Hotel Developers Land OneYear Option

    GRAND RAPIDS — By a 5-to-2 vote, city commissioners gave Blue Bridge Ventures and its partner Hines Interests LP a one-year option Tuesday morning to work out a deal to buy City Hall, the Government Center parking ramp and Calder Plaza.

    The developers hope to build a 24-story convention hotel on the site.

    By the same vote, commissioners also amended the option by capping the fee the developers would pay the city for any expenses the city incurs from negotiating with Blue Bridge during the option period to no more than $25,000.

    Mayor John Logie and 2nd Ward commissioner Lynn Rabaut both voted against the option agreement.

    “I don’t think this (contract) covers all the terms of a document,” said Logie, a real estate attorney.

    Third Ward Commissioner Scott Bowen introduced the amendment to limit the payout to the city from the developers because he said that the city hasn’t billed other developers for the time city staff has worked on their projects.

    “I think that it’s wrong to do this now,” said Bowen.

    That amendment was the only one that the developers got. They wanted three others.

    The option restricts the city from selling the property to anyone else for a year unless the city terminates the agreement, something the city can do for any reason at any time during the 12-month period.

    Commissioners also approved the Downtown Development Authority’s $5 million bond package that will help cover the $12.9 million shortfall for the construction of DeVos Place, the new convention center. The city-county building authority will issue the bonds, which will be backed by Kent County.

    The bond package was part of a comprise deal reached by DDA Chairman Verne Barry and Kent County Chairman Steve Heacock to close the building’s funding gap. The county also agreed to contribute $5 million toward it, but Kent’s contribution was contingent on the DDA’s.

    The DDA approved the bonds in August, while the county ratified its contribution last month.

    Details on both of these stories will be in Monday’s edition of the Business Journal.           

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