City approves land swap

November 30, 2009
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Just a few weeks after Grand Rapids city commissioners agreed to lease five southeast side parcels to Kent County for $98 a month, they approved trading the five to the county for a nearby larger property with no cash changing hands.

County commissioners still have to authorize the transfer for the swap to take place, but the county’s Finance Committee has already recommended that commissioners enter into a transaction with the city. County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the transaction on Dec. 10.

The deal has the city giving the county four parcels in the 100-block of Franklin Street SE and one on Major Place SE. All five are near the county’s Human Services Complex at 121 Franklin St. SE and the county plans to convert the properties into surface parking lots to support the traffic to the new building that opened last June.

In return, the county will give the city its former human services building at 415 Franklin St. SE and its two parking lots. That building contains the Paul I. Phillips Gymnasium, which both the city and county have funded. The city has discussed moving its development center from 1120 Monroe NW to the Franklin address.

The transfer agreement requires the county to apply for a brownfield designation from the state for 415 Franklin St. to help the city fund any changes it will make to the property. The city will apply for the grant and pay the grant costs.

The city will also pay for an environmental assessment of the property, while the county will pay for the title change. The two will split the cost of any real estate commission fee, but the city’s share of that tab can’t exceed $2,000.

If the city decides to sell, lease or transfer 415 Franklin for commercial reasons within five years of the transfer, the city would have to share the transaction’s net profits with the county.

The transfer calls for the city to become responsible for all the operating costs at 415 Franklin on the first day of the month following the month the deal officially closes. So if the transaction closes in December, the city will begin paying the property’s operating costs Jan. 1.

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