Tower Pinkster moves into Locus Development building to be ‘part of’ downtown


Chuck Hoyt, left, of Locus Development, and Arnold Mikon, president and CEO of Tower Pinkster. Photo by Michael Buck

One of the region’s most respected architectural and engineering firms will be moving into the former Junior Achievement Building at 2 E. Fulton St. later this year.

Tower Pinkster — which has designed key downtown renovations like the Civic Theatre, Kent County Courthouse and the former Federal Building that now houses Ferris State University and Kendall College of Art and Design — plans to move its Grand Rapids office from a temporary location in Byron Center into the downtown building’s second floor next summer.

The firm is leasing 7,500 square feet for 10 years from Locus Development, which bought the two-story building from Mercantile Bank last year and will soon begin a historic renovation of the structure that has sat vacant since 1998. Tower Pinkster is designing the project.

“When we were hired to do the project, our tenancy was not part of that. That evolved over a period of time," said Arnie Mikon, president and CEO of Tower Pinkster. “We’ve seen the growth and excitement and the vibrancy of downtown Grand Rapids, and we thought it was important for us to be a part of that.

"We’ve had a desire to move downtown for a long time, but the stars didn’t get aligned until quite recently," he said. "We want to be near the leadership of the downtown community.”

Moving to that location on the southeast corner of Fulton and Division, a site that has often been called a gateway to downtown, gets the design and engineering firm into the sector’s design district. The move will put Tower Pinkster across the street from UICA and near the Avenue of the Arts, Kendall College and GRid70.

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“And we’re in the design business,” said Mikon, who added the new location also gets the company near many of the projects it has designed. “It is a great move all around. In particular, I think it will relate to us attracting the next generation of talent to our firm.”

Mikon said the new space will have 25 employees with enough room for up to 15 more. All will come from the company’s Grand Rapids office, as none are expected to be transferred there from Kalamazoo, Tower Pinkster’s home base.

In addition to Tower Pinkster, Locus Development has hired Pioneer Construction to manage the renovation work.

Andy Winkel, a partner with John Green in the development firm, said having the design firm as a tenant serves as a catalyst to catapult the project forward.

“When other companies see Tower Pinkster occupying a well renovated historic building at the core of downtown, it helps to make other firms aware of the opportunity to locate in such a unique, high-exposure building," Winkel said. "On a bigger-picture level, it’s a sign that creative, high-energy firms want to be in unique buildings downtown. We love to see that. 

“One thing we also should point out is that Grand River Bank is providing the financing for the project,” Winkel added. “This project requires the use of multiple development credit and incentive programs, and we’ve been extremely impressed with Grand River Bank’s ability to not let the complexities of these programs slow down their support for the project.”

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