Economic Development, Government, and Real Estate

DDA approves funds for Olds Manor project

Money will be used to fill an areaway and improve the building’s streetscape.

January 16, 2015
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Olds Manor
The former Olds Manor is getting a $26 million makeover to include retail, restaurants and housing space. Photo by Chris Pastotnik

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority has approved funding for the recently announced Olds Manor redevelopment project, also known as the Rowe Hotel building.

The redevelopment project was announced in December by CWD Real Estate, working on behalf of property owner OMH, which plans to turn the building, located on the corner of Michigan and Monroe, at 201 Michigan St. NW, into a mixed-use development.

CWD requested the support to “help offset the costs associated with the vacation of an existing areaway located along the building’s Michigan Street frontage, the installation of a new snowmelt system as part of the streetscape improvements associated with the project and with the historic restoration of the building’s two facades.”

The DDA granted a $35,000 Areaway Fill Program Grant, $35,000 Streetscape Improvement Grant and $50,000 Building Reuse Incentive Program Grant for the project.

Olds Manor is located outside of the DDA’s tax increment finance district, meaning the DDA will not benefit from improvements made to the building in the form of tax recapture. Instead, that money will go to the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, as the building has been determined to be functionally obsolete by the state’s Brownfield Act and the project has applied for brownfield support.

Eric Pratt, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. project manager, said the building was purposely excluded from the DDA tax increment finance district to allow a future developer to take advantage of other development tools available, which is now exactly what is happening.

In making its decision, DDA board members weighed the overall benefits of the Olds Manor project and determined there are still several benefits that are likely to make supporting the project a sound decision.

“The DDA makes many types of investments with the intention of being able to receive different types of returns. Whether it’s financing the parking ramp for the public museum, flood walls, or movies in the park, we invest in the return of the betterment in downtown,” said Kris Larson, president and CEO of DGRI.

Larson also noted the majority of the $120,000 would be going toward improvements to the public realm, not the building itself.

“It’s a significant investment in the public realm, in improving the quality of the environment, which right now is a fairly harsh corner,” he said. “It’s a very concrete, rigid environment. This will really soften the intersection and make it a place for people.”

Larson also emphasized the importance of reaching the critical mass necessary to drive the economic development residents are asking for downtown.

“Critical mass will help us create the sustainable downtown economy we are all asking for,” he said.

Once completed the redeveloped building will include 9,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground floor, 77 one- or two-bedroom apartments spanning floors 3-9 and condos on floors 10 and on a newly constructed 11th floor. The project also includes plans for a fitness center, community room, rooftop amenities that include a green roof feature, 48 underground parking spaces, and restoration of both of the building’s historic façades.

CWD estimates the cost of the project to be $26 million.

The real estate and development firm hopes to begin construction in the spring and expects the project to be completed and move-in ready by mid-2016.

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