Construction, Economic Development, and Real Estate

Downtown building sees $3.5M renovation

April 9, 2015
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Downtown building sees $3.5M renovation
The Cornerstone building stands in downtown Grand Rapids on Ionia Avenue NW at Fountain Street NW. Courtesy DDA

A building in downtown Grand Rapids is about to get a makeover.

In conjunction with its Morton House redevelopment project, Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction will renovate the Cornerstone building, located at 89 Ionia Ave. NW.

Rockford said the enhancements are part of a “full-scale building renovation aimed to increase occupancy and capitalize on the new energy being brought to the block through the Morton redevelopment,” according to Downtown Development Authority, or DDA, records.

Construction on the estimated $3.5-million project is expected to begin immediately and be completed by late summer.

Rockford expects 70 jobs will be created through the renovation and additional building tenants.

The building is owned by 89 Ionia Partners, LLC, which is owned by Rockford and RDV, or Rich DeVos, Corporation.


The proposed renovations within the public realm include capping of an existing areaway, new brickwork and snowmelt.

Additional renovations to the building will include improvements to its façade, fire-suppression system and a new elevator.

Mike Mraz, Rockford Construction partner, real estate development, noted the portion of the sidewalk being targeted for improvement has “not been pedestrian friendly.”

The hope is improvements will make the area more walkable, connect it to the existing nearby retail corridor and activate the building’s ground floor — possibly through the attraction of a restaurant or retail tenant.

“We feel that the pedestrian-friendly streetscape will draw more people along Ionia to the Monroe Center corridor,” Mraz said.


The building is home to two tenants, Legal Aid of Western Michigan and Kendall College of Art and Design.

Mraz said the renovation has already attracted a new office tenant that wasn't in the downtown area.

The tenant is leasing the building’s entire sixth floor, which is approximately 6,300 square feet and will bring more than 30 employees to downtown.


Rockford Construction has asked for several reimbursements through the DDA’s Areaway, Building Reuse and Streetscape Incentive Programs for the building's enhancements.

The project is eligible for $856,980 in DDA support.

The DDA has approved a $35,000 SIIP reimbursement, a $35,000 ARIP reimbursement and a $50,000 BRIP reimbursement for the property.

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