20 Monroe sale to close


    The downtown project dubbed “Bobville” should take a big step toward reality this week as the development firm is expected to close on the purchase of a city-owned parking lot today.

    The 20 Monroe Building Co. LP, headed by Gilmore Collection CEO Gregory Gilmore, is buying the Monroe Place lot from the city for $1.9 million to expand The BOB at 20 Monroe Ave. NW, downtown’s largest entertainment center.

    The company plans to build a festival marketplace in a five-story addition that would feature live events, food items including a farmers market, two levels of suites and an incubator for start-up businesses. The lot is adjacent to The BOB and near the intersection of Ottawa Avenue and Fulton Street NW.

    City commissioners agreed last week to lease access to the 70-space lot and its assets, such as the revenue control equipment, to 20 Monroe for a monthly fee of $520. Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said 20 Monroe would continue to operate the lot for parking until construction gets started and would be responsible for setting the rates and maintaining the site.

    “They’ll pay a lease amount and not a parking rate,” said Ritsema.

    Parking commissioners approved the lease agreement earlier this month.

    But if the company doesn’t meet the requirements in a separate development agreement that 20 Monroe signed with the city in May, then the city can buy the lot back and at a lower price.

    “If they fail to meet the development deadlines, then the city has the right to repurchase the lot,” said Ritsema.

    Those deadlines require 20 Monroe to file for building permits by Feb. 1, 2011, start construction by Oct. 1, 2011, and complete construction by Oct. 1, 2012. The lease contract gives the firm 28 months to start building the project, a time period that 1st Ward City Commissioner James Jendrasiak felt was too long.

    “I don’t know that Greg (Gilmore) will take the 28 months. He may get done before then,” said Ritsema, who negotiated all the agreements with 20 Monroe.

    “We don’t anticipate this occurring,” said Eric DeLong, interim city manager, of the firm not meeting the deadlines. “This developer has a good track record, and we’re managing this to the best outcome.”

    The development agreement also requires 20 Monroe to invest a minimum of $5 million into the project and build an addition of at least 20,000 square feet.

    The revenue from the lot’s sale will go to Parking Services. DeLong said the department would use those dollars to help finance current parking projects. Parking Services is building ramps at 38 Commerce Ave. SW and at the corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street. The department will also construct a lot on Ionia Avenue NW as part of the Imperial Metals renovation project in the Monroe North Business District.

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