DDA approves TIF reimbursement for project

A project that will restore a pair of historic buildings and bring an international hotel chain downtown was approved for TIF reimbursement by the Downtown Development Authority.

On Feb. 8, the DDA unanimously approved $894,850 doled out over 13 years in support for CWD Real Estate Investment’s $42-million rehabilitation project of the structure at 50 Monroe Ave. NW. CWD plans to split the existing structure into two separate buildings by removing a façade installed in the mid-1980s, restoring the site to its historic state.

In his presentation to the DDA, CWD Vice President of Operations Nick Koster explained the current structure was three 19th-century warehouses that had been combined into one office complex.

“Thirty years later, the design has not stood the test of time, and the building has essentially become functionally obsolete as an office project,” Koster said.

CWD plans to lease about 80,000 square feet of the west building to AHC+Hospitality for a 130-room boutique international hotel catering to business travelers while creating an approximately 96,000-square-foot loft-style office tower along Ottawa Avenue.

The newly created alleyway between the two structures will be activated as a public passageway with strung lights between the buildings and planned landscapes to further facilitate the space as a pedestrian area.

The tax capture will go toward improving public infrastructure along the site, including the addition of snow melt sidewalks, street furniture, landscaping and building façade lighting. Additionally, CWD will construct new doors, ramps and an elevator in each tower to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Construction is expected to begin this spring.

“I think it’s exciting to see these buildings being brought back,” DDA board member Kayem Dunn said. “One of the distinctive things about our downtown is some of the historic architecture, and I think this is going to be a great addition. I’m pleased to see the direction being taken.”

CWD purchased the building in 2012, and Koster said the developer has been working over the past five years to relocate tenants to other offices throughout the downtown, as the project would require the gutting and replacement of the building systems.

The last tenants to relocate are Hilco Industrial, which Koster said would be moving to the PNC Bank Building at 171 Monroe Ave., in March, and Townsquare Media, which will relocate its operations to the east building and stay as a tenant in the new office tower. Townsquare Media is expected to take nearly the entire fifth floor of the tower, about 12,000 square feet of space.

The hotel will bring about 48 full-time jobs to Grand Rapids, and Townsquare Media will retain 45 jobs in the downtown.

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