Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
GRDadof3

GR: The city of 12 stories

37 posts in this topic

It seems that a lot of the projects going up lately are about 12 stories. Probably not 13 because most elevators don't go to floor 13. :)

 

I've been thinking about this and it must be a scale thing for Grand Rapids. Between available financing, availability of on-site parking, cost of land, propensity to lease commercial/residential space, and construction costs, 12 stories must be the magic number:

 

Arena Place

Gallery

20 Fulton East

Sibsco project

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


It's the zoning ordnance that limits them.

 

Maximum height in that part of downtown is 90 feet, which is about 7 floors.  But there is also bonus height that you can get by following certain guidelines.  The maximum total height for buildings with bonuses is 175 feet, or about 14 floors.

 

Based on my reading the zoning code I have guesstimated the following;

 

Arena Place is 11 floors.

7 floors plus 4 bonus floors.  They get a bonus that awards 4 stories for "At least thirty (30) percent of the gross floor area is designed and committed to residential use."

 

Gallery on Fulton is 14 floors.

7 floors plus 7 bonus floors.  They get a bonus that awards 7 stories for "One hundred (100) percent of the gross floor area of this bonus height is designed and committed to residential use exclusively."   Gallery is also at the maximum height of 175 feet.  Note: Gallery may be breaking the rules as I think only the top 6 floors are residential.  But Gallery's construction was started before the current "form based" zoning ordinance was adopted. So the rules may have been different at the time it was built.

 

20 Fulton East

This was first proposed as 14 floors, it may still be 14 floors.

But same as Gallery, 7 floors plus 7 bonus floors of 100% residential.

 

Sibsco project

Proposed as 13 stories.  It may look like 12 stories, but the "observation deck?" and elevator lobby on the upper roof counts as the 13th story by code.

7 floors plus 4 bonus floors plus 2 more bonus floors.

I believe they are applying a 4 story bonus for "At least fifty (50) percent of the gross floor area of the ground floor designed and committed to retail use."

And they are using the rooftop garden to get 2 more bonus stories from "At least twenty five (25) percent of the site area is designed and committed to urban open space."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Imagine my disappointment when I saw the BOB tower getting reduced six floors. I am glad to see height being added to downtown, but I would really like to see some variation. If everything is the same, it will get dull real fast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the zoning ordnance that limits them.

 

Maximum height in that part of downtown is 90 feet, which is about 7 floors.  But there is also bonus height that you can get by following certain guidelines.  The maximum total height for buildings with bonuses is 175 feet, or about 14 floors.

 

Based on my reading the zoning code I have guesstimated the following;

 

Arena Place is 11 floors.

7 floors plus 4 bonus floors.  They get a bonus that awards 4 stories for "At least thirty (30) percent of the gross floor area is designed and committed to residential use."

 

Gallery on Fulton is 14 floors.

7 floors plus 7 bonus floors.  They get a bonus that awards 7 stories for "One hundred (100) percent of the gross floor area of this bonus height is designed and committed to residential use exclusively."   Gallery is also at the maximum height of 175 feet.  Note: Gallery may be breaking the rules as I think only the top 6 floors are residential.  But Gallery's construction was started before the current "form based" zoning ordinance was adopted. So the rules may have been different at the time it was built.

 

20 Fulton East

This was first proposed as 14 floors, it may still be 14 floors.

But same as Gallery, 7 floors plus 7 bonus floors of 100% residential.

 

Sibsco project

Proposed as 13 stories.  It may look like 12 stories, but the "observation deck?" and elevator lobby on the upper roof counts as the 13th story by code.

7 floors plus 4 bonus floors plus 2 more bonus floors.

I believe they are applying a 4 story bonus for "At least fifty (50) percent of the gross floor area of the ground floor designed and committed to retail use."

And they are using the rooftop garden to get 2 more bonus stories from "At least twenty five (25) percent of the site area is designed and committed to urban open space."

 

 

Those height limits must be because they're in Heartside? I haven't looked at that in a long time, thanks for the refresher. Not that I mind new buildings but it would be nice to have some variation. Even a difference of a couple of floors, the buildings will look similar from a distance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those height limits must be because they're in Heartside? I haven't looked at that in a long time, thanks for the refresher. Not that I mind new buildings but it would be nice to have some variation. Even a difference of a couple of floors, the buildings will look similar from a distance.

Well, from a distance, I think this Sibsco project at Weston and Division will look much taller than just about everything nearby except for Gallery, because of the topographical differences.  It will certainly tower above the arena and 38 commerce, and even Blue 35.  Should have a pretty good view.

 

I'm most interested in continuing to add density and residents to continue to build toward supporting more retail and a more 24-hour, vibrant downtown.

