Grandville DDA Sells Downtown Corner Lot

September 21, 2007
| By Pete Daly |
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GRANDVILLE — Downtown Grandville should be looking better by next spring, with the sale of a corner lot on the Wilson Avenue/Chicago Drive intersection by the city's Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Three companies have partnered to purchase the lot on the northwest corner, 4005 Chicago Drive SW, for $60,000. Terms of the sale require the buyers to remove the building that housed a vacuum cleaner business and erect a new one, within parameters set by the DDA. They must also set aside a portion of the rear of the property for five new public parking spaces.

The building has been unusable since part of the roof collapsed about a year ago. The Grandville DDA bought the property last spring from the Joyce Sharda Trust for $150,000, according to Matthew Butts, assistant city manager of Grandville.

The new building on the site will "establish the benchmark for downtown Grandville," said Joe Grocholwalski, an architect and principal of Omega Design Services, and one of the three partners buying the property. The others are Jack Brown of JKB & Associates, a general contractor; and John Najar of Edmark Development, a real estate development firm.

According to Brown, the three men are forming a company that will own the new building. He said the name of the new company isn't definite yet but may be the initials JJJ, "for Joe, Jack and John."

Grocholwalski said the partners hope to open the new commercial building by spring. He said they plan to invest approximately $750,000 in a two-story brick structure of about 9,500 square feet. Their plan is to lease the ground floor to a retail business or businesses. Part of the second floor will be office space for lease, and the remaining second-floor space will be occupied by Omega Design, which has been located nearby on 28th Street for about 21 years.

Rick Bolhouse, chairman of the Grandville DDA, said the increased taxable value of the property after the project is completed will, over time, make up for the disparity between the $60,000 sale price and the DDA's initial $150,000 cost of acquiring the property. The Grandville DDA, which is a Tax Increment Financing Authority under state law, will be the recipient of part of the increased tax revenues from the site.

The DDA has stipulated that the new building must be two-story brick and will also have a say in other architectural features.

Bolhouse said that, according to estimates, the cost to demolish the existing structure alone might be $30,000 to $40,000, and the partners are also relinquishing part of the property for public parking spaces. He also noted that the partnership "will have the DDA looking over their shoulder."

"The DDA is interested in controlling the project that goes in there," said Bolhouse, adding that "it is a critical corner" and the new development there will be "a benchmark for the downtown in the future."

"We are definitely competing with (the retail) growth south of here," said Bolhouse, making reference to the new mall and other extensive retail development that has taken place on the south side of Grandville in the last few years.

Grocholwalski said Omega Design Services plans to occupy the new building (which he is designing) because "we're in an expansion mode right now." The staff includes two architects and five other full-time employees.

Omega is a relatively small architectural firm, according to Grocholwalski. It is a growing company, however, with projects throughout West Michigan, plus a few in Florida and New Mexico. Grocholwalski has owned the company since 1996.

One of the largest Omega Design Services projects in West Michigan was the Moss Ridge Golf Course club house in Ravenna. The company also designed the Reformed Baptist Church in northeast Grand Rapids, and recently began working on a new residential group home for David's House Ministries.

Grocholwalski said this is Omega's first project involving the Grandville DDA, but he noted that he and his other partners in the 4005 Chicago Drive project also renovated the round building further east on Chicago Drive that formerly housed a Fifth Third Bank branch. That building now houses a Subway sandwich shop and a Beaner's Gourmet Coffee shop.

Brown said the old building at 4005 Chicago Drive should be down by mid-October and the new one up by the end of April.

Other projects that JKB & Associates have recently been involved in include Stanaback Park for the city of Kentwood, and the Lincoln Brick & Stone building on Broadmoor SE.    

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