Developers plan rooftop bar downtown


The Waters Building will include a 100-room, extended-stay hotel when completed late next year or early in 2016. Photo by Chris Pastotnik

As part of its redevelopment, a historic downtown building may include a roof deck and bar for hotel guest use.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission will be considering a Special Land Use application and written request submitted on July 24 by William Mast, president of Visser Brothers and manager of Waters Building LLC, and Mark D. Finkelstein, of Edmark Development and manager of Waters Building LLC, to build a roof deck and bar on the south tower of the Waters Building at 161 Ottawa Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids.

The proposal

The roof deck and bar proposal would be used as an amenity of the Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel featured in the redevelopment of the roughly 290,000-square-foot, 117-year-old building. Mast indicated in the written submission to the city of Grand Rapids Planning Department a roof deck and bar was influential during the application process with Hilton.

“The hotel wishes to have the roof deck serve as an attractive amenity for its guests to enjoy,” Mast and Finkelstein indicated in the written submission. “Our owner/operator partners believe this feature will be a key component driving new and repeat business to the hotel.”

The Waters Building already received approval to construct a non-staffed deck on the north tower for office, retail and apartment tenants to use, and the hotel has received a liquor license from the state of Michigan, according to the application.

While the deck itself and the sale of alcohol on its own do not require approval from the city planning commission, Mast indicated it is the combination of the two features that requires the Special Land Use request.

The proposal also includes a request to provide live music and the opportunity for guests to reserve the roof deck for different functions, such as bridal showers, reunions and company outings.

“We feel the redevelopment of the Waters Building, including the opening of the Hilton Homewood Suites Hotel with its staffed roof deck, will improve the Waters Building and enhance the building’s impact on the city of Grand Rapids and the public experience,” stated Mast and Finkelstein. “It is our hope the Waters Building will soon return to its historical role as an integral part of downtown Grand Rapids.”

Waters Building background

The Waters Building was purchased in February 2014 by Visser Brothers and Edmark Development through their partnership company known as Waters Building LLC. The LLC purchased the historic building, which was previously owned by Three Oaks Group LLC from 2006 until 2012, for approximately $12.75 million.

The historic structure will be renovated into a mixed-use building, which will feature nearly 100,000 square feet for the Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel and roughly 50,000 square feet for 42 apartment units. Redevelopment plans also include space for offices and retail businesses. The building design has the office space and two floors of apartments in the north tower, while the hotel units will be in the south tower.

Visser Brothers is completing the construction, while Concept Design Group will serve as architect.

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