Edited by fotoman311

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would trade Riverhouse for 28 4-story buildings that combined would equal the same sq. footage. Put those anywhere in DT, and you will change everything overnight.

 

That would have a far more positive impact than these singular towers that so far have seemed to have added little in terms of pedestrian activity and spin-off development.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would trade Riverhouse for 28 4-story buildings that combined would equal the same sq. footage. Put those anywhere in DT, and you will change everything overnight.

 

That would have a far more positive impact than these singular towers that so far have seemed to have added little in terms of pedestrian activity and spin-off development.

I really like Riverhouse, but I hate the location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would trade Riverhouse for 28 4-story buildings that combined would equal the same sq. footage. Put those anywhere in DT, and you will change everything overnight.

 

That would have a far more positive impact than these singular towers that so far have seemed to have added little in terms of pedestrian activity and spin-off development.

 

I tend to agree GRU. I've even heard of buildings like River House called vertical gated communities, because they seldom tend to add any street level activity. People drive into the private garage and close the door behind them.

 

And the higher you go, the more parking you need to provide in a city like GR.

 

Just thought it was interesting. Washington DC is pretty vibrant and nothing is taller than 2x the street width (or some similar formula devised by the French).

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


As concrete is by far the most environmentaly damaging material, one building is better than five.

Having bike lanes and pushing green buildings would make a one for five deal disingenuous.

I'm not sure of the maths but I'd bet that five buildings are more envorimentally damaging than all the cars GR has managed to take off the road by building bike lanes.

Edited by temporary.name

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As concrete is by far the most environmentaly damaging material, one building is better than five.

Having bike lanes and pushing green buildings would make a one for five deal disingenuous.

I'm not sure of the maths but I'd bet that five buildings are more envorimentally damaging than all the cars GR has managed to take off the road by building bike lanes.

 

Seriously? I'd like to see the maths and sciences behind this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to agree GRU. I've even heard of buildings like River House called vertical gated communities, because they seldom tend to add any street level activity. People drive into the private garage and close the door behind them.

And the higher you go, the more parking you need to provide in a city like GR.

Just thought it was interesting. Washington DC is pretty vibrant and nothing is taller than 2x the street width (or some similar formula devised by the French).

I can tell you, Plaza Towers generates a ton of foot traffic from its apartments and condos alone. And the hotel really adds to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously? I'd like to see the maths and sciences behind this one.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_concrete

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/oct/12/climatechange

Kiln fired cement uses an incredible amount of coal. Volcanic ash can be used in place of it but it needs to be retrieved from a volcano and it stinks.

Additionallly, once those five buildings, with a larger surface area than one, heat up, they take longer than other materials to cool down, causing the heat island effect that even a city as small as GR sees.

Edited by temporary.name

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_concrete

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/oct/12/climatechange

Kiln fired cement uses an incredible amount of coal. Volcanic ash can be used in place of it but it needs to be retrieved from a volcano and it stinks.

Additionallly, once those five buildings, with a larger surface area than one, heat up, they take longer than other materials to cool down, causing the heat island effect that even a city as small as GR sees.

 

 

We are not seeing enough of this heat island. Tell me more about it, and how do we encourage it. 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_concrete

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/oct/12/climatechange

Kiln fired cement uses an incredible amount of coal. Volcanic ash can be used in place of it but it needs to be retrieved from a volcano and it stinks.

Additionallly, once those five buildings, with a larger surface area than one, heat up, they take longer than other materials to cool down, causing the heat island effect that even a city as small as GR sees.

 

It's fly ash from coal plants.  Not volcanic ash.  As for the rest, you can't possibly be serious.  You think glass high rises are environmentally friendly versus a low rise brick building?  Not to mention the long term upkeep and maintenance costs of using specialized materials that are impossible to find in 40 years?  And urban heat islands?  Seriously?  What do you propose instead?  Knocking downtown over and replacing it with grass?  And just what do you think the upper floors of a high rise are built out of versus a low rise?  Feathers and magic beans?  I smell a bit of trolling...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's fly ash from coal plants.  Not volcanic ash.  As for the rest, you can't possibly be serious.  You think glass high rises are environmentally friendly versus a low rise brick building?  Not to mention the long term upkeep and maintenance costs of using specialized materials that are impossible to find in 40 years?  And urban heat islands?  Seriously?  What do you propose instead?  Knocking downtown over and replacing it with grass?  And just what do you think the upper floors of a high rise are built out of versus a low rise?  Feathers and magic beans?  I smell a bit of trolling...

 

I said volcanic ash could be used in place of fly ash. 

 

I never said anything about brick either. I said concrete. While bricks can / do use cement as a binder and even some bricks are concrete bricks; I'm specifically talking about poured concrete structures. 

