GRAND RAPIDS — One of the last major vacant buildings in downtown Grand Rapids is now under contract for redevelopment.
Franklin Partners LLC, a Naperville, Ill.-based property investment firm with two other central business district office holdings, has entered into a contract with the option to acquire the Keeler Building at 56 North Division Ave., MiBiz has learned.
The developer plans to convert the building to office space with the intention of identifying companies looking to relocate to a downtown setting, something the firm has been successful with in many of its other office developments, said Principal Don Shoemaker.
“It’s a good, solid structure and it’s all empty,” Shoemaker said. “It’s a clean footprint to start with.”
Shoemaker projects that renovating the Keeler Building will cost north of $10 million because it needs all new infrastructure such as mechanical equipment and elevators, and most likely would require some form of incentive financing.
“This will basically be a new building,” he said.
Built in 1914, the seven-story, 167,706-square-foot building became completely vacant with the December closure of its ground-floor tenant, gaming center GrandLAN LLC.
The building had fallen into disrepair in recent years, with sections of sidewalk blocked off along Fountain Street and Division Avenue after pedestrians had tripped on the crumbling walkway that resulted from an underground collapse. The incidents causing the city of Grand Rapids to sue to the building’s owner, James Azzar, according to reports.
Mark Ansara, the listing agent for the building and an associate broker in the Grand Rapids office of Colliers International, confirmed to MiBiz that the property was under option.
Franklin Partners now has approximately until mid-year to begin due diligence, put together renderings and begin shopping the building to prospective tenants, Ansara said.
While the contract is in place, the actual sale is far from a done deal, Ansara added. The option only means that Franklin Partners and Azzar have come to an agreement on an undisclosed price and terms, he said.
Franklin Partners has garnered a reputation locally for its success in renovating tired buildings in the central business district into high-amenity Class A office space. Its first acquisition, 99 Monroe, is now 100-percent leased, Shoemaker confirmed.
The company also owns 25 Ottawa, located across the street from the Van Andel Arena. That project has been fully leased to Spectrum Health and a yet-to-open restaurant called Iron.
In late 2014, the firm acquired the Display Pack Inc. building on North Monroe Avenue, but has yet to announce formal plans for the site as it awaits the existing tenant’s lease to expire. Shoemaker had previously said that the building could either be converted into office space or residential units.
Franklin Partners also owns and manages a number of industrial buildings around the region.