Published in Economic Development
Grand Rapids considers purchase of Kent County Road Commission HQ COURTESY PHOTO

Grand Rapids considers purchase of Kent County Road Commission HQ

BY MIBIZ STAFF Tuesday, January 28, 2020 01:16pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Road Commission board today approved a one-year option for the city of Grand Rapids to purchase its Central Complex located on the west bank of the Grand River. 

Under the terms of the agreement, which still requires approval of the Grand Rapids City Commission, the city will have the option to buy the 14.2-acre site for a negotiated price of $7.75 million. The city will have 12 months to perform due diligence on the property and must close on the deal no later than September 2022, according to a statement. 

The move comes after the Kent County Road Commission board rejected a previous $5 million offer in March of last year, which was submitted in response to a notice of sale the board filed at the end of 2018, as MiBiz previously reported.  

The Central Complex property is located at 1500 Scribner Ave., adjacent to U.S. 131 along the west bank of the Grand River north of downtown Grand Rapids. The property includes more than 130,000 square feet of buildings.

“This is a great opportunity to work with a long-standing municipal partner to improve our ability to serve the people of Kent County while positioning us to achieve our long-term objectives,” Kent County Road Commission board chair Mark Rambo said in a statement. 

When the Road Commission first issued the notice of sale, it identified the city as one potential buyer of the site, although the city did not submit a bid as part of the process. 

According to the Road Commission, the board did not actively market the property after rejecting the previous offer, “but remained open to discussion and potential negotiation with interested parties.”

The Central Complex location was identified as one of 15 “priority riverfront sites,” according to GR Forward, a 10-year community master plan and investment strategy for downtown Grand Rapids and the Grand River corridor. The GR Forward plan calls for the property to be a mixed-use site in the future, with “opportunities for the development of high loft and office space” close to Scribner Avenue, while allowing pedestrian access to and use of the riverfront, as MiBiz previously reported

In recent years, the Road Commission identified a need to move its operations from the landlocked Scribner Avenue site in order to expand, and in 2016 purchased a 29-acre parcel in the WalkerView Industrial Park for a possible expansion. 

“While our current Central Complex has served us well, the ongoing growth of the region and corresponding increase in demand for services and road improvements requires that we respond accordingly,” Steve Warren, managing director of the Kent County Road Commission, said in a statement. “We have a plan in place to accommodate these changing variables with a sound financial strategy to support it.”

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