Mid Towne Might Get Bigger

November 23, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The biggest building in the city’s largest medical office development could get bigger in a few weeks, if city commissioners approve the revised blueprint for the Women’s Health Center of West Michigan.

The health center is one of six structures in the Mid Towne Village project that is being built on six northeast side acres bounded by Michigan and Union streets, Paris Avenue, and the I-196 highway. Initially approved by the city at four stories and 75,000 square feet of space, the building’s modified plan calls for seven stories with nearly 92,000 square feet.

The new square footage contains two stories of parking with 385 total spaces and another level of office space. The revised health center will be 88 feet high, a height normally too tall for a commercial building located near a residential neighborhood.

But the Midtown Neighborhood Association expressed its support for the taller building at a hearing held last month by the city’s Planning Commission. Planning commissioners unanimously ratified the proposed changes and then recommended that city commissioners do the same. The Planning Department didn’t feel another public hearing was necessary.

“They went through planning without any issues,” said 2nd Ward Commissioner Lynn Rabaut.

The Village will have a total of 226,600 square feet in the six buildings, if commissioners OK the new blueprint. Most of that space is reserved for medical offices. But the Village will also offer residential units, retail space and parking.

Mid Towne Village LLC is developing the project. Pioneer Construction is the general contractor. Cornerstone Architects designed the development. S.J. Wisinski & Co. is marketing the space. National City Bank provided the project’s financing.

Commissioners will review the health center’s new plan Dec. 6.

Then seven days later, commissioners will hold a public hearing and decide whether to amend a brownfield designation that was awarded to Second Story Properties for its plan to turn the former YMCA at 33 Library NW into a residential building called The Fitzgerald.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. requested the change because the state agency said that only local tax dollars, and not state tax revenue, can be used to reimburse Second Story for the improvements it plans to make to the city-owned Veterans Park that sits across Library from the building. The park upgrades are worth $747,500 in tax increment reimbursements to Second Story.

City Economic Development Director Susan Shannon said it would take five years longer to repay Second Story and cost an additional $200,000 in interest charges, if commissioners amend the brownfield Dec. 13.

But state money can be used to repay Second Story $757,000 for the demolition work and site preparation it will do to the 90-year-old building that will house 50 condominiums when the project is completed. Second Story, which is headed by Sam Cummings and John Green, is investing $13.8 million in the project.    

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