Kent County halts downtown office, capital improvement plans MIBIZ FILE PHOTO

Kent County halts downtown office, capital improvement plans

BY Monday, April 27, 2020 04:16pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County officials have halted plans to consider selling a downtown office building as well as $18.7 million in building projects because of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since at least 2015, county officials have considered plans involving a county-owned facility at 82 Ionia Ave., which is located in a downtown Grand Rapids business district and includes parking. Occupants of the building include the county Prosecutor’s Office as well as Friend of the Court. The county was considering options for moving those departments to a separate location in order to sell the 82 Ionia building to a private developer.

Those options were to get further consideration during April and May, but “things are kind of locked up now,” Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt told MiBiz.

“Those projects right now are on hold as a result of the COVID-19 situation,” Britt said. “It’s tied to a bigger plan for how we want to economize and become more efficient from a space standpoint.”

One option includes moving county employees to an existing county building at 320 Ottawa Ave. NW, which houses the county’s I.T. department. Moving employees there would require adding floors to the building.

Meanwhile, three capital improvement projects nearing $18.7 million are also on hold, Britt said. The Kent County Board of Commissioners approved the funding on Jan. 23. The projects are:

  • $12.5 million for a new North County Campus at 17 Mile Road near US-131. Conceptual plans include a substation for the Sheriff’s Office and a Health Department clinic.
  • $2.68 million for a permanent Parks Department office.
  • $3.5 million for a vehicle fleet building at the county’s Fuller campus.

Britt said the funding is still budgeted for these projects.

“Those dollars are going to stay there until we’ve gotten through this and we understand how these costs are going to affect the bottom line,” he said.

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