GRAND RAPIDS — Parking commissioners recently ratified a plan to sell the site of the former City Centre parking ramp. That strategy, which emerged from a special taskforce assigned to decide what to do with the property at the southwest corner of Division and Fulton, is now headed to the city commission for its review.
The asking price for the 36,000-square-foot site is $1.95 million. But the redevelopment plan focuses on other items such as design guidelines, uses for the site and parking.
“We’re looking at more than price,” said Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema. “There seems to be quite a bit of interest from developers already.”
Should city commissioners approve the plan, the city will likely call for proposals next month, with the winning project and bid to be announced in March.
“In essence, the concept we’re proposing is to put it out on the street for 90 days from December to March,” said Jay Fowler, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.
One requirement in the city’s plan is that any project submitted for the site should include at least 100 parking spaces for visitors.
Parking Commissioner John Logie said that the city should be a partner in the project and wants Parking Services to have a say in the visitors parking. If the department was allowed to operate those spaces, he felt that might result in a lower negotiated price on the property for the winning bidder.
“We want to have a voice in how it’s going to be used,” said Logie, who will leave the commission at the end of the year.
As the plan now stands, anyone submitting a proposal will have to estimate the amount of capital investment going into the project above the cost of acquiring the property, along with how many jobs the development will create and a summary of the economic impact the project will have.
The city will likely favor a mixed-use project that includes some retail and the project’s design should blend in with the existing buildings. The property is located in the Heartside Historic District, so the final design will need approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
The city will list the site for sale and pay the broker who closes the deal a commission of 3.5 percent.
Public officials and private individuals served on the taskforce and they decided a parking ramp wasn’t the “highest and best” use for the property. The City Centre ramp stood on that site for 42 years before it was closed in January and razed in September because of structural problems.