City Aids Windquest GR Project

July 13, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — A $10 million renovation of the River City Building to be done by the Windquest Group, a management firm owned by Dick DeVos, received support last week from the Downtown Development Authority and the City Commission.

The 4,640-square-foot, seven-story building at 201 Monroe Ave. NW, next door to DeVos Place, is going to be completely made over.

“We’re going to have Class A office space on floors 3, 4, 5 and 6, and a residential condominium on the 7th floor,” said Allan Hoekstra, finance and operations director for the Windquest Group.

A restaurant, banquet room and meeting facilities will fill the basement and the first two floors.

“It will be an entire restoration when we’re done,” said Hoekstra.

DDA members agreed last week to let the Windquest Group, doing business as 201 Monroe Avenue LLC for the project, capture up to $504,500 in tax reimbursements for the next 10 years. The funds will come from tax-increment revenues the renovated building will generate over that period. The reimbursement process is set to begin in 2010 and the annual reimbursements are expected to range from $41,000 to $50,600.

The project qualified for DDA assistance because the extensive work involves making improvements to the public sidewalk, adding a snowmelt system and making the building ADA accessible, which includes installing a new elevator.

“The new elevator will actually be tied into the convention center,” said Jay Fowler, DDA executive director.

Hoekstra said the work also involves a complete demolition of the interior, the removal of asbestos and other harmful materials, new HVAC and electrical systems, a new stairs tower on the building’s west side, new windows, and a full cleaning of the exterior.

City commissioners approved a brownfield last week for the project that allows the Windquest Group to apply for a $2 million Michigan Business Tax credit. Because the building is in the DDA district, the developer can’t capture brownfield reimbursements.

Economic Development Director Kara Wood said the Windquest Group would create the equivalent of 48 new full-time jobs with an average hourly rate of $20 from the project. She also said the company plans to lease space on the office floors, and the 7th floor condo will be 3,500 square feet.

Commissioners also approved last week a brownfield for Lighthouse Communities Inc. and an obsolete property tax exemption for Levco State Street LLC.

Lighthouse Communities plans to renovate a vacant building at 1167 Madison Ave. SE into a neighborhood retail and service center that will include a business incubator and a business and technology center. There will be space for retail and a restaurant on the first floor; Lighthouse Communities will have its offices on the second floor. The project is expected to cost $1.3 million and create 16 new permanent jobs.

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