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x99 last won the day on July 21 2012

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  1. x99

    Warner Tower - Lyon and Ottawa

    You know the bar is high when it's good because at least it isn't made of corrugated metal....
  2. x99

    Keeler Building - 56 North Division

    If it's the same outfit consisting mostly of mortgage brokers with no readily apparent experience in the field that applied the first time around (see prior posts), I think they'll get turned down again, and again, and again....
  3. x99

    Proposed 400 room Hotel at Devos Place

    The argument, which I'm not sure I but, is that more hotels will cause more conventions to happen, which will increase hotel demand, and increase prices. If someone has a study showing that actually works, I'm all ears. If someone comes up with a strong tenant who will pay market rent for a 20 year lease for a hotel to be funded by the CAA, I'd be happy to hear about it. Of course, if that's the case, I would find it rather difficult to understand why someone else wouldn't just build the thing in the first place.
  4. x99

    Proposed 400 room Hotel at Devos Place

    Charts like the one you posted earlier demonstrate why this is a horrible practice. Subsidizing this stuff just plasters over deeper structural problems that further damage non-subsidized operators. If they want to do a ground lease for a dollar in order to collect the tax revenues, fine--they own the dirt. But paying to build the hotel is just foolish, when there have been plenty of hotels built by market operators. Amazon basically manage to get corporate Section 8 for itself. Taxpayer funded hotels, sports stadiums, etc., are no less awful.
  5. x99

    The State of Downtown Grand Rapids Retail

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Exactly. Eventually, though, I suspect this strategy may not pan out how they want it to. I think landlords with vacant spaces are going to end up wishing they had locked in leases on vacant space years ago. We'll see. Maybe they all have some sort of inside information about a huge influx of residential and office users ready to jump into the pool. But I doubt it.
  6. x99

    Division / Wealthy and ICCF

    I'm sure it will be fairly good quality. ICCF so far has shown a fairly good commitment to quality traditionalist urban architecture. It's not always the latest trend, but it's also not dated and trashy looking in 10 years. They're building for the long haul, which is a pretty good philosophy.
  7. x99

    Grand Rapids Then and Now

    Whenever this thread resurfaces it makes me sad.
  8. x99

    DeVos Family Headquarters (Old 5/3 building)

    Since they've run out of good buildings to protect, I'm sure they will start trying to protect the trash that replaced the treasures. In order, save, you know, for all of time the history of how beautiful buildings were replaced by garbage... But whatever happens to this Ffith Third building, it's hard to see how it could be worse. I'm just going fingers crossed on this that it doesn't end up like another Warner "Tower" glass cube.
  9. There seem to be two trains of thought here: One--> You can usually find a space if you are going downtown for a visit (unless it's near the Arena, which can be a nightmare). Agreed. However, that's not a real issue, apart from whether the spaces meet what is needed to facilitate restaurants. Two -->The major issue is OFFICE parking. And it's out of stock. Not a single post yet claiming I've mischaracterized a bit of this. Just that they can find some restaurant parking if they want to pay enough for it. Sorry to go off on a rant, but everytime this Naramore guy opens his mouth I'm just astonished by what comes out of it. I wanted to figure out what his deal was, and I think I did. He wants to do anything but efficiently and effectively run the department that facilitates essentially all of the meaningful economic activity downtown. People want to buy steaks, but he would really rather be selling tofu.
  10. You're talking stuff like Akron, Sioux Falls, and Fort Wayne. I would be a little reluctant to include places like Des Moines or Madison since they double as state capitals. Of the first three, none of them charge anything even close to what Grand Rapids does for parking by, well... a lot. Des Moines is still cheaper by about $50 to $75 monthly. Madison is about on par. But it has almost 100,000 more people, is the state capital, and has a major university which makes GVSU look like.. well... not UW-Madison. IMO, it's pretty clear that Naramore/city are 100% on board with jacking up the rates, causing the congestion, and trying to force a "mode shift". Well, that will mode shift people, all the way out of town to a place that isn't run by ideological morons who think they will save those dumb suburbanites from their evil cars. Eventually, CWD is going to have to crack under the pressure, list their acres of empty space and/or lower rates, and then the true scope of the office market ugliness will be out there. Downtown isn't exactly a place any sane, growing employer wants to put an office or have an office at the moment. It's an OFFICE PARK with NO PARKING. I have talked to multiple employers who have had to have serious discussions about getting out when their leases are up. They don't have options. They can't hire because people can't park. And what do all of those thousands of suburbanites who work downtown tell their friends? Yup. Parking sucks. Stay away. And now more articles about rates getting jacked up even higher? Oh, dear. The message NEEDS to be: WE ARE ADDING SPACES AS FAST AS POSSIBLE AND HAVE XYZ GARAGES COMING ONLINE. It ain't. It's still, "take a bike" and it's COMING FROM THE GUY RUNNING THE PARKING DEPARTMENT which is PLAYING WITH FIRE. [As for congestion, the worst of it was intentionally manufactured with unused bike lanes on Division. Or, construction derived. There is almost no congestion except congestion that has Division or construction as its cause. Before that bike lane on Division, there was none. That bike lane backs traffic up on Division, and all feeders, often well past Ottawa because you can only cram about 25 cars on all of Division southbound, maybe, and there is no right turn lane or secondary thru lane].
  11. x99

