Jump to content

John E

158 Weston SW - Arena Place Mixed-Use Development

Recommended Posts

Reading online comments (always a bad idea) people were complaining about the parking garage. Judging by the renders, I don't think it looks bad. I do not understand why so many people complain about parking. I have never found parking an issue. The ellis lot next to the Mckay tower is always open. Right off Pearl. Easy in and easy out. Every garage I have ever parked in has been half full.. Only MLIVE readers would make bad of a small parking lot leaving the arena district lol 

 

My rank of the day is done hahaha

 

I'm not a fan of those cheesy cheap looking screens over the parking section. It should look like part of the upper structure, like one building.

 

I won't stop ranting about that. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The garage looks terrible. It is just bad architecture, planning and urban design.  This is more representative of cities that are grappling for development -- any development -- than a city that ensures development complements the urban form desired by the community.

 

I have said this in the past, but I blame the City Planning Department more than the developers. The City should have codes that require parking to be screened. This is an extension of the same requirements that require surface parking to be behind buildings and/or screened from streets. In an urban environment, private parking should not be visible from the street. 

 

IMO, the office building is fine. The apartment building is bad. In addition to the garage, the materials look cheap -- probably EIFS which will age poorly. Additionally, it has no architectural variation on the corners or top. Lastly, the windows appear to be flush with the wall, leading to little depth variation. In sum, the apt looks much like a suburban hotel slapped on top of a parking garage......and why only gray and white? Are they trying to camouflage the building during the endless winter days?

 

Now to improve the apartment:

  • use Hardiboard panels or other durable material on the upper floors rather than EIFS 
  • Add another color, ideally a bright color that will accent the drab
  • Bring some of the vertical elements of the apartment over the parking garage
  • Add black or wood accented overhangs over the retail fronts
  • Make sure the first floor is brick
  • Add some type of top to the building so the gray doesn't fade into the winter sky
  • Ideally, windows would join at corners, and not be the generic ones proposed that could probably be purchased at Home Depot.
  • The apartment should distinctly have different colors, materials, and architectural style than the office building (versus both being 80s/90s corporate architecture). And also have variation in the horizontal plane (versus the one continuous building feel). The "D.C." way of doing it would be to have three different designs: one for the office, the connecting piece, and the apartment. Each would have a different color palette, some variation in materials/height/horizontal texture, and complementary but distinct architectural styles.

 

Grill away.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also think the parking structure looks awful. I suppose they could have drawn up some sweet renderings with the parking properly covered, just to tell us later that the project was value engineered, with flimsy screens, or none at all.  At least they are being up front about the fact they can't afford to do it properly.  But as Jippy pointed out, the city should have codes that "cover" this problem.  The MSU Med School did a pretty good job covering their parking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly wouldn't put this building up for any awards, but 240 Ionia seems to have many of these items covered. I'll bet when they get those panels finished, I won't be able to tell where the parking is! :)  FYI, there's also a bright blue stripe on the North side of the building.

 

14872245833_5235465592_b.jpg

 

The garage looks terrible. It is just bad architecture, planning and urban design.  This is more representative of cities that are grappling for development -- any development -- than a city that ensures development complements the urban form desired by the community.

 

I have said this in the past, but I blame the City Planning Department more than the developers. The City should have codes that require parking to be screened. This is an extension of the same requirements that require surface parking to be behind buildings and/or screened from streets. In an urban environment, private parking should not be visible from the street. 

 

IMO, the office building is fine. The apartment building is bad. In addition to the garage, the materials look cheap -- probably EIFS which will age poorly. Additionally, it has no architectural variation on the corners or top. Lastly, the windows appear to be flush with the wall, leading to little depth variation. In sum, the apt looks much like a suburban hotel slapped on top of a parking garage......and why only gray and white? Are they trying to camouflage the building during the endless winter days?

