City May Build Another Heartside Ramp

November 6, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Parking commissioners will learn about a potential new downtown development Thursday morning that proposes to combine a pair of mixed-use projects in two buildings with a city-built parking ramp in the Heartside Business District.

The development has been pegged for

Commerce Avenue
Weston Street
, just south of
Fulton Street
and near the Van Andel Arena. Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema will tell commissioners the city is considering buying a portion of the three-quarter-acre site and building a seven-story, 360-space ramp there to support the growing business district.

Ritsema will say she has been approached by most business owners in that sector and they have expressed their support for the ramp and a need for the additional parking it would provide.

Should the project go forward, the property would cost the city $1.7 million. Parking Services would pick up nearly $1.2 million of the purchase price and the Downtown Development Authority would fund the remaining amount.

The ramp has been estimated to cost just under $11 million, a price tag that includes the land, engineering, design and construction. Construction has been targeted for October and would take two years to complete.

The property is owned by a group of investors doing business as 38 Commerce LLC and is managed by Kelwin Properties, a local development company.

A part of the ramp deal requires 38 Commerce to raze its building at its cost and then put up two structures totaling at least 68,000 square feet for office, retail and residential uses on the portion of the property the city wouldn't buy.

The city will require 38 Commerce to provide a $350,000 letter-of-credit to cover design fees for the ramp should the company not go ahead with its project and another $770,000 letter-of-credit in case the firm doesn't construct the buildings according to the development agreement.

Ritsema will tell commissioners Thursday that the new ramp will lose money in its first two years of operation, roughly $16,300 over that period, but would clear more than $6.7 million in revenue by fiscal year 2039.

The city will open its newest ramp at the corner of

Cherry Street
Commerce Avenue
, also in the Heartside Business District, later this month.     

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