Economic Development, Government, and Real Estate

Kent County receives bids for downtown building

September 3, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Kent County requests bids for downtown building
The building at 82 Ionia Ave. NW in Grand Rapids is in the heart of downtown, at Fountain Street NW. Courtesy Kent County

Several organizations have responded to Kent County’s call for proposals for a downtown building.

In June, the county said it will accept bids on 82 Ionia Ave. NW. Last week, the county announced it has received three bids, including a $10-million cash bid.

The building has frontage on Fountain Street NW and Ionia and Division avenues.

The space also includes the parking structure at 78 Ionia Ave. NW.

The decision to sell the property will come later this fall by the Kent County Board of Commissioners.

“We will evaluate the proposals based on the recommendations identified in the Space Needs Study,” Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio said. “We are looking forward to the next steps."

Originally built in 1932, Kent County began leasing the building in 1998 and purchased it in 2005.

The building is 65 percent occupied with several county departments housed within, including Friend of the Court, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Circuit Court Probation and Community Housing and Development.

Kendall College

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, or KCAD, is offering a $10-million cash deal to Kent County.

KCAD says the cash deal would allow for an earlier closing date than with a financing contingency. The proposal also offers a flexible date for the county to vacate the property.

The proposal cites KCAD's transformation of the nearby Federal Building into the Ferris Building and the UICA in downtown becoming part of KCAD.

“We believe we have demonstrated over the years that we are a vibrant and thriving educational institution with a growing presence in and commitment to the downtown area,” the proposal says. “We believe 82 Ionia will be an important part of our continuing expansion and be a natural complement to our current facilities.”

KCAD does not specify a use for the building, but it ensures “the concepts we are considering would all be very consistent with our desire to be an anchor in downtown Grand Rapids and a growing part of the West Michigan community.”

Franklin Partners

The Naperville, Ill.-based developer Franklin Partners, which has a Grand Rapids office, is offering the county $6.8 million.

Included in the proposal is a seller 12-month lease, with two six-month extension options at $12 triple net rate.

The Embassy Group

Kent County also received a proposal from a New York investment firm.

The Embassy Group is offering $6.5 million, with an offer to the county to remain in the building rent-free for 12 months.

The lack of rent is cited in Marcus & Millichap realtor Michael Cagen’s letter as the reason for the relatively lower bid.

“You may have received offers with a higher dollar value, but that price may be an illusion, since it’s the net price which will impact your bottom line,” the letter reads. “This allows you to move in an orderly fashion without the added monthly expense of rent.”

Cagen writes the group would expect apartments, “which will add to the vibrancy of downtown Grand Rapids, while at the same time is amenable to incorporating mixed-use components for the main floor.”

The Embassy Group recently acquired The Lofts @ 5 Lyon in downtown.

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