 

Now to improve the apartment:

  • use Hardiboard panels or other durable material on the upper floors rather than EIFS 
  • Add another color, ideally a bright color that will accent the drab
  • Bring some of the vertical elements of the apartment over the parking garage
  • Add black or wood accented overhangs over the retail fronts
  • Make sure the first floor is brick
  • Add some type of top to the building so the gray doesn't fade into the winter sky
  • Ideally, windows would join at corners, and not be the generic ones proposed that could probably be purchased at Home Depot.
  • The apartment should distinctly have different colors, materials, and architectural style than the office building (versus both being 80s/90s corporate architecture). And also have variation in the horizontal plane (versus the one continuous building feel). The "D.C." way of doing it would be to have three different designs: one for the office, the connecting piece, and the apartment. Each would have a different color palette, some variation in materials/height/horizontal texture, and complementary but distinct architectural styles.

 

Grill away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm starting to get real tired of these parking garages being built like this as well. A few years ago they were sold with the idea that these mesh screens would be used to hold vine plants that would cover it with a lush green screen and make it invisible.

 

But looking at the Catholic Central parking ramp on Wealthy and the UICA ramp, it is obvious that this isnt working like it should. Likely from neglect or poor plant choice.

 

This place doesn't look like they are really even going to do that. It would have better just to cover the front with panels that look like windows and light up at night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New renderings from the groundbreaking ceremony today.

 

14601239017_cb6a748c58_b.jpg

 

 

14807600383_0a71668fd9_b.jpg

 

What I also don't understand is why does the office portion have more panels than the apartment end?

 

It also appears as though there is no screening on the side of the parking ramp that faces the buildings to the West..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I also don't understand is why does the office portion have more panels than the apartment end?

 

It also appears as though there is no screening on the side of the parking ramp that faces the buildings to the West..

 

The apartments have been value-engineered significantly. Cheap EIFS walls are much cheaper than windows. 

Also, go back to page 1 and see how this project has taken a turn for the worse. It has gotten taller, but the design has worsened. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, exciting looking project. Questions about whether that's EIFS or not, go!

 

To have Meritage move downtown would be a great addition. I believe they're out on the East Beltline by Twisted Rooster (which they own).

 

9127358516_b8315c7a89_o.png

 

 

9125139617_986ffb4389_o.jpg

 

Sigh. That design looked pretty cool.

 

Icon on Bond is looking pretty good right now.

 

4115037445_55c9a42a8e_z.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more I look at the differences, I alter between laughter and anger by the lack of corporate responsibility on this project. The original rendering meets every single recommendation that I offered a few posts back (no comparison was done when I offered the round of proposed improvements). The original meets all basic urban design requirements.

 

The final is architecturally uninspiring with attributes of poor urban design. Lastly, it just is lazily inconsistent. Why are the panels completely covering the northern end of the parking garage and the southern end of the parking garage is completely exposed, despite the fact that they are the exact same design. It just lacks logic, coherence, creativity and Grand Rapids deserves better than this.....especially since the City choose to sell them the property. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more I look at the differences, I alter between laughter and anger by the lack of corporate responsibility on this project. The original rendering meets every single recommendation that I offered a few posts back (no comparison was done when I offered the round of proposed improvements). The original meets all basic urban design requirements.

 

The final is architecturally uninspiring with attributes of poor urban design. Lastly, it just is lazily inconsistent. Why are the panels completely covering the northern end of the parking garage and the southern end of the parking garage is completely exposed, despite the fact that they are the exact same design. It just lacks logic, coherence, creativity and Grand Rapids deserves better than this.....especially since the City choose to sell them the property. 

 

The DDA sold them the property. In fact, the neighboring property owners had issues with the design, and were dismissed summarily by the developer and the DDA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the story of so many projects in GR.

 

The original design is always something to sell it to the public. One approved, they then go back and submit the REAL one, usually with some BS story as an excuse why the original was no longer feasable and that this is the best they can do or else they will have to scap the whole thing. You dont want that, do you?

 

There is just no other way they could have went from design A to B. They are just too different.

 

Icon on Bond, St. Mary's, and several others have done this. And in the end we end up with these cheap E. Beltline type buildings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still excited to see this project happening - a bad design is better than a parking lot. However, we're going to have to live with this design for decades, so I'd rather that they get it right rather than go the cheap route.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it would appear from the renderings that the additional height from the original renderings to the new renderings is largely due to the parking structure.  Was more onsite parking a requirement for approval?  Did they originally plan on having the parking be more under ground or off site or something?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still excited to see this project happening - a bad design is better than a parking lot. However, we're going to have to live with this design for decades, so I'd rather that they get it right rather than go the cheap route.

