GRAND RAPIDS — A veteran developer has started to outline its plans to renovate one of downtown Grand Rapids’ last vacant buildings.
Naperville, Ill.-based Franklin Partners LLC, a development and property management firm with offices in Grand Rapids, says it plans a complete internal makeover at the Keeler Building, a 102-year-old building at 56 North Division Ave. that it signed an option to acquire in January.
That will include all-new elevators, mechanical equipment and other infrastructure, said Don Shoemaker, a principal at Franklin Partners.
Because of the complete overhaul of interior infrastructure required, Shoemaker said that the renovation in some ways is simpler than other buildings the company has restored.
“There’s no debate about what you keep. Everything will be new,” Shoemaker said. “This is really a shell. It’s almost easier (to redevelop) because it’s a clean slate."
Shoemaker said he sees great opportunity for a “dramatic” lobby with approximately 17-foot-high ceilings on the ground floor, as well as street-level retail.
The six stories above that will be renovated as office space that could house up to 1,200 people one day, he said.
“We’ll be talking to all the big employers,” said Shoemaker, although he declined to say whether he had any tenants lined up.
While the developer considered including a residential component to the project, the company deemed that the floors were too thick to accommodate that use.
Franklin Partners plans to invest approximately $11 million into the project, not including tenant buildouts. Duke Suwyn, chairman and CEO in the Grand Rapids office of Colliers International, will handle marketing the Keeler building to potential tenants.
Franklin Partners is also working with the city to come up with a “parking solution” for the building, which has minimal on-site parking.
Shoemaker declined to provide any specifics of what the parking plan could entail. Grand Rapids-based Ellis Parking Co. owns a surface parking lot immediately to the south of the building at the corner of Division Avenue and Library Street.
Shoemaker declined to give the sale price of the building, citing contractual obligations.
The firm hired Concept Design Group PC, a Grand Rapids-based architecture firm, as the designer for the project. No general contractor has been selected.
Franklin Partners hopes to begin construction by early summer, and Shoemaker said he anticipates a nine-month to 12-month construction period.
The renovation of 56 Division will be Franklin Partners’ third major office renovation in the core downtown area.
Since 2012, the company has renovated and filled the buildings at 99 Monroe Ave. NW and 25 Ottawa Ave. SW.
As MiBiz reported, Franklin Partners sold those buildings in recent weeks, in part to finance the Keeler Building renovation and the planned redevelopment of the Display Pack Inc. industrial building at 1340 Monroe Ave. NW north of downtown.