Developer signs option to buy vacant seven-story building downtown


The seven-story Keeler building in downtown Grand Rapids sits on Division Avenue N at Fountain Street NE. Courtesy Colliers

A vacant, seven-story building downtown is slated for a major remodel.

Franklin Partners has signed an option to acquire the 101-year-old Keeler Building in Grand Rapids, at 56 Division Ave. N, from Arath III, Inc. and has begun preliminary stages of redevelopment.

The developer expects to invest at least $10 million into the property.

“We’ve been pursuing this property for six months,” said Don Shoemaker, principal, Franklin Partners. “It took a while to come to an agreement, but we’re excited.”

The 167,706-square-foot building has been mostly vacant for 20 years, Shoemaker said.

He said the redevelopment of the Keeler Building will be unique in that nearly everything in the space needs to be re-done.

“It will basically be a new building in an old structure,” he said. “It’s really in need of new everything.”

Franklin Partners likes to rehab older buildings such as the Keeler Building, as it gives them an opportunity to bring large office tenants downtown, such as Spectrum Health at 25 Ottawa and KPMG at 99 Monroe.

He also said the first floor of the building has excellent retail potential, because of the influx of downtown residents and students in recent years.

He said early designs could look at residential space in the upper floors, but it most likely will be focused on office space.

Shoemaker hopes to get the project off the ground in the next two to three months.

“In a perfect world, we’ll sign a tenant right away and get started,” he said. “We’re not one to sit on a project.”

Shoemaker added that both 25 Ottawa and 99 Monroe are 100 percent leased.

“It’s a fun time to be in Grand Rapids,” he said.

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