No Mystery Seen Here

July 21, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — The city agreed this month to buy the NAPA Auto Parts store at 233 Market Ave. SW from the Genuine Parts Co. of Atlanta for $625,000, and plans to add the property to its Public Works Island, home to multiple city departments on nearly a 16-acre site at 201 Market Ave. NW.

The building measures 10,000 square feet, while the entire auto parts parcel is 29,000 square feet.

Economic Development Director Kara Wood said the city had the property appraised and the appraisal came in at the asking price. Wood also said the city would be spending about another $15,000 to cover the due diligence, legal and closing costs, and those would bring the city’s total cost for the property to $640,000, or $22 per square foot.

“This is a phenomenal buy,” said Walt Gutowski, 1st Ward Commissioner.

Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said the city would incorporate the site into its Public Works Island and give the city the potential to move some departments into more suitable locations.

For instance, he said the city’s IT department could leave the island and move into the police department’s building on Monroe Center, where the IT operation would be more secure.

He also said Parks and Recreation, which is on the island, could be transferred to the NAPA store and become more accessible to its customers. And he said those moves could allow the city to shift some operations from leased space at 1120 Monroe Ave. NW to the island and possibly end the lease the city has with De Vries Properties.

DeLong said the city would make interior improvements to the NAPA building and would reconfigure the parking lot. But no major work is planned for the store’s exterior.

“We don’t have a firm plan yet,” said DeLong of the construction work. “If this were to happen, it would be in an 18- to 24-month timeframe.”

The city has 90 days to inspect the property; the transaction is supposed to close between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15.

The city leases 30,000 square feet in the DeVries building, and the lease was to have expired earlier this month. But the agreement was extended for two more years. Rent for those two years has been set at $101,836 or $50,918 per year.

“Acquiring the building was essential to moving out,” said Assistant City Manager Greg Sundstrom of leaving the De Vries building.

Sundstrom added that the city would perform an analysis to determine if it would be cost effective for the city to move from 1120 Monroe Ave., where its Development Center is on the second floor. The city could have bought the Monroe building this month for $5.27 million.

The city tried to sell the Public Works Island two years ago for $35 million. The property was part of the highly controversial $2.5 billion “mystery development” that was proposed by the Atlanta-based Grand Rapids Development Corp. headed by Duane Faust. The island sale and the contentious deal both officially fell through last year.

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