 

I actually don't agree. I would rather see a parking lot for another couple of years, knowing that a surface lot can be corrected. Once this goes up, it will be there for the rest of our lives. 

 

Maybe I have an inflated sense of what Grand Rapids is becoming (I keep on hearing GR is on track to become the Portland of the Midwest). Then I see this stuff, that the community and the City/DDA are good with it, and phrases like "It's better than what was there before". The fatalistic attitude reminds that "If it is good enough for Grand Rapids" is not the bar this community should be setting. Would this be good enough in Portland, or Chicago, or Austin, or D.C., (or Long Beach, CA), or any of the other place that Michigan is bleeding young educated residents by the thousands?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually don't agree. I would rather see a parking lot for another couple of years, knowing that a surface lot can be corrected. Once this goes up, it will be there for the rest of our lives. 

 

Maybe I have an inflated sense of what Grand Rapids is becoming (I keep on hearing GR is on track to become the Portland of the Midwest). Then I see this stuff, that the community and the City/DDA are good with it, and phrases like "It's better than what was there before". The fatalistic attitude reminds that "If it is good enough for Grand Rapids" is not the bar this community should be setting. Would this be good enough in Portland, or Chicago, or Austin, or D.C., (or Long Beach, CA), or any of the other place that Michigan is bleeding young educated residents by the thousands?

 

Good points. We should certainly demand higher standards. I would love to see a uniform standard that requires parking decks to be better disguised.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not going to be EIFS.  The zoning ordinance doesn't allow it to be used here. Unless the planning department lets them get away with it.

 

Materials for Traditional Neighborhood - City Center (refer to Table 5.6.08.A)

5.6.08.C.  Materials.

1. Durable building materials, simple configurations and solid craftsmanship are required. Fifty (50) percent of walls visible from public streets, exclusive of wall areas devoted to meeting transparency requirements shall be constructed of: brick, glass; fiber cement siding, metal (beams, lintels, trim elements and ornamentation only); wood lap, stucco, split-faced block, or stone. EIFS, and vinyl or aluminum siding should only be used for accents. Metal siding may be used as a primary building material if allowed by the Planning Commission with Special Land Use approval.

2. Administrative Departure. The Planning Director may approve materials of equivalent or better quality, as determined appropriate for the building, site, and area.

 

Edited by Gorath

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I have an inflated sense of what Grand Rapids is becoming (I keep on hearing GR is on track to become the Portland of the Midwest). Then I see this stuff, that the community and the City/DDA are good with it, and phrases like "It's better than what was there before". The fatalistic attitude reminds that "If it is good enough for Grand Rapids" is not the bar this community should be setting. Would this be good enough in Portland, or Chicago, or Austin, or D.C., (or Long Beach, CA), or any of the other place that Michigan is bleeding young educated residents by the thousands?

I can unequivocally tell you, as drawn, the parking element wouldn't make it past first base in Portland.  Nor would the street level bunker at Icon on Bond.

Just sayin'...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i7IKW8G.jpg

This is the kind of parking structure that we used to get.  Very utilitarian and no ground floor retail.  I think we all agree that this kind of structure makes for a bad urban environment.

 

Siz2bxV.jpg

Now this is so much better.  Ground floor retail.  This is, IMHO, the best looking parking structure in the city.  I think it looks better then some of the new buildings that get built around here.

 

 

HPFipoP.jpg

This is newer then the Leo's structure.  Just how did this get approved?  Sure it has the faux window openings on the upper floors. There's an expression line between the first and second floors. And it has a cornice like thing at the top.  Good things.  But where is the ground floor retail?  Wasn't that required by the zoning ordinance when this was built?  And I thought visibly seeing the sloping ramp from the street wasn't allowed either.  However I can't find anything in the current zoning that says you can't.

