Wheeler proposes $55M, 24-story building downtown

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The approximately 310,000-square-foot structure would contain nearly 120 apartments and 20 condominiums, plus five floors for parking. Rendering courtesy Wheeler Development

The Wedge on the corner of Ottawa Avenue and Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids may be the site of a new collaboration between the city and local developers.

The city of Grand Rapids recently entered a one-year agreement with Wheeler Development Group to conduct due diligence and negotiate a development agreement for a portion of 22 Ottawa Ave. NW, also known as The Wedge.

Wheeler Development Group proposed a $55 million, 24-story, mixed-use building encompassing approximately 310,000 square feet. Features and uses include 5,215 square feet of ground-floor retail, five floors of parking with approximately 185 spaces, three floors or approximately 44,000 square feet of office space, 10 stories for about 118 apartments and five floors for about 19 condominiums.

Jason Wheeler, vice president of marketing and community relations for Wheeler Development, said the group’s previous work in the Arena District gives Wheeler Development an affinity for bringing people together.

Additionally, Wheeler Development said it has made a commitment to work with the city to prioritize the utilization of micro-local, women and minority business enterprises for the project.

“We as a team, between Wheeler Development Group, Orion Construction and the city, look forward to sitting down and strategizing ways to engage a diverse audience on the project,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler Development will begin with preconstruction, development costs, budget, financing mechanisms and a strong community engagement during the due diligence phase.

Integrated Architecture will work alongside the project’s general contractor, Orion Construction.

The city commission authorized issuance of a request for proposal last October. The RFP sought a development partner for a mixed-use multistory development on an approximately 17,400-square-foot portion of the city-owned property.

The property is part of the parcel that contains the city’s Ottawa/Fulton parking ramp. The RFP sought a partner to construct, at a minimum, ground floor retail space, five levels of parking that would be connected to the city’s existing ramp and additional development on floors above the parking.

The city received four proposals by December. A committee comprised of city staff, staff from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., special counsel and members of the Mobile GR Commission, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the Downtown Development Authority convened to review the proposals.

The goals of the RFP, which were used to evaluate the proposals, included:

  • Maximize density and height

  • Consistency with the goals of GR Forward

  • Project quality and timing

  • Financial capacity and ability to complete a project within three years

  • Developer track record for success with similar projects

  • Necessity and likelihood of development incentives

  • Inclusion of residential units and concepts for reserving a portion of units for affordable housing

  • Commitment to prioritize, along with past performance of utilization of micro-local- (MLBE), women- (WBE) and minority- (MBE) owned contractors

  • Value, including sale price

Wheeler Development Group estimated between 10% and 20% of the apartment units could be made affordable to households earning 80% or less than the area median income.

Groundbreaking is expected to begin in fall 2020 with a construction timeline of approximately 28 months. The developer has offered the greater of $2 million or the appraised value as consideration for the land.

The proposed development also provides an opportunity for the city to pilot strategies and develop protocols for implementation and on-going maintenance of programming to support affordable housing and MLBE, WBE and MBE utilization.

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