Downtown landmarks oversee $7.29M in renovations


The Michigan Trust Company Building in downtown Grand Rapids is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo via

Grand Rapids’ first skyscraper is getting renovated.

Michigan Trust Company Building

The Michigan Trust Company Building downtown, at 40 Pearl St. NW, opened in 1892, and when it did, it was strictly office space, standing 11 stories and 154-feet tall.

Today, the Trust ranks No. 13 on the city’s “tallest” list and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

CWD Real Estate Investment, which bought the foreclosed structure in late December, plans to historically rehab the building’s exterior and modernize the lobby and its numerous office suites.

“We are committed to restoring it to its prior glory,” said Nick Koster, CWD vice president of operations.

The firm will also repair and replace the two areaway caps and the sidewalks along Pearl Street and Ottawa Avenue.

CWD is spending $2.6 million on the project.

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority pitched in recently to help finance the work. The board awarded CWD a $50,000 building reuse grant for the façade restoration and a $35,000 grant for the streetscape work.

Then the DDA agreed to reimburse CWD up to $236,500 for the sidewalk improvements it will make. Those dollars will come from the tax-increment revenue the completed project will generate. The building’s 2013 taxable value is $3.4 million, according to Kent County property records.

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Trade Center Building

CWD is also renovating the Trade Center Building downtown, at 50 Louis St. NW, by investing $4.1 million into exterior and interior work for the seven-story structure that opened in 1896.

The DDA also supported that project with a $75,000 building reuse grant and a reimbursement of up to $391,000.

“We are committed to the core city,” Koster said.

Work is being done on another downtown office address.

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Republic Bank Building

Midtown Investment Trust is readying the vacant second floor of the former Republic Bank Building, at 141 Ionia Ave. NW, for new tenants.

The work marks the firm’s second renovation stage, and the plan is to return the floor to “white box” status.

“We have, indeed, moved ahead with the second-floor renovation,” said Michael Ellis, principal in Midtown Investment Trust and Ellis Parking Co.

The DDA recently awarded the project a second $25,000 building reuse grant, funds that will be used to help make the second floor ADA compliant and install a new fire-suppression system.

The board gave the project its first grant in January 2012 for similar work to the first floor, where First National Bank of Michigan moved into about a year ago.

Midtown Investment Trust is spending $590,000 on the total renovation.

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