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Bank sells downtown landmarks to real estate firm

October 5, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Fifth Third Center downtown Grand Rapids
The two buildings of the Fifth Third Center stand in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Courtesy Fifth Third Bank

A bank has sold a pair of landmark buildings in downtown Grand Rapids to a local real estate firm.

Grand Rapids-based CWD Real Estate Investment said this morning it has closed on the purchase of the Fifth Third Center, which consists of the 10-story building at 111 Lyon St. NW and the five-story building at 200 Monroe Ave. NW, as well as 723 total surface and underground parking spaces. 

The 330,000 square feet of space in Fifth Third Center was owned by Fifth Third Bank, which will remain a long-term tenant. The bank desired to find a developer to help strengthen the building’s standing in downtown, which it found in CWD, said Tom Welch, regional president, Fifth Third Bank West Michigan.

“Fifth Third’s presence in this community isn’t defined by owning this campus,” Welch said. “It’s defined by our belief and commitment to making Grand Rapids a better place to work, live and play.”

The buildings, built in 1966 and 1967, anchor the south end of the 12.5-acre Vandenberg Center, where Alexander Calder’s “La Grande Vitesse” sits, along with city and county buildings.

CWD plans to renovate the Fifth Third Center buildings to update their designs, while the fundamentals of the buildings remain among the strongest in downtown Grand Rapids, said Sam Cummings, managing partner, CWD Real Estate Investment. There is no timetable for the updates.

“The opportunity to re-design and revitalize the anchor properties in this area is extraordinary,” Cummings said. “We’re excited to build on Fifth Third’s legacy with these buildings.”

The updates to the buildings will be similar to what CWD completed at 200 and 300 Ottawa Ave. NW and is working on at 250 Monroe Ave. NW, Cummings said.

Those other CWD properties are near Calder Plaza, which is undergoing a “re-imagining” process. Both Cummings and Scott Wierda, a CWD managing partner, are on the 21-member citizen steering committee for the process.

“CWD’s commitment to seeing through a vision of a connected and re-invigorated Vandenberg Center enables tremendous opportunities for those edges to become seams and for the Calder Plaza to realize its full potential,” said Kris Larson, president and CEO, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., a leading partner on the Calder Plaza re-imagining. 

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