CSL West Gets Ionia Easement

February 13, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — CSL West Associates LLC got the easement it requested along Ionia Avenue SW last week.

That green light, however, has a bit of red tape stuck to it.

The Downtown Development Authority agreed to give the development firm access to 50 feet on the southwest corner of Ionia and Weston, just north of the Area 3 parking lot and east of the Van Andel Arena.

CSL West, which is comprised of Rockford Development, Second Story Properties and the DeVos family, and which stands for Cherry Street Landing West, has exercised its option on the lot and plans to put up at least two buildings on it.

The structure planned for the southernmost portion of the property has been targeted to serve as the headquarters of an unidentified bank, with customer parking behind the building.

Without the easement, though, customers would have a more difficult time getting to the bank. Access there lets traffic enter the lot from the north, while an entrance from the south is already in the design.

In a letter to the DDA, Rockford Development COO Kurt Hassberger wrote that the bank intends to purchase the southern portion of the property from CSL West and that bank officials and the developers were close to signing the sales document. But not getting the easement might result in the deal falling through.

“They are very concerned about what the development of the rest of the block will look like and want to make sure that there is ingress and egress to the north,” he wrote.

The DDA gave CSL West the easement, but under the condition that the firm agrees with the appraised value of the property that makes up the easement. The catch, or red tape, is that the appraisal isn’t done, so the land’s value isn’t known.

“When the appraisal comes back that will tell us the value of the easement,” said Jay Fowler, DDA executive director.

The DDA decided last month to have the parking lot appraised with and without the easement parcel.

“We may not grant the easement if we don’t get the value for it,” said DDA member Thomas Wesholski.

In his letter, however, Hassberger reminded the DDA that CSL West paid the full option price for the lot up front and let the city continue to use the undeveloped portions of the lot for public parking — and keep all the revenue.

“That concession was intended to be part of the compensation for the additional land,” wrote Hassberger.

“Depending on what the appraisal shows, we believe that the parking revenues will probably exceed the value of the easement,” he added.

It’s expected that the appraisal will be done by the board’s March meeting.

In January, CSL West offered $75,000, or $27 a square foot, for the parcel that makes up the easement. But the DDA felt that a figure closer to $40 a foot, or about $115,000, was the going rate for that downtown parcel. The easement is roughly 2,900 square feet.

As for the easement itself, Fowler said its use wouldn’t change.

“The walkways will still be there,” he said. “The property will still have its current use.”    

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