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82 Ionia 82 Ionia Photo: Joe Boomgaard

Kendall College opts out of plan to acquire Kent County-owned building

BY Monday, July 11, 2016 02:19pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A previous plan by Kendall College of Art and Design to acquire and redevelop a Kent County-owned building will not go forward.

According to a joint statement released today by the county and KCAD's parent organization Ferris State University, the university found that the building at 82 Ionia Ave. NW would not allow for the kinds of renovations needed to make the facility feasible for student housing.

"We are disappointed," Leslie Bellavance, president of Kendall College, said in a statement. "The property was well situated for use by the college, so it was my hope that these challenges could be overcome. However we remain interested in exploring other avenues to develop affordable housing for our students."

With Ferris State backing out, it is not immediately known what will happen with the county building. However, Kent County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio indicated that the county will likely look to re-issue a Request for Proposals (RFP).

"We are appreciative of the process and due diligence put forth by the FSU/KCAD team," Delabbio said in a statement. "We believe the commercial real estate market is very strong in Grand Rapids. Two other developers responded to the initial RFP and in recent months additional developers have expressed interest in the building. As a result, re-issuing the RFP would be the appropriate next step to take."

As MiBiz reported last September, the university made a cash offer of $10 million for the 104,000-square foot building. Two other developers, Naperville, Ill.-based Franklin Partners LLC and Airmont, N.Y.-based The Embassy Group Acquisitions LLC, offered $6.8 million and $6.5 million, respectively.

The county began seeking proposals last July after a study conducted by architecture firm Progressive AE found that the county was under-using the building and that the four departments housed at 82 Ionia could easily be absorbed in other county-owned facilities.

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