another $30,000 for the extension. The developers now have until July 31 to close on their $2 million purchase agreement with the city for the 37,000-square-foot site at the north edge of the Avenue of the Arts, a section of Division Avenue buildings Dwelling Place Inc. has renovated into living and gallery spaces for local artists.

“It’s a great project,” said 2nd Ward Commissioner Rosalyn Bliss. “Tying it to the Avenue of the Arts is worth the six-month wait.”

The city’s Parking Services Department will proceed with its plans to build a temporary surface lot on the site.    

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