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x99 last won the day on July 21 2012

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  1. x99

    New 13 story hotel at 10 Ionia

    From a design perspective, I actually like the new one more. But it's still not nearly as good as almost any random historic flatiron-style building, unfortunately. It's boring, stripped down, completely unadorned, and devoid of anything resembling personality. Oh, well. It could always be worse... I mean, where's the six colors of metal siding mixed in with four different colors and styles of brick? Clearly lacking in input from our wonderfully talented local architecture firms...
  2. x99

    The State of Downtown Grand Rapids Retail

    They just put one of those in the Trust Building, too.. "Forty Pearl". Oddly, I have never seen the place open during the day, or even the early evening. I'm giving that one about 6 months. Hopefully this place will actually have customers in it...
  3. x99

    Diamond Place at the Proos Site

    That seems like the only other reasonable possibility other than a discount chain. It seems unlikely that a "national chain" that has no presence in the area would suddenly decide it wanted to send trucks and everything else to service a rather small store in an untested location.
  4. x99

    Diamond Place at the Proos Site

    Whaddyawannabet that the "national grocery store" is something like Dollar General.
  5. x99

    Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

    That's positive. My recollection is that ridership was running around 2000ish versus projections of about 7500. My "fear" is that they picked up enough "short haul" legitimate free riders who there may not be a way of tracking, thus allowing the Rapid to significantly inflate its ridership figures.
  6. x99

    Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

    Oh, yeah. It never came anywhere close to meeting original projections, which were of course the only thing that make it look like burning tens of millions on it wasn't one of the dumbest ideas ever. No news stories in at least a year, except for them trying get corporate sponsorships for the Silver Line buses because they are having problems with operations costs. Whether a fair "quick" look at ridership means anything at this point is doubtful. North of Wealthy the rides are completely free.
  7. x99

    Diamond Place at the Proos Site

    There are two potential options for these buildings: 1) The designer had untreated schizophrenia. 2) They bought random materials from the clearance bin and switched to something else when they ran out. The third option, that someone did this intentionally and purposefully, is too depressing to consider. If they were going for something that looks like a pure, unadulterated s--tfest, that thumbs its nose at good taste, that mocks all that is good and decent in this world, they nailed it like a boss.
  8. x99

    New 13 story hotel at 10 Ionia

    Maybe if they'd designed this thing to actually look attractive ... like a 40 story neogothic tower or castle ... iit wouldn't have fallen flat on its rear end. I always just assumed it was Hinman's vanity project where money didn't matter. Seems it wasn't. Oh well.
  9. x99

    Grandville Castle Apartments

    My guess is that it isn't anything other than finding enough labor to pull it all off. I think there are four or five hundred units in this thing. That's a huge number of plumbers, electricians, tile settlers, carpet installers, finish carpenters, and drywallers in a construction labor market that is already tight. It is quite a bit quicker to finish off large commercial spaces than something with a mountain of corners and closets. They also supposedly finished the interior walls with skimcoat plaster. I have no idea where they even managed to find enough guys around here who still know how to use a hawk and a trowel.
  10. x99

    Warner Tower - Lyon and Ottawa

    They've also poured the pool for the hotel already, so there that. If anyone wants to go swimming...
  11. Not only small, but I'm guessing rather self-selected. I know quite a few downtown workers, and they virtually all drive downtown, nearly none live that close to a bus stop, and the vast majority drive a single occupant vehicle--all of them, in fact. Where is that data drawn from, whitemice? I would beg to differ... somewhat. A few years ago we still had a situation where there were only a few hundred monthly cards. That left room for a single marge employer to come in, after which the supply would be wiped out. That is exactly what happened. The city engaged in a below-market rate lease with Spectrum, and wiped out what they had left with just one building. I still wonder whether that was the shiny new progressive parking department at work trying to facilitate their mode-shifting social justice fantasies. Probably not, but it still baffles me how they could have been so short-sighted. But, here we are. No monthly parking and still no workable plan in the works. It was actually nearly two decades ago when the business community had a much stronger representation that things went in the right direction. There may yet be a solution to this: Sell off the parking department lock, stock, and barrel, with a requirement that at least three separate parties own the pieces, none controlling more than 45% of the sold-off spaces in each of ramp, street, and surface lot parking.
  12. x99

    The "Affordable Housing" Discussion in GR

    They are different. The people in Catamount are honest about it. They spent a lot of money to live there and don't want a low rent guy down the street or even inside that gate unless he is cutting the grass. I don't understand why the loudest whining came from homeowners in Heritage Hill complaining about getting more neighbors like the ones they already have. It's absolutely insane, unenlightened, ignorant nonsense which is rooted in the fear campaign the neighborhood associations whipped up. It's like someone in a new subdivision complaining that the developers just keeping putting up more of those stupid houses everywhere...
  13. I am not sure Third Coast is guilty of this, but many of the developers working on the fringes often work in close proximity to neighborhoods. Developers who do that intentionally want to go "short" on the parking in order to use the "free" neighborhood parking in front of everyone else's house. I'm not one to demonize developers, but when they pull stunts like that they deserve a tremendous amount of grief. That city policy continues to permit this is disgraceful. I recall my calculations on one micro-unit project were along the lines of ten acres of street parking being required to service the project if it were built with zero parking and no nearby ramps, and residents had one car per unit. How the numbers work out is location-dependent, but it can get pretty obscene. It's worth noting that the current parking scenario is not going to help bring more residential online downtown, either. Not every tenant can leave every morning and return at night. The lack of available parking also puts an end to residential re-utilization of existing buildings which do not have owned parking. I do not understand how the city things this is sustainable for continued growth over the long term.
  14. There are officially zero available parking spaces east of the Grand River. Wait times are from 4 to 16 months. If you own office space and do not own your own parking, it is now officially virtually worthless. This also (obviously) makes any sort of retail impossible given that it means most of the parking is, in fact, rather un-accommodatingly full. I'd call all of that a serious problem.
  15. x99

    The "Affordable Housing" Discussion in GR

    The zoning appeals board is chockablock with neighborhood association types (and at least one wrote a letter opposing this) because that's where they thought the action was... I think they all just realized the planning commission holds the purse strings. True. There's got to be a lot of cognitive dissonance going on with a lot of the old crusty (and even the less crusty) Midwestern progressive types when it comes to their own little slices of heaven. The repeated hatred of "developers" and "profits" was particularly rich, particularly when it was coupled with griping about ADUs, which are owner occupied dwellings. Some of this might be the "urban renewal" mindset, but I'm not as charitable. Most of the noisiest complaints came out of Heritage Hill. The homeowners there seem to be very concerned with their "voice" and that any proposal to increase "density" requires their "voice". Most development is by right, except for rental housing. So most of what that "voice" can be used for is to whine about rental housing. It's the same crap zoning was used for 60 years ago--keep out some population group you would rather not have. Now it's just dressed up in progressive newspeak about "profit-seeking-developers" (who rent to the guy you don't want next door and who otherwise doesn't have enough dough to get into your neighborhood). There are a lot of things I can deal with, but well-off "progressives" harping about relaxing rules that keep out less wealthy people is not one of them.