 

Your disregard for my intentional wording and bastar dization* of it demonstrates to me your desire for no real discussion and warrants no further response from me to you. Forcing words upon someone else and being condescending is trolling. 

 

*urbanplanet censors this non-offensive word.

Edited by temporary.name
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I said volcanic ash could be used in place of fly ash. 

 

I never said anything about brick either. I said concrete. While bricks can / do use cement as a binder and even some bricks are concrete bricks; I'm specifically talking about poured concrete structures. 

 

Your disregard for my intentional wording and bastar dization* of it demonstrates to me your desire for no real discussion and warrants no further response from me to you. Forcing words upon someone else and being condescending is trolling. 

 

*urbanplanet censors this non-offensive word.

 

No, I'm pretty sure you have never had a desire for real discussion about anything.  Or I just lack a sense of humor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright you two. Moving on.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic I am way late on posting to...saw this back then...just never replied.

 

Have often wondered(even discussed on UP) what's up with all of the new 12-story buildings here in Baton Rouge LA?...a city about the size of Grand Rapids. The last 5 high-rises that have been built are EXACTLY 12-stories...not 11 or 13...Why? 

 

Back in the late 90's Urban Planner Andres Duany helped lead a successful downtown revitalization(Plan BR) & suggested nothing Taller than 12-floors.  Seems to be merely a coincidence? The proposed 30-story River Place residential tower plans failed a few years ago. I agree there is more to a city than just tall buildings(as discussed here); a vibrant streetscape is vital; however it's still a bit frustrating to see other cities skylines grow taller; at least some density has been added.

 

At least 2 of the Top 5 Tallest in Grand Rapids were built since 2000....in BR (Top 5 built by the late 80's) nothing has been built taller than 12-stories since the late 80's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic I am way late on posting to...saw this back then...just never replied.

 

Have often wondered(even discussed on UP) what's up with all of the new 12-story buildings here in Baton Rouge LA?...a city about the size of Grand Rapids. The last 5 high-rises that have been built are EXACTLY 12-stories...not 11 or 13...Why? 

 

Back in the late 90's Urban Planner Andres Duany helped lead a successful downtown revitalization(Plan BR) & suggested nothing Taller than 12-floors.  Seems to be merely a coincidence? The proposed 30-story River Place residential tower plans failed a few years ago. I agree there is more to a city than just tall buildings(as discussed here); a vibrant streetscape is vital; however it's still a bit frustrating to see other cities skylines grow taller; at least some density has been added.

 

At least 2 of the Top 5 Tallest in Grand Rapids were built since 2000....in BR (Top 5 built by the late 80's) nothing has been built taller than 12-stories since the late 80's

 

 

That is interesting. I think a lot of the planning department are fans of Duany and Jane Jacobs. Perhaps that had a lot of influence when Grand Rapids re-did it's master plan back 10 - 15 years ago? I'd have to do some research. Or maybe the consultants they hired (they always hire consultants) had similar 12 story ideals in mind. 13 is bad luck of course. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It could also just be economics.  Construction costs increase significantly as height increases.  Market demand and availability of land dictate the height of buildings.  It's interesting that Baton Rouge and Grand Rapids were compared.  As well as being similar in size, they are both relatively thriving second largest cities in states where the big city has well known problems. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It could also just be economics.  Construction costs increase significantly as height increases.  Market demand and availability of land dictate the height of buildings.  It's interesting that Baton Rouge and Grand Rapids were compared.  As well as being similar in size, they are both relatively thriving second largest cities in states where the big city has well known problems. 

 

I agree, I think the scale of professional service firms in this area lend themselves to smaller footprints. The largest employers here are the healthcare organizations, which have their own campuses, and manufacturers, which are predominantly in the burbs. The myriad of professional service firms like attorneys, financial planners, architects/engineers, accountants, etc, have 150 - 200 people. No need for 30 or 40 story office buildings. In fact, most would rather be in a redeveloped historic building. 

 

I'll have to check out Baton Rouge. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Baton Rouge is interesting but a few things it has going for it is capitol and state jobs, primer college in that state and major interstate I think can change things quickly for an area vs. GR being off the beaten path. 

 

other observation is GR could still fit a very nice iconic tall building 500-700 ft range but theres probably only 2 or 3 lots open to fit where it would look good to balance out the rest of the skyline, the GRAM would have been perfect so I hope those other areas dont all fill up with 12 story buildings! Its like the suburbs and the 3 story office buildings everywhere

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't there a plan for a 500 footer in the early 2000s on the Ellis lot across from the Waters Building?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't there a plan for a 500 footer in the early 2000s on the Ellis lot across from the Waters Building?

The Lyon at Ottawa Tower.  I wanna say it was topped out around 450.  I think it was a precursor for one of the partners of CWD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.