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Sunday, 15 February 2015 22:00

Pair of proposed new projects drives development activity in Grand Rapids

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A joint venture of Clark Construction Co. and Rockford Construction will oversee the building of the $83.1 million Biomedical Research Center Michigan State University proposed for the former Grand Rapids Press property on Michigan Street in Grand Rapids. A joint venture of Clark Construction Co. and Rockford Construction will oversee the building of the $83.1 million Biomedical Research Center Michigan State University proposed for the former Grand Rapids Press property on Michigan Street in Grand Rapids. COURTESY RENDERING

The recent announcements of a proposed speculative office tower and the unveiling of plans for Michigan State University’s long-anticipated Biomedical Research Center in Grand Rapids point to heightened demand for modern facilities in the city’s central business district.

The developers of Twelve Weston, which includes the Secchia family holding company Sibsco LLC, hope to tap into a growing need for Class A office space in the central city with a new 12-story building at the corner of Weston Street and Division Avenue.

Meanwhile, MSU debuted its plans for a 160,000-square-foot, four-story research center to be built on the former Grand Rapids Press property at Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue.

“Both projects are exciting for the downtown area,” said Kara Wood, economic development director for the City of Grand Rapids, adding that MSU’s proposed building should bring in a large number of research grants to the city.

While the total investment for the Twelve Weston project remains unknown, MSU’s proposed building at the northeast corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue is expected to cost $85.1 million, plus $3 million to demolish the former Grand Rapids Press building at the site. Demolition is expected to begin as early as next month, Vennie Gore, MSU’s vice president of auxiliary services, said at the board meeting to approve the project budget. The research center is slated for completion in June 2017.

MSU’s College of Human Medicine currently leases space in the nearby Van Andel Institute (VAI). Documents supplied by MSU state that the university must vacate its space in VAI by 2017, roughly the same time the new research facility is expected to open.

Jerry Callahan, vice president of business development and strategic projects for VAI, told MiBiz that the university will maintain a presence in the facility through 2019 as part of a separate lease.

The vacated space isn’t likely to sit unused for long, as VAI has “aggressive hiring plans” and intends to add additional staff to ramp up research being done at the facility once MSU’s lease is up, Callahan said.

The area at the base of the Michigan Street hill where MSU plans its new facility has been a hub of development activity in recent months. The facility will sit across the street from the former Olds Manor, where CWD Real Estate Development announced plans in December for a mixed-use redevelopment. The $22 million to $26 million project will feature street-level retail or restaurant space and 77 market-rate apartments.

There’s also opportunity for additional development on the MSU property, as the new research center will only occupy about half of the 4.3-acre site. MSU plans to begin engaging the development community in the spring about ancillary projects for the parcel, Gore told MiBiz.

MSU’s new facility is being designed by Detroit-based SmithGroupJJR, while construction will be overseen by a joint venture of Lansing-based Clark Construction Co. and Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction Co. Inc.

Rockford is also a partner in the new Twelve Weston project. Lead tenants of the office building were not immediately clear, nor was a specific construction timeline.

Wood, the city’s economic development director, said that the emergence of a new office building in downtown could help solidify GR Forward, the city’s work-in-progress downtown master plan, as it showcases the demand for companies to be located in the central business district.

The building’s proposed height of 142 feet remains the largest uncertainty. In an early February Historic Preservation Committee meeting, officials expressed concern over the proposed 12-story building, despite it being in line with other newer developments such as 38 Commerce and The Gallery on Fulton nearby.

Sources said it is likely the proposed building will need to appear before Historic Preservation Committee at least one or two more times to finalize the design before going for final city approvals. 

Read 6573 times Last modified on Sunday, 15 February 2015 16:20