Construction, Real Estate, and Travel & Tourism

New owners plan hotel, apartments for downtown landmark

April 16, 2014
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Owners plan hotel, apartments for downtown landmark
The six-story Waters Building in downtown Grand Rapids is on Ottawa Ave. NW at Lyon St. NW. Photo by Mike Nichols

The new owners of a six-story building in downtown Grand Rapids are planning to convert the landmark into a hotel and apartments.

The 290,000-square-foot Waters Building is being transformed into a mixed-use building, featuring a Homewood Suites by Hilton, apartments, offices and retail, at 161 Ottawa Ave. NW, according to the building owners.

The project should be finished by November 2015.

Visser Brothers will perform construction, while Concept Design Group will serve as the architect.

Mercantile Bank is funding the project, said Bill Mast, president of Visser Brothers in Grand Rapids.

Mast said that the project’s budget isn’t finalized and nothing has been submitted to the city yet.

Visser Brothers and Edmark Development in Grand Rapids purchased the Waters Building through the Waters Building LLC in February for $12.75 million, according to city records.

The building had previously been owned by Three Oaks Group LLC, which purchased the building in 2006, but lost it to foreclosure in October 2012.

Two-tower setup

“The building basically lends itself to a north tower and south tower,” Mast said. “The north tower offices will remain on the first, second, third and fourth floor. The fifth and sixth floors of the north tower will be the apartments. The second to sixth floors of the south tower will be the hotel.”

The 100,000-square-foot hotel will feature 107 rooms and be patterned after a downtown Indianapolis Homewood Suites by Hilton, Mast said.

The hotel is being designed for extended-stay guests, such as travelling consultants or families who need to stay close to the hospitals on Medical Mile.

The 50,000-square-foot apartment space will feature 42 units, 21 per floor, and be designed for a mix of young professionals and empty nesters.

Although no name has been decided, Mast expects the complex will be called something like “Waters Building Apartments.”

Tenants

The building is almost half empty now that law firm Rhoades McKee and insurance company Hylant have announced plans to leave soon, Mast said.

The rest of the building’s tenants — there’s about 58 of them throughout the floors — will be re-arranged into the first four floors of the north tower, making room to block off the upper floors for the apartments.

“Almost the entire current office tenancy will be staying with the building,” Mast said. “We expected more of an exodus, but we interviewed everyone in the building. We expected more people to be tired of existing management or tired, but the tenants loved the building and wanted to stay.”

The owners plan to begin work on re-arranging the tenants’ spaces.

“There’s a lot of internal work before anything dramatic happens,” Mast said. “It’ll be a year of transition, but it will be a better place than it has been.”

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