Hotel Project Not Parked

May 4, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Buyers will begin moving into their new condominiums in the Icon on Bond building next month. And with that endeavor nearly completed, Moch International can turn more attention to its next project.

The father-son team that comprises Moch International, Joseph W. and Joseph A. Moch, wants to build a new hotel in the Monroe North Business District. The hotel site sits on the northwest corner of

Bond Avenue
and
Trowbridge Street
, just across Trowbridge from the Icon building. And like the Icon site, the hotel property is also in the Renaissance Zone, which means the land is nearly free of state and local taxes for the next few years.

Joseph A. Moch told the Business Journal that he and his father aren't ready to release all the details on the hotel yet. But he did say that they have lined up an operator to run it and the financing to build it. At this stage, the hotel would have 118 rooms and cost $16 million to construct.

What is delaying the development is a lack of hotel guest parking. Moch said they can't afford to build spaces into the project like they did at Icon, which has 123 indoor spaces on the lower levels. So the Mochs asked the Parking Commission last month for an agreement that would let them lease 70 spaces in the city-operated North Monroe lot, just a block west of the hotel site on the east bank of the Grand River at

Monroe Avenue
and Trowbridge.

Commissioners, though, expressed reservations about having hotel parking there and denied the request. One reason cited for rejecting it was the thought that having parking on riverfront property isn't the best use for such valuable and limited land.

"I don't think the meeting with the Parking Commission was very productive. I think their objection to have parking on the river is fine except it's already there, and we're simply asking to use it. There are two other parking lots on either side of the property, as well," said Moch.

"I think those properties have been just as developable for the last 20 years, and no one has done anything with them. I think the agreement that we put together allowed them to move us or do whatever they can to get the property developed, so it doesn't really hinder the city in that regard. I just don't think there was a clear understanding of that with the Parking Commission," he added.

The Mochs offered to pay the city $5,700 per month for 24-hour access to 70 spaces in the 128-space lot, and were willing to sign a 20-year lease for the spaces.

"I think we're going to talk to the city in greater detail, perhaps with the City Commission," said Moch.

The Mochs had originally planned to put another condo building on the hotel site, but plans changed to an apartment complex when more downtown condo projects were announced after they began Icon construction.

The Mochs included a hotel in their development for the city's Public Works Island when they responded to the city's request last year for letters-of-interest on the site at

201 Market Ave. SW.
But the estimated $50 million cost to buy and develop the 16 riverfront acres made them take another look at their plans for the Monroe North property they already owned.

"That was a component of it, and we had actually started the market study in anticipation of that," said Moch of their Market proposal. "We got the results from the study back, and it pointed to being doable. So we decided to see how the hotel would work on our site."

Icon on Bond has 118 condos. Moch said 66 have been sold so far, helping them accomplish their goal to have at least half of the units sold before buyers started moving into the building. Three Icon models will be open for public viewing from May 25 to June 9 during the Spring Parade of Homes.

"When the weather was bad, it was unbelievably slow. When the weather is nicer, the traffic picks up considerably," said Moch of sales inquiries.

The condos range in size from 728 square feet to 1,418 square feet and are priced from $186,000 to $420,000. The Mochs said Icon is the first residential structure in the city for the past 15 years that wasn't built on a commercial floor plate, as it was designed from the inside out to make the nine-story building more accessible to residents.

Bloodgood, Sharp & Buster of Chicago designed Icon on Bond. Wolverine Building Co. managed the project.    

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