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About GRCentro

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    Grand Rapids, MI

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  1. Quite a bit of work was already completed awhile ago. Aside from the shopfronts, the entire building envelope was stabilized, including a new roof and a full masonry restoration -- really well done, actually. I believe most of the interior was gutted, too.
  2. Some additional images here. Must it be so excessively ugly? http://woodtv.com/2018/01/03/downtown-gr-developers-reveal-plans-for-studio-park-hotel/
  3. You're absolutely right. This is something I struggle with, too. I do support preservation as a means of economic growth and cultural conservation, but often wonder how successful our prevailing model really is at doing so equitably. There has been some recent literature that criticizes historic preservation as another pattern of classist gentrification. There's not much in the discussion (as far as I have read) that offers a sensible balance. (If anyone has reading suggestions on this topic, please let me know!)
  4. Good question. In time, I think approval for the residential portions of Green Crane's development will be considered an error. I no longer sit on HPC and didn't vote on the Donald Place project, though I am sad to see it discarded. While the final design was not great (in my opinion), it was good and had opportunity to be massaged into something excellent. The flat roofed proposal seemed like a particularly strong possibility with similar local precedents, both old and new. More importantly, I'm sad to see it go because this neighborhood really does need more homes for people at tha
  5. Interestingly, there is little to no automatic protection for a resource listed on a national or state historic register. The "teeth" of preservation enforcement is almost always at the local level. What a national historic designation can do is prevent the use of federal funds to harm a listed resource (1966 National Historic Preservation Act). The saving of Heritage Hill from wholesale demolition in the late 60's was a classic use of this mechanism. Regarding the church building at Diamond and Hermitage, don't expect big changes anytime soon. A demo by neglect hearing simply opens a le
  6. The owner is appealing the demo request to the state preservation review board. Can't recall when they are next meeting. Sometime this spring.
  7. I'm surprised no one dug this up yet. Concept images for 1157 Wealthy.
  8. Had the owner requested full demolition in advance, I would guess that it would have been approved given the overwhelming evidence that demonstrated a public safety risk. In such an instance, any new construction would be evaluated separately and it could very well be contemporary in style, a la 12 Weston, for example. In this case, the owner of 746 wants to keep the existing facade and requested to rebuild like for like. The "building" is already fully leased and I'm sure he is eager to get this thing rebuilt asap. The greater concern that this story has revealed is how easily a less
  9. A very good question. I asked exactly the same thing at the meeting. Part of HPC’s mandate is to protect historic materials. Given that 99% of the building is gone and none of the exterior materials are original – the siding, trim, windows, the odd little brackets – what are we aiming to protect by keeping the façade? Only a few sticks of framing and sheathing that still stand are original to the building. And reconstruction would certainly be easier without it. The majority HPC opinion was that even if the materials themselves don’t warrant a particular protection, the streetscape and pa
  10. Here’s the scoop from the meeting. The building owner, contractor, architect and City staff were present, plus written testimony from the engineer. City staff presented a detailed history of the property complete with images, court docs and building inspection reports. Here’s a rough timeline of events for those who enjoy the post-mortem details of the death of building: Building has been vacant since early-to-mid 1980s. Code violations begin appearing in 1992, escalating from notices and fines to multiple criminal misdemeanor charges and a demolition by neglect proceeding. The prev
  11. Ha - right! One of them was even knocked over while I was watching, but the beam still didn't fall. The operator tried working around it for a while, but too much debris was in the way. He gave up for the day. ...but all without HPC permission or even a demo permit from the city. So much for my "let's give 'em a chance" optimism.
  12. Well, this is a surprise. Looks like your source was right, GRDad.
  13. No offense taken, GRDad. By the same logic, however, just being "not a builder" doesn't give anyone a strong stance from which to make extreme statements about the owner or contractor's credibility based on a photograph. Old buildings often come with unusual surprises. There is an architect for this project and an established contractor (Copperrock, I believe), plus diligent City staff making sure the public is safe and building code satisfied. I say let's give them all the opportunity to do their jobs before reaching for the tar and feathers. But, maybe that's just my optimism. As far as
  14. Neither. Being a builder myself, as well as a member of HPC, I made a visit out of curiosity but didn't have the opportunity to talk with anyone onsite. Here's a photo I took through the doorway. You can see the second floor joists bearing on the steel beam which itself bears on a steel post, completely independent of the wood stud wall. After my visit I made an inquiry with the City and was told that the footing around the post (which had previously settled unevenly) began to sink even further about four weeks ago. I was assured that the City is monitoring the project, but as of yet, there i
  15. I don't believe the exterior stud wall is actually load bearing in this case. I peaked inside and saw that all the floor joists run parallel to the East wall, bearing instead on a large steel girder that spans the entire width of the building. A steel post which supports the girder began sinking due to an insufficient footing. The girder is temporarily supported with jacks. I think the stud wall was removed intentionally so it wouldn't interfere with jacking the girder back in place. I would assume the jacking will be slow and take at least several weeks -- it's never a good idea to rapidly mo
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