Ledyard Renovations Spark Leasing Activity

November 5, 2008
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Several new tenants have been drawn to the Ledyard Building, attracted by the extensive renovations that are winding up this fall.

“Our recent million-dollar-plus renovation of the building has created good momentum. Also, the building has a great deal of character and charm,” said Steve Dodgson, president of Dodgson Realty Co., the commercial property brokerage firm that owns the building.

Dodgson said renovations to the building, located at 125 Ottawa Ave. NW, total $1.2 million as they enter the final stage by upgrading the Monroe Center entranceway. The building has experienced an influx in leasing activity that Dodgson attributes to the renovations. In a 60-day span the building has added eight new tenants.

“A lot of the activity is coming from the work we did last year and are continuing to do this year to the physical structure of the building,” said Dodgson. “I think as tenant leases are turning over or new people are entering the market, the building shows better — that in addition to a great location, those two things combined.”

The renovations of the 130,000-square-foot building included a complete cleaning and restoration of the exterior, a new roof system, upgraded mechanical systems, a new sidewalk along Ottawa Avenue, and cosmetic changes to the interior.

All of the entranceways were redone except the Monroe Center entranceway. That entrance is receiving new wood doors with side windows as well as a Macatawa ATM on the exterior. The entrance was to be completed in October.

All of the renovations match the historic presence of the building and in 2007, the Ledyard Building won the Outstanding Historic Renovation Project of a Commercial Renovation from the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation.

One of the most impressive spaces in the building is the North Atrium.

“It’s the true corner building,” said Dodgson of the North Atrium. “There were seven buildings combined initially to create the modern day Ledyard Building and that was the original 1874 structure with a three-story atrium, and that has some deep history to it. It has a very large skylight to it and has a lot of natural light in there. It’s a very unique setting in downtown.”

As a historically registered setting, Dodgson said he is not allowed to change anything that is part of the look of the structure.

The building is near capacity with spaces that range from a 2,200-square-foot retail storefront to 300-square-foot single offices. Some of the larger office suites go up to 4,200 square feet.

One person who responded to all the changes was Tim Neff, CPA and owner of Neff & Associates CPA LLC. The business moved into the building in July 2007 from another downtown office space.

“I was looking for a new office and I like the character of the building. They’ve done a very nice job of renovating over the past few years, and I just thought it was one of the nice buildings of downtown,” said Neff.

“The character of the older building: That’s what drew me more than anything — the open atrium in the center of the building, its convenient location downtown to the freeways. But … mainly because of the character.”

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