Locus Locks In ‘Thirty-Eight’

July 29, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Locus Development partners John Green and Andy Winkel pointed out last week that their latest and largest undertaking to date happens to be “the region’s first new construction, non-owner occupied, mixed-use LEED project.”

In contrast, they simply called the $26 million downtown development they’re putting up at the corner of Weston Street and Commerce Avenue “Thirty-Eight” — a name that came from the address of the property at 38 Commerce Ave. SW they bought for the project.

But Green and Winkle got the most satisfaction last week from announcing that they had finalized a purchase agreement with the city and had their financing approved by Mercantile Bank.

“Our working relationship on this project with city staff and Mercantile Bank has been very constructive. With these final blessings, we are ready to go,” said Green.

“It’s great when a project like this comes together this well, especially considering the economic conditions of our region. Being able to secure financing without allocations such as new market tax credits is a testament to Mercantile Bank’s faith in the region,” said Winkel.

The purchase agreement the partners negotiated with the city has Parking Services buying roughly three-quarters of an acre on the site for a seven-story, 360-space ramp that will be tucked behind the buildings inside the overall development.

The asking price for the property is around $1.7 million. Parking Services is expected to pay $1.2 million of the total, and the Downtown Development Authority will pick up the remainder. City commissioners still have to approve the sales transaction.

Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema has said the ramp, projected to cost $9 million to build, will fill an existing parking void in that section of the Heartside Business District. The ramp will feature the first green roof to be financed by the city.

Locus Development is investing $16 million into the project, which is 68,000 square feet of office, retail and residential being built in two “liner buildings.” Thirty-Eight will have 35 apartments, eight two-story condominiums with rooftop patios, 30,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail for small shops and a restaurant, and an open-air, rooftop bar that will seat 150 patrons.

The residential structure will go up on Commerce, and the office building will be on Weston. Both will come together at the shared intersection.

“The design of the parking ramp and buildings will allow tenants to park their cars on the same floor in which they live, work, dine or shop,” said Winkel.

The partners expect to begin construction this fall. They hope to complete Thirty-Eight in 15 months and have it open by the end of next year.

“The city, Historic Preservation Commission, Downtown Development Authority and Mercantile Bank have all been very supportive of this initiative,” said Green.

“We’re eager to produce a product that we can all be proud of.”

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