GRAND RAPIDS — Wheeler Development Group has proposed transforming a city-owned parking lot into a $55 million 24-story tower in downtown Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids-based firm was one of four respondents to the city’s request for proposals for the surface parking lot at the northwest corner of Fulton Street and Ionia Avenue. The Grand Rapids City Commission on Jan. 21 unanimously approved moving forward with granting Wheeler Development a one-year option to purchase the property.
“We’re excited to be in consideration of this,” Jason Wheeler, vice president of communications at Wheeler Development told MiBiz. “We look forward to tomorrow.”
According to city documents, a committee that analyzed the proposals chose Wheeler Development’s plan because “it provides the greatest opportunity to achieve all of the goals” for the site.
Wheeler Development proposed 5,215 square feet of ground-floor retail; five floors of parking; 44,000 square feet of office space over three floors; 10 floors of apartments and community space; and five floors of condominiums. The overall project includes 310,000 square feet of space.
“We just felt like it checked off boxes that the city had identified in the RFP that they would like to see on that site,” Wheeler said.
The city had been looking for options to expand the existing Fulton-Ottawa parking ramp onto the adjacent surface lot when it issued the request for proposals, as MiBiz previously reported. Wheeler Development’s building could connect with the adjacent parking ramp.
Ryan Wheeler, president of Wheeler Development Group, told MiBiz the City Commission’s approval is a “very, very preliminary” step in moving forward with the development. The approval gives Wheeler Development a one-year option to purchase the property. The firm has offered $2 million or the appraised value of the land, whichever is greater, according to city documents.
The company also indicated that between 10 percent and 20 percent of the apartments could be for people earning 80 percent of less of the area median income.
If the project moves forward, Wheeler Development anticipates beginning construction this fall, with a 28-month construction timeline. The company is working with Grand Rapids-based Integrated Architecture Inc. on the designs and Grand Rapids-based Orion Construction Co. Inc.
The proposed tower is across Ionia Street from Hinman Co.’s 13-story flatiron building project, which is currently under construction.
Other companies in the past have proposed uses for the city-owned surface parking lot. In 2013, the City Commission considered a three-year option for Grand Rapids-based CWD Real Estate Investment to purchase the property to build an 8-story, 127,500-square-foot mixed-use building. This came after the city in 2011 issued a previous request for proposals to develop the property.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to note that the Grand Rapids City Commission on Jan. 21 unanimously approved granting a one-year option on the property to Wheeler Development Group.
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