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Lmichigan

Vacant Knapp building may get new life

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Well, since Hood hasn't posted the article today, I'd thought I'd make a new thread about it to discuss the future of this building:

Vacant Knapp building may get new life

Landmark could become retail, residential space

By Jeremy W. Steele

Lansing State Journal

Developers could be setting the stage to convert Lansing's landmark J.W. Knapp Co. site into a mix of office, retail and residential space.

Building owner George Eyde confirmed he is in talks with three or four parties who either want to lease or buy the former Knapp's department store location.

Vacant since 2002, the building's 150,000 square feet of usable space represents nearly one-quarter of downtown Lansing's vacant commercial real estate.

"We are working with some different groups that are interested in it," Eyde said.

A deal is not guaranteed, though, because financing and other issues must be worked out.

Eyde also said remodeling the building and leasing it to the state remains an option. It was not immediately clear which state agencies would need that much space.

continued here : http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?A.../602180341/1150

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What is very heartening to hear is that there appears to be a number of parties looking to be part of a renovation. This building is simply perfect for mixed-use development.

I'd like to see mostly office and retail, with maybe a floor or two of residential. I say this because the building has very small and very high windows which would mean they'd probably try and "modernize" the building's exterior if it were to be mostly residential. The big windows (among other things) is what made residential work in the Arbaugh where it might not work so well in the Knapp's Centre.

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I'm going to guess that if 3-4 parties are looking at it, there is a very good chance that something will come of it. My only concern is that they keep the facade of the building intact, and I would really like to see ground floor retail, besides that I'm not too concerned about what they do with the upper floors.

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The reason I'm not so worried about the facade, anymore, is that if the Eyde's hope to capture historic tax credits (like most developers hope to do), they must keep the facade in tact. That is why Richard Karp wasn't able to alter the Arbaugh, and probably why the cornice was added. I believe this tax credit says that you must maintain the historic exterior of the building in order to capture the tax credits.

There are so many different exemptions of such that you can apply for that I don't think the Eyde's would really risk losing the historic tax credit.

At the same time, I thought it would be neat if they could construct some setback penthouses on top, or a restaurant, and use the setback as an outdoor patio in the summer, or even build an enclosed one. The roof is so large that it would be ashame not to utilize it in some way. If not that idea, at least they should try and make it "green" and construct a grassy area on top like they did for the Ford River Rouge Factory in Dearborn. It cuts down on cost to both the tenants and the environment in many different ways.

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I like the idea of a resturaunt that uses the top floor as it's kitchen and main dining space, and when weather permitting, uses the roof as a patio. I think that would be really nice. I also like your idea of using the first floor as sort of a mini mall, the mezzanine level could even be used for smaller businesses. The Hollister building will have something like this, so if that works maybe they will do it with Knapps.

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I can't even imagine what that area of Washington Square must have looked like in its heyday. I mean, you had the Arbaugh Department store at Kalamazoo and Washington on one corner, the J.C. Penny Department Store which is now the Cooley Library on the other corner, and the Knapp's just a few blocks north not to mention an entire Washington Square jam-pakced with retail.

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You also had Woolworths in the Landmark Building and Jupiters (a Kmart owned store) in the Secretary of State building. Also, Arbaughs was Wurzburgs in its more recent years.

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Theres something that just occured to me, if Knapps were to be developed into anything other than office space, or if was remodled and remained office space but was fully leased, it would put downtown in line for another relatively large office project. I had already heard that if office vacancy rates remain below 10% thats a trigger for new space. Take Knapps off the market and you considerably lower the CBD's vacancy rate. Even if the vacancy rate was still at 16.6% as it was 1st qtr '05, taking Knapps off the market would drop the vacancy rate to 10.5%. Thats not considering that the class A space vacancy rates during the same period were 7.5%. I'm comfortble in saying that vacancy rates have dropped significantly in the past year anyways. I've been keeping track of which buildings are for lease and for sale and there aren't nearly as many downtown as there were only a year ago.

Off the top of my head here are a few examples of space that was recently on the market and no londer is:

Comerica Building

Arbaugh (converted)

Hollister Building (only 10k sq ft still available)

Landmark Building

Pheonix Building

Also these buildings are nearly completely leased now:

Michigan National

Ingham Building

Hollister Building (only 10k sq ft still available)

I'm sure I missed some, the only buildings with a significant amount of space left (listed with CBRE, Eyde, Signature Associates or Vlahakis) are 101 S. Washington (30k sq ft), Knapps (190k sq ft) and the Mutual Building (60k sq ft). I suspect that the IBM building is largely vacant also but I don't know who lists it. To me it is clearly time for another large office building downtown, I wouldn't be suprised to see plans by years end.

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But, Knapps was never Class A office space, so outside of what it can do for downtown for foottraffic, it really doesn't factor into the question of a new tower. Any new office tower built, will be class A space (like Capitol View).

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Yes, but the class A vacancy rate is