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Former UICA building in downtown Grand Rapids listed for $8.7M COURTESY PHOTO

Former UICA building in downtown Grand Rapids listed for $8.7M

BY Tuesday, December 08, 2020 04:06pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The former Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts building in downtown Grand Rapids is officially on the market for $8.7 million.

The four-floor, 39,418-square-foot building at 2 Fulton St. SW was constructed in 2010 and includes 3,000 square feet of common space including a bar area, a 1,000-square-foot art studio and a 195-seat movie theater, according to an announcement by commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle IP Inc. (JLL), which is listing the property. 

“This property features modern architecture, inside and out, that truly makes it stand out against other buildings in the urban core,” JLL Senior Vice President Jeff Karger told MiBiz. “Opportunities to own an asset of this quality in downtown Grand Rapids do not come on the market very often.”

The building was constructed to serve the unique purposes of the UICA. The Ferris State University board of trustees finalized a decision in June to move UICA operations to the Woodbridge N. Ferris building at 17 Pearl St., which is on the campus of Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD).

Karger said the best use for the former UICA property would be a similar institution or entertainment venue, though the site has potential for office space.

“UICA has made the most of this incredible space, furthering a legacy of cultural enrichment and creative community building through forward-thinking exhibitions, inclusive programming and vital support of our region’s artists and makers,” Kendall College President Tara McCrackin said in a statement. “As we pursue new opportunities to more closely integrate UICA into the KCAD campus, we look forward to seeing what’s next for this dynamic space in the heart of our city.”

The UICA is among several downtown entertainment businesses that have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more venues could potentially end up on the market soon, Karger said. 

The owners of 20 Monroe Live concert venue space and The B.O.B. are also looking to sell their downtown facilities, as MiBiz previously reported. The 20 Monroe venue was listed for $16.5 million on Nov. 17, and includes the option to purchase The B.O.B. property — listed at $15.5 million — as a package deal.

Ferris State officials said in the spring that relocating from the space was caused by the negative financial effects of COVID-19 and related shutdowns. The space included a movie theater, which was closed since mid-March. 

The UICA took on a heavy debt load from the onset, buying the $8 million building just as the Great Recession hit. The UICA was initially a nonprofit, but the organization restructured its operations and merged with Kendall College in 2013. The merger helped the organization gain financial footing and manage its $3.9 million in debt, which decreased to $1 million at the time of the merger with the help from donors.

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