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Developer proposes 8-story building in downtown GR historic district COURTESY RENDERING

Developer proposes 8-story building in downtown GR historic district

BY Friday, April 28, 2017 10:42am

GRAND RAPIDS — Developers continue to eye the Heartside neighborhood of downtown Grand Rapids for new construction.

Developer Joe Niewiek has filed paperwork with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) seeking an advisory discussion over a proposal for a new eight-story building at 11 Cherry St. SW, just west of Division Avenue.

Niewiek’s proposal includes partial demolition of a 1950s-era building that he owns at 139 South Division Ave., adjacent to the public Pekich Park at the northwest corner of Division and Cherry.

The developer told MiBiz in an email Friday morning that the building would contain a mix of uses, but declined further comment, pending completion of the May 3 meeting.

While that meeting will be purely advisory — the HPC will make no formal approval or denial of the project — commission members will offer advice on topics related to massing and the scale of the proposed building, according to documents filed with the city.

Renderings of the building included in the city documents show the first two floors being primarily glass. It includes a pass-through entryway to access the current parking lot behind the row of buildings along the west side of Division Avenue.

New construction in the Heartside area along Division Avenue has come in fits and starts in recent years.

Plans for a 12-story office tower at the southwest corner of Division Avenue and Weston Street one block north fizzled last year after the developer was unable to attract enough tenants to move forward with construction.

Ann Arbor-based housing developer LC Companies Inc. now hopes to obtain Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and build affordable housing on the site.

Directly across the street from Niewiek’s proposed building, however, developer Karl Chew of Midland-based Brookstone Capital LLC built a six-story, mixed-income apartment building, which the HPC reportedly approved in 2011.

City documents note that because of the grade issues along Cherry Street, some taller buildings could be allowed.

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