Hines Interest Is In Calder Plaza Hotel

    GRAND RAPIDS — With at least 680 holdings worldwide that account for more than 200 million square feet and over $13 billion in controlled assets, what interests Hines Interests LP about developing a convention center hotel in Grand Rapids?

    The privately owned Houston-based developer and real estate management firm has offices in 76 U.S. cities and in 11 other countries including Poland, Russia, Italy and China. Hines has about 2,800 employees and does just about everything imaginable in real estate, such as site selection, design, construction management and financing.

    The Hines portfolio includes corporate headquarters, industrial facilities, resorts and residential communities. Four of the company’s latest announcements reveal the firm’s real-estate reach and development diversity.

    • Last month, Hines said it would develop an 88,000-square-foot, five-story office building in London’s financial district and construct a new 36,000-square-foot, five-story structure that will serve as the world headquarters for the Salvation Army.
    • In May, Hines said that it would open the new 845,000-square-foot, 40-story IDX Tower in downtown Seattle this October.
    • In April, Hines said it would sell the retail and hotel portions of the Galleria, the largest mixed-use complex in Dallas. The complex has 3.8 million square feet. Hines sold the three Galleria office towers in 1999.
    • In April, Hines said it would construct a four-building, 264,000-square-foot office complex in Milan — its second project in the Italian city.

    Closer to home, Hines has an interest in six Chicago properties with about 5.7 million square feet, and five in Detroit with at least 7.9 million square feet. The Detroit holdings are its only ones in Michigan.

    “I think this is the smallest market they’ve been interested in,” said Ed Kettle of Blue Bridge Ventures, the local developer that enlisted Hines in the Calder Plaza hotel proposal.

    “This firm is on the A-list of high-rise developers,” said Ed Mikolay of Blue Bridge.

    So why is Hines working with Blue Bridge on a proposal to put a convention-center hotel on Calder Plaza, right here in little ol’ River City? The Business Journal couldn’t get a direct answer to that question because Hines has a policy of not speaking about proposed projects.

    But a reply to that query became clearer last Tuesday when Hines and Blue Bridge outlined their plan to city commissioners over lunch.

    “I think the interest is in the project. We support Jack and Blue Bridge Ventures on the development of the hotel on Calder Plaza and I think that’s what our interest is,” said Chris Opipari of the Hines Detroit office.

    Opipari told the Business Journal that his firm has studied the local market.

    “Grand Rapids is a very nice place. But it would take a lot more dialogue and discussion to get into details about the market itself, so it’s probably not an appropriate conversation to have today,” he said.

    Opipari added that Hines has been working on the proposed hotel with Blue Bridge President Jack Buchanan for three years and began meeting with city officials 18 months ago. Buchanan has invested eight years in the project.

    After meeting with city commissioners last week, the developers also got together with city-based architects Beta Design Group, Design Plus and Progressive AE about becoming involved with Los Angeles high-rise designer Keating/Khang in the project if it becomes reality.

    “They’re giving the local firms a chance to team up on the project,” said John Edison, vice president of Beta Design Group.

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