    West Michigan/Grand Rapids Economy

    There was no state income tax for people who lived there, or businesses who operated there (among other perks). It wasn't necessarily intentional, but RenZones brought about scads of apartment conversions, with lots of high income single people living in them (see: Union Square). It was probably singly responsible for Wealthy Street as it is today, obviously Union Square, and arguably the new Meijer could even be an offshoot. I think that tax break worked shockingly well. This tax break is not as direct. This break is designed to tempt rich people to stuff their capital next door to poor people, and grow businesses there, but it isn't nearly as aggressive about it as RenZones were in terms of tempting rich people to actually move into impoverished areas.
  12. Reading more of this stuff from Naramore, it got me thinking (and researching). I suspect Josh Naramore--or at least the department he leads--is increasingly detested among stakeholders in the downtown business community. Unfortunately, this is perhaps justifiably so. The department is led by an apparent ideologue who publicly trashes parking ramps and cars. It's not exactly news that the city, with Naramore leading the way, seems to be doing all it can to drive out "mode shift" downtown office and retail users, despite already having alarming vacancy rates. Instead of providing a message that downtown parking is easy, affordable, and accessible--which is necessary for the growth of any city in Grand Rapids' shoes--Naramore constantly shouts from the rooftops that parking is full, pricey, and only going to get worse. I would be a bit loathe to criticize a city employee who is just doing his or her job, but I'm not sure that is the case here. I think Naramore sees his job as destroying that which he is in charge of running. Is this really what the city hired this guy to do? Naramore's bio (see: https://danielrosecenter.org/people/josh-naramore/ and repeated elsewhere) gives away his agenda. " This [Naramore's] role assists the City’s economic development and quality of life goals by increasing the number of people who take transit, walk, bike, or commute/travel in a way other than driving alone. " Is that actually his job description, or is that something he came up with? Given this quote elsewhere, I rather suspect he came up with that description which is entirely dismissive of 95% of the workforce and their quality of life: "So, 10 percent of the city’s workforce should be doing that, something other than driving alone and parking in the facility, such as parking more remotely and taking transit in or biking or just taking transit." Thus, the real question is whether the city assigned him this "mission" or whether it's something he is pushing himself. Recall back a year when there was this stupid dispute about a symbolic vote whether the Commission ought to formally instruct "Mobile GR" to improve the parking scenario, and give the business community a ray of hope. The rejoinder was that this was unnecessary, and that obviously they were doing this. Yet, if they are, Naramore repeatedly seems to give short shrift to--and arguably openly dislikes--a mode of transit used by more than 95% of downtown users. No surprise, then, that his "role" doesn't mention a word about increasing the efficient and capacity of--or even managing, for that matter--the City's parking system. Don't believe me? Look at the man's Twitter feed for evidence: https://twitter.com/joshnaramore?lang=en. The person supposedly managing our parking department has a Twitter feed which lauds buses and bikes, and casts doom, gloom, and aspersion on parking ramps and those who use them. Why in the world would you hire someone to manage a business--particularly the rather cash-rich parking department--when he often derides vehicles and parking structures, and seeks ways to get people to stop using the stuff that makes the money? It's like hiring Jeff Bezos to run a mom and pop bookstore. You mean going there suddenly completely stinks and is far more hassle than it used to be? Well, golly! You mean parking suddenly stinks after the city hired a guy whose bio is all bikes, buses, and mode shifting and zippo about parking? Well, golly! The city ought to hire someone with actual expertise and experience in parking to the run the parking department, and put Naramore in charge of a tiny little department with 5% of the budget of the parking department, which roughly represents the fraction of people who give two rips about and support the nonsense he is constantly promoting. Yeah, yeah, I know. As an urbanist a post like this is probably apostasy. But not really. I want a vibrant city full of buildings and shops, and to which people from the suburbs will travel. I really don't care in the slightest how they get here, and it makes no sense to me to be so openly hostile to their chosen transport method. Grand Rapids is not New York, it is not Chicago, and it is not even Portland. It's a freaking snow-belt city where it takes 12 minutes to get downtown via highway. Unless Naramore plans to blow up that highway, he's got a problem he will never, ever solve by trashing the parking system. The man lives in a fantasy world with blinders on. Again, just read the Twitter feed...
  13. x99

    Wealthy Street Mega Thread

    So, here we go... Fairly nice overall design. But. This building has a lot going for it, so I'm a little hesitant to criticize, but from a materials perspective, it's a little off. I get that the clapboard siding is a "nod" to the old Wild Bunch building, but it's a little strange. I can't recall hardly any buildings from any period in time where someone picture framed clapboard with bricks. I just looked at a photo of the old building, and the best part of was the bracketed cornice and the window hoods. It could have been restored (before the fire) and painted and been one of the more attractive buildings. Clapboard or brick the whole thing, and for the "Wild Bunch" nod do a nice cornice and some window hoods. Done. Of course, there could be a real strong "Wild Bunch" element. The clapboards sort of look like maybe the bricks were failing and someone cheaply covered them up with whatever they could find. They really should have used some plywood sheets somewhere. That would be full on Wild Bunch.
  14. x99

    Grandville Castle Apartments

    I think you need to re-up to Architectural Digest. Apart from the cheap cabinets with a lack of crown and other high-end stuff (not expected in an apartment), it's pretty well on-trend. White cabinets and trim had their day in the sun, but it's fading. Thank goodness. Granted, I'd still put them into a flip since 2005 is still fresh and new around here. If that' s actual wood, it's a much better choice long-term than plastic doors and dollar store 3.25" colonial trim.
  15. x99

    Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

    One of those guys, eh? Randomly blame stuff on the big "R" with not even a whiff of data? There are a lot of reasons other than "racism" that people living in the suburbs don't want to pay for a bunch of trains and buses. See "won't-use-it-don't-want-it-hate-taxes".