Kent County to revisit sale of 82 Ionia building, assess funding other projects Photo by: Joe Boomgaard

Kent County to revisit sale of 82 Ionia building, assess funding other projects

BY Friday, July 19, 2019 08:54am

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County commissioners will again discuss what to do with a county-owned office building in downtown Grand Rapids, as well as other building projects, as it decides what to fund in the next few years.

The county last assessed the possibilities for the building at 82 Ionia Avenue NW in 2017 when it assembled a subcommittee of staff and commissioners to examine the positives and negatives associated with potentially selling off the 108,000-square-foot building.

During a recent study session, commissioners heard about three projects “ready to commence in the near future,” according to Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt, and will focus on 82 Ionia at the next study session later this month.

The county is working with Grand Rapids-based Progressive AE Inc. on what could become of the 82 Ionia building. The county has weighed possibly selling the building after it commissioned a space needs study in 2015 by Progressive AE. The study suggested the facility, situated in the middle of downtown with onsite parking, should be vacated and sold to private developers.

The county could come up with a solution that better fits its space needs, Britt explained, including building up its 320 Ottawa NW building to house more offices, or construct another building at its Fuller campus. 

At the same session, commissioners will come to a consensus on three projects they could fund in the next few years, including new parks offices, a north Kent County service center and the replacement of its fleet services building.

Currently, some employees in the Kent County Parks Department work out of two trailers the county purchased in 2002, said Assistant County Administrator Matt VanZetten. He added the buildings have dry rot, leaking roofs and are too small.

“It’s tired, it’s old, it’s lived past its useful life,” VanZetten said.

The county could fund new parks offices at the parks department at 1700 Butterworth Street SW. 

Commissioners also discussed funding a visitor center for Millenium Park that includes wayfinding and a possible collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for an outdoor adventure center. 

The estimated budget would be capped at $2 million, and the project would take 12 months to complete.

Commissioners also are weighing building a northern Kent County service center on a 14-acre parcel at 4233 17 Mile Road NE that would include a sheriff department substation, health department clinic and space for more services the county offers.

“Getting a campus up there to function out of would be a good amenity for the community we serve,” VanZetten said. 

Officials estimate a 2022 completion if commissioners approve the project. An estimated cost has not yet been determined.

Another project commissioners could fund is the replacement of the fleet services building at the county’s Fuller campus, which could cost $3 million and take 18-24 months.

In the past several years, the county has been setting aside funds to help defray the costs of extraordinary capital improvements, which could help fund the facilities projects. To date, the county has set aside about $9 million, according to Britt.

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