Architecture & Design, Construction, and Real Estate

Exhibitors Building to house office space

Structure attached to Amway Grand Plaza will be ready for tenants next spring.

September 2, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Exhibitors Building
The Exhibitors Building as it will look with windows on the fourth and fifth floors. Courtesy Concept Design

The Exhibitors Building has been an underutilized and mostly forgotten building attached to the Amway Grand Plaza for decades, but a portion of the building is set to become Class A office space.

Pioneer Construction already is working on demolition of the fourth and fifth floors of the building, 220 Lyon St. NW, as part of a redevelopment plan by Amway Hotel Corp. and X Ventures. The renovation includes the installation of windows on the fourth and fifth floors, upgraded interiors and an update of the lobby entrance and elevator shafts, according to Chip Bowling, president of X Ventures.

Amway Hotel Corp. extensively has renovated the Amway Grand Plaza tower and the Pantlind Hotel portions, and now, CEO Rick Winn has his sights set on restoring the Exhibitors Building to a valuable asset in downtown Grand Rapids.

“It’s really about not leaving an asset underutilized,” Winn said. “It seems a shame to have two floors that are not able to be leased out because of the building and the lack of windows. We just want to have a more dynamic space here.”

The Exhibitors Building was built in the 1920s to help house annual furniture markets and was not originally attached to the Pantlind Hotel. Today, the building has tenants, such as Plastic Surgery Associates, IBOAI and SIBSCO LLC.

The building also is used for support services, amenities and meeting space for the hotel.

When looking at potential uses for the underutilized space, Winn said the building felt right for office space, as opposed to additional hotel rooms, of which the Amway Grand already has nearly 700.

The renovation of the fourth and fifth floor will create 36,000 square feet of Class A office space. While full developments of Class A office space haven’t been pursued by developers recently in downtown Grand Rapids, Bowling said more options are needed.

“Taking office buildings and turning them into mixed-use retail, office and residential buildings, just by people redeveloping them, has made the number of options disappear overnight,” Bowling said. “There is still a need for Class A space options, so we’re trying to redevelop what the market wants.”

Bowling said X Ventures, which will be the broker on the project, has filled nearly the entire fifth floor with pre-leased tenants. Most of the tenants have yet to be announced, but X Ventures will be included as a new resident.

The developers worked with Steve Fry at Concept Design to determine the final cost of space to be $22 per square foot, including everything but electric and janitorial services.

The brokerage is looking to fill the more than 18,000 square feet of space on the fourth floor.

New tenants potentially can move in April or May 2017, assuming construction goes according to schedule, Bowling said.

Tenants in the building receive all amenities that come with the hotel, including room service, fitness center, eight restaurants, beauty salon, day spa and valet parking, as well as connection to a Four Diamond hotel.

Bowling said Amway already has some of the most recognizable and architecturally pleasing buildings in Grand Rapids, and all that was missing from Exhibitors Building was two floors of windows.

“Once we have windows, there’s a market need for this building,” Bowling said. “It sits on the river, it’s connected to the Amway Plaza Hotel, the skywalk and it has more amenities than any other building downtown.”

The renovation of part of the Exhibitors Building also is important because of the Lyon Square project — plans to improve the end of Lyon Street, which dead ends at the river and is contiguous to the building.

The $480,000 planned redesign includes a terraced flood wall and additional green space and could be completed by 2018. The Downtown Development Authority approved $120,000 in funding in April, with the remaining funds likely coming from philanthropic sources.

The Lyon Square project, along with the outdoor seating area at Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen, continues the redevelopment of the street from the Reserve and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, so the project to use more of the Exhibitors Building is important, Bowling said.

“Once Lyon Square is completed, this whole corridor will be updated, and once it’s all done, it’s going to be the spot of the town,” he said. “They challenged themselves, Steve and us, so now we can have an affordable project at the end, and I’ve never seen Amway do anything short of great, so it will be beautiful when it’s done.”

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