Historic downtown building is available


The Pike House has a storied history, more recently as the site of the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, now Grand Rapids Art Museum, for more than 50 years. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Chris Pastotnik

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) One of downtown’s oldest and most unique buildings has gone into receivership and is being marketed by a real estate management firm and turnaround consultant headquartered in Grand Rapids on behalf of the Indiana-based mortgage holder.

First Financial Bank, formerly Irwin Union Bank and Trust, foreclosed on the Pike House, 230 E. Fulton St., and is offering the two-story, 24,751-square-foot building for sale through Amicus Management.

The structure, which was built in 1844, is being listed for $1.495 million, but eventually will be sold to the highest bidder.

“There are multiple buyers in line that have been contacted prior to actually putting a for-sale sign into the ground. It is a very sought-after property,” said Kent Carpenter, a project director and manager with Amicus Management.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates appointed Amicus Management as the receiver in July. The company’s mission is to maximize the value of the assets in order to satisfy the debt First Financial incurred when Pike House LLC, four trust organizations and nine individuals defaulted on a 2006 mortgage issued by Irwin Bank and Trust.

First Financial, a regional bank based in Terre Haute, Ind., became the creditor when it took over the assets of Irwin Bank and Trust in September 2009 and is owed nearly $2.2 million by Pike House LLC and the mortgage’s guarantors: the trusts and individuals.

Irwin Bank and Trust issued the mortgage when Design Plus, a local architectural firm, bought the Pike House and renovated the building for its new headquarters seven years ago. Design Plus merged with Progressive AE about a year ago and moved into Progressive’s building on Four Mile Road NW. The mortgage guarantors were former officers of Design Plus.

“They’ve been out of the space since last October,” said Carpenter. “I met with (Design Plus) CFO, Kathy Ball, and she turned over the keys to me. It was not contentious.”

Carpenter expects that Amicus Management will manage the building and property through much of the winter and possibly into early spring before a sale is made. He said the firm will make a few minor repairs to the Pike House over the next few months.

Design Plus bought the Pike House in July 2006 for $950,000, according to Kent County property records. The defendants can redeem the building by settling with First Financial Bank, but Carpenter said that is unlikely to happen — as is the case in most redemption periods.

Abram Pike built the structure as his home. An Ohio native, Pike came to Michigan in 1827 and became the clerk for the Port Sheldon Co., which owned the Ottawa House hotel in Port Sheldon. When the luxurious hotel failed, Pike brought the building’s four unique pillars here by oxen and incorporated the columns into the design of his house. The pillars distinctively mark the building’s front entrance.

The interior has large open office spaces, multiple conference rooms, a reception area, an elevator, a full kitchen and a basement for storage and additional offices. The building sits on nearly an acre of land and has 60 parking spaces behind it.

The Pike House served as home to Grand Rapids Art Gallery, now Grand Rapids Art Museum, for more than 50 years and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The structure also has an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Exemption in place until the end of 2018, which freezes the building’s taxable value at $140,374 for the exempted period. The exemption was awarded in 2007 and doesn’t apply to the land.

Once the redemption period expires, Amicus Management and First Financial Bank will take the offers they receive on the building to the county’s 17th Circuit Court. Yates will have to approve an offer before a sale can be made. In this situation, making the first offer and meeting the listed price doesn’t necessarily mean a deal will be done.

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