Firm redevelops six-story office building downtown


Courtesy CWD Real Estate Investment

After seven years of planning and almost two years of work, a local real estate firm is nearly done redeveloping a 93,000-square-foot office building downtown.

Grand Rapids-based CWD Real Estate Investment plans to formally open 37 Ottawa, a class-A, loft-style project at 37 Ottawa Ave. NW, this month.

Each floor offers 15,500 square feet of open office space. Currently, suites from 2,000 to 30,000 square feet are available. 

While renovations are still wrapping up, CWD co-managing partner Sam Cummings said there are already active tenants.

Long-time tenant Townsquare Media is still present at 37 Ottawa, and Detroit-based office furniture dealer MarxModa confirmed it is in the building as of mid-April. CWD did not disclose any other leases.

CWD is still in search of the right tenant to occupy 7,000 square feet of restaurant space on the ground floor of the building. The restaurant space is right next to 20 Monroe Live and Van Andel Arena and includes an outdoor patio space.

The renovations preserved much of the historic building’s original look, including damage. The construction team used complementary contemporary materials to “fill in” scarred areas. Cummings said the damage helps tell the building’s history.

“When we removed the skin, we discovered that so much of the building was actually missing that we had to pivot a little,” Cummings said. “We have restored a lot of old buildings, and we made the commitment to do the best we could with what we had, given the market realities of Grand Rapids.”

The 50 Monroe/37 Ottawa building has been part of the Grand Rapids skyline for 132 years. The earliest of what was originally three buildings on the property was built in 1887 and was the location of the Grand Rapids Refrigerator Company. The company eventually expanded into all three by 1902.

Between 1985 and 1986 the three buildings were merged into one 50 Monroe building.

“If you look at an old photo of the place, they literally encapsulated and made it look like a big refrigerator,” Cummings said. “It just gnawed at us for people to come to the center of our city and see this building that does not represent who we are.”

CWD acquired the 50 Monroe/37 Ottawa property in 2012. The firm will own and manage what is now two buildings going forward.

CWD has secured the AC Hotel by Marriott for 50 Monroe next door, the Business Journal previously reported. The hotel is scheduled to open on June 3.

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