 

As for Arena Place. It looks to me that they found a loop hole in the materials requirements to make the exterior walls of a parking ramp look nice by not building any walls at all. :(

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to add, I'm not fond of buildings being built on top of parking ramps.  But I blame the zoning ordinance for this, which requires large new buildings to provide parking.  While I'm sure that the parking requirements can be meet by building a new, separate parking structure that can serve several new buildings.  It's no doubt easier for developers to provide their own parking on site by building the layered cake type building.

 

5.10.04.D.  Traditional Neighborhood City Center (TN-CC) Zone District Parking Requirements.

 

1. Off-street parking shall not be required for any building or structure constructed prior to January 1, 1998 within the TN-CC Zone District, nor for new buildings or cumulative additions to existing buildings with a gross floor area of ten thousand (10,000) square feet or less.

 

2. Off-street parking spaces in the TN-CC Zone District shall be provided for all new buildings or structures and for additions to existing buildings or structures with a gross floor area of more than ten thousand (10,000) square feet. The number of spaces required for all uses shall be one (1) space for each one thousand (1,000) square feet of Gross Floor Area for all non-residential buildings and hotels, and one (1) space per dwelling unit for all dwellings.

 

 

Why don't I like buildings built on top of parking ramps?  Because parking ramps have a life span of about 40-50 years.  Like most bridges they need to be replaced .  And I would hope that developers would plan for their apartment buildings, medical schools and cancer treatment centers to be around for more then 50 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why don't I like buildings built on top of parking ramps?  Because parking ramps have a life span of about 40-50 years.  Like most bridges they need to be replaced .  And I would hope that developers would plan for their apartment buildings, medical schools and cancer treatment centers to be around for more then 50 years.

 

 

I guess I have never thought of that. Well maybe in 50 years they will tear it down and build something to whatever the trend is in 2064

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, am I blinded by the addition of density in that area that has me so excited for this project, or what?

 

I would hope that during the 8 years that this forum has been around, that the group has matured beyond "density is great no matter what it is" to "let's create an urban evironment that combines "density with vibrancy with diversity of incomes with a great sense of place and aesthetics to make this a world class downtown."

 

I'm not sensing that lately at the city. I hope this group maintains that kind of standard..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would hope that during the 8 years that this forum has been around, that the group has matured beyond "density is great no matter what it is" to "let's create an urban evironment that combines "density with vibrancy with diversity of incomes with a great sense of place and aesthetics to make this a world class downtown."

 

I'm not sensing that lately at the city. I hope this group maintains that kind of standard..

When you come from a small time farming community from the east side, Grand Rapids is almost like a mythical place. We all heard of it, few have gone. I remember hearing a friend when i was a kid who visited Grand Rapids excitedly exclaim "it's so cool! It's even got skyscrapers!"

 

So even though Grand Rapids has been my home for several years now, I still get excited when I drive into downtown and look up and see buildings.

 

Frankly, I do believe that building is better then a parking lot. Is it great? No, but I really don't think its bad. It's probably that small time town kid in me.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one positive thing is that they can always add more screening to the parking floors. Whether that ever happens, probably not. Keep in mind too that someday there will be a building to the South of this one and probably either a building to the East or an expanded arena. How will 4 floors of wide-open parking look to those people? Especially when the concrete layers start to build up salt, oil, and start to chip away? Lovely.

 

I think it falls to modifications in the planning documents that address screening of parking, and not just on the ground floor.

 

As someone else mentioned, if you walk around a very dense downtown area of any big city, you'd be hard pressed to figure out where the parking is within the building (and most of them have at least some parking inside the building). In addition, when you're in these downtown areas, your eyes are naturally drawn upward to take in the building above you. Think about all of the historic buildings downtown where the architects added details that you can see from the street, usually only up to the 4th or 5th floor, like cornice work and carved animals and other details. It was meant to instill a sense of awe and excitement for the built environment around you.

 

Now we have architects using CAD where they just draw the building in "function" alone, all stacked (probably even color coded). The parking level has to be property vented anyway, so why not just leave it completely open to the elements? That's designing a building from the inside looking out, instead of it being an integral piece of a dense environment and how it affects the moods of the city around it.

 

Ego-centric design.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.