Construction, Government, and Real Estate

Developer gets two key agreements from city

One is for a skywalk; the other is for a downtown property.

October 11, 2013
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The building owner that greeted ArtPrize visitors with “Hi” banners hanging from its structures during the 19-day ArtPrize got the “high” sign from city commissioners just two days after the event ended.

CWD Real Estate Investment, which hung those banners from its Goodspeed, Trust, Trade Center and other downtown buildings, got the green light from commissioners last week to construct an enclosed skywalk from the north side of its Trade Center building at 50 Louis St. NW to the southeast corner of the city-owned Ottawa Fulton parking ramp.

The “pedestrian connector,” as it’s officially called in the term sheet between the developer and the city, is part of the renovation work CWD Real Estate is doing on the seven-story office building at the corner of Louis Street and Ionia Avenue NW.

The firm, which is comprised of partners Sam Cummings, Scott Wierda and Dan DeVos, is spending at least $4.1 million on the building’s restoration, work that Cummings has described as sustainable and which was designed by Cornerstone Architects.

The plan includes restoring the façade of the structure that was built in 1896, improving the building’s lobby, installing green-design features, putting in new windows, updating office suites and restrooms, building a rooftop deck and adding the connector.

CWD will pay for construction of the connector, which will stretch roughly 10 feet from the fifth floor of the Trade Center to the “I” level of the parking ramp. Once the skywalk is built, CWD will sell it to the city for $1 and pay Parking Services, which operates the ramp, $20,000 to cover the parking revenue the city will lose from the two spaces the connector will eliminate.

“The developer will be responsible for maintenance and repair of the corridor,” said Pam Ritsema, managing director of the city’s Enterprise Services, which includes Parking Services.

Ritsema also said the ramp’s I level isn’t very busy during business hours and having Trade Center tenants and visitors use the Ottawa Fulton facility will result in more parking revenue for the city.

“It’s in Parking’s best interest to have that connector,” she said.

CWD Real Estate is expected to lease 65 parking spaces for the Trade Center in the 788-space ramp and will purchase a liability insurance policy that will hold the city harmless in case of injury or accidents resulting from the skywalk. The connector agreement is for 30 years. The city’s Parking Commission approved it last month.

Commissioners also approved a second term sheet with CWD Real Estate that allows it to buy a slice of city-owned property on which the firm holds an option. The site is at the corner of Fulton Street and Ionia Avenue. It runs along the south side of the Trade Center, and the Ottawa Fulton ramp and is almost directly across Fulton Street from Van Andel Arena.

The triangular piece of property measures about 20,000 square feet, and Parking Services currently has a series of meters on the site. CWD Real Estate bought a three-year option on the parcel from the city last January and now will purchase a 13-by-132-foot section of the site for the Trade Center’s restoration work.

“We’re glad that they’re renovating that wall because the paint has been flaking off it,” said Ritsema.

Commissioner Walt Gutowski pointed out that selling the slice of the property to CWD Real Estate wouldn’t hinder another developer from building on it if the firm doesn’t buy the entire parcel.

A sales price has to be determined and the agreement requires CWD Real Estate to pay for an appraisal. The developer will bring everything up to code once the work on that side of the Trade Center is completed.

CWD Real Estate is paying the city $15,000 this year for the option and $20,000 in years two and three. The option cost will be applied to the purchase price if the firm buys the entire property.

The firm told the city last winter it is considering putting up an eight-story building there with 127,000 square feet for Class A office space on the upper levels and retail on the ground floor.

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