CWD Real Estate Investment plans eight-story building downtown


An initial rendering of the eight-story building planned for a parking lot adjacent the Trade Center Building at 50 Louis St. NW. Courtesy CWD Real Estate Investment

CWD Real Estate Investment plans to purchase a downtown parking lot and possibly develop it into an eight-story building that will connect to the company’s adjacent property, the Trade Center Building at 50 Louis St. NW.

CWD is expected to invest at least $15 million into development of the property and will construct a minimum of 75,000 square feet within three years of the closing of the development agreement.

Sam Cummings, principal and managing partner of CWD, brought pre-schematic designs of the proposed building to last week’s Parking Commission meeting, which was part of the request for proposal additionally sought by the Parking Commission.

“What is shown is an eight-story building,” said Cummings of the designs. “The footprint of the site is a little over 20,000 square feet. The challenge is that the site also provides ingress and egress to and from the Ottawa/Fulton ramp. So we’ve got to bridge that, and we’ve got to maximize the footprint above grade.”

Cummings said the possible solutions right now would be to get an easement or air rights over the property.

“While the footprint is 21,000 square feet, we can only yield about 6,200 square feet of ground-floor retail,” Cummings said. “On the remaining seven floors, we have the opportunity of about 16,000 square feet gross, which will translate into 14,000 square feet per floor of useable square footage, with a total gross square footage of 127,000.”

The Parking Commission has sent a three-year option agreement for the 17 space, metered parking lot — bordered by Fulton, Ionia, Ottawa and Louis streets on the northeast corner of the block — to the Grand Rapids City Commission.

The option agreement includes two renewal opportunities following the first year. The initial option price is set at $15,000, with $20,000 for the successive renewals.

Parking Services will continue to operate the surface lot during the option period.

“It’s a great high-visibility site,” Cummings said. “One of our (goals) for the coming next 10 years is to try to fill in some of these holes in our city. To try and fill in some of these surface parking lots. We are dedicated to figuring out how to do that.”

CWD Real Estate Invesment also plans to connect the 50 Louis Building to the new building.

“Part of the attractiveness of this site for us, and one of the reasons we pursued the option, is that we own the building next door,” Cummings said. “We are in the process of starting a pretty significant restoration/renovation of that building, and the opportunity is to share some vertical circulation and, if not, potentially connect the buildings.”

Cummings also said that the new construction project is more affordable, because the 50 Louis Building creates the potential for a larger footprint.

“Having the 50 Louis Building and the opportunity to connect floors or have some shared services gives us a greater opportunity,” he said.

CWD already is working with the city on plans to connect 50 Louis to the Ottawa/Fulton ramp.

“We’ve positioned the connection to the ramp in the northwest corner of 50 Louis, so, in the event that we are able to connect the new building to 50 Louis, we could do it partially at a point that it could share that lobby. Then we don’t have to make another connection to the Ottawa/Fulton ramp, we can use the existing 50 Louis one.”

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