City puts option on riverfront property


The Kent County Road Commission voted to authorize an option agreement for the city of Grand Rapids to purchase real estate owned by the commission during a Jan. 28 meeting.

Under the option, the city will have the exclusive right for 12 months to purchase KCRC’s central complex property, located along 1500 Scribner Ave. NW and 1600, 1632 and 1660 Turner Ave. NW in Grand Rapids. 

During the 12-month period, the city is expected to run a due diligence review of the central complex to determine if the property is acceptable and suitable for the city’s intended use. By the end of the 12-month term, the city must either exercise the exclusive right to purchase or allow the option to lapse and terminate.

The negotiated purchase price for the central complex is $7,750,000 with a closing date of no later than September 2022. The option also requires approval from the Grand Rapids City Commission, which it will review Feb. 11.

According to a statement from the city, the possible purchase of the property could serve as a key piece to its redevelopment goals and possibly allow the city to relocate a significant portion of operations at 201 Market St. SW to the central complex.

“This property has 1,100 linear feet of river frontage and is near the site of a proposed barrier that is an important piece of the river restoration project,” the city’s statement read. “We look forward to spending the next 12 months evaluating this property to ensure it meets our current and future needs.”

Built in 1924, the central complex property resides on 14.2 acres along the Grand River just north of Webster Street, adjacent to U.S. 131, and includes over 130,000 square feet of various building space. 

The property is bordered by two city streets, the Grand Rapids Eastern Railroad and the Grand River. Because of these borders, the property is landlocked and lacks the capacity for KCRC’s needed expansion of garage and storage facilities. 

KCRC purchased a 29-acre parcel in the Walker View Industrial Park in 2016 with the expectation to move operations there by 2021. The Walker View property provides a centralized location, easy access to state trunk lines and the required room to expand.

“Every decision we make is directed by our strategic plan and objectives,” said Steve Warren, KCRC’s managing director. “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. We have a plan in place to accommodate these changing variables with a sound financial strategy to support it.” 

The agreement with the city comes about a year after KCRC initially published a notice of sale for the property, in which the city was identified among a list of “known potential buyers” but did not make a proposal at the time.

The Kent County Road Commission voted unanimously to reject the singular proposal, made by 2722 Vassar LLC registered to Christopher Weller, to purchase the central complex early in 2019, according to an earlier Business Journal report.

Based on an evaluation of the proposal, road commission staff determined the net consideration to be received did not match KCRC’s opinion of the value of the property and would be insufficient to satisfy KCRC’s current financial model for the potential construction of a new central complex at the Walker View Industrial Park property KCRC purchased in 2016.

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