Focus, Construction, and Real Estate

Rowe’s revival fuels north end

July 31, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Rowe
The demolition portion of work on the former Rowe Hotel should be completed within the next six weeks. Photo by Chris Pastotnik

The mixed-use redevelopment of a historic downtown hotel is coming along smoothly.

The demolition phase at the Rowe Hotel on the corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue NW is still in progress, but the project is slated to finish up by next summer, said Nick Koster, vice president of operations at CWD Real Estate.

CWD announced the redevelopment of the former hotel in December. Vacant since 2001, the Rowe building has been owned by Rich DeVos and his development company, RDV Corp., for more than a decade.

“We’ve been doing a lot of demolition,” Koster said. “In about a month and half, the bulk of that should be done.”

He said there also has been some preparation work for construction being done alongside the demolition work.

Integrated Architecture and Nederveld are designing and engineering the project, with Triangle Associates acting as contractor.

The projected cost is expected to fall in the $22 million to $26 million range, as originally announced.

The building will include 9,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the first floor, approximately 49 underground parking spaces, 77 one- and two-bedroom apartments on floors three to nine, and eight condominiums on floors 10 and 11.

Originally built in 1921, much of the building’s original façade will be restored. Aside from being a hotel, the building also was an urban retirement home, Olds Manor, from the 1960s until it closed its doors in 2001.

The project was approved for several funds by the Downtown Development Authority in January, including a $35,000 Areaway Fill Program grant, $35,000 Streetscape Improvement Grant and a $50,000 Building Reuse Incentive Program grant.

The project falls outside the DDA’s tax increment finance district, with that money going to the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. As it was ruled obsolete, the building applied for brownfield support and received $3 million in tax break support for the project.

Much of the $120,000 granted by the DDA is going toward public realm improvements, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. president and CEO Kris Larson told the Business Journal in January.

“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,” Larson said at the time.

Demolition on the Rowe project began roughly at the same time as demolition of the former Grand Rapids Press building across the street.

Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine broke ground June 18 on its $88.1 million Grand Rapids Research Center on the site of the former Press building at 155 Michigan St. NW. The new facility will be a 160,000-square-foot, six-story biomedical research center, with a projected opening in late 2017.

Both the city of Grand Rapids and Michigan State University officials have approved the project with a traditional, university-financed model.

The MSU project, however, will only use half of the parcel of land. Koster said he expects MSU will begin to accept requests for portions of the property this fall.

With the research facility acting as the epicenter, Koster said the whole North Monroe neighborhood is undergoing a transformation, including current developments such as 616 Development’s Lofts on Monroe at 820 Monroe Ave. NW. The former furniture factory, built in 1914, is being converted into a mixed-use space with 85 apartments and first-floor retail.

“It’s a big (return) to the north side of downtown,” he said. “The north end of downtown hasn’t been paid much attention in recent years, and now there’s this big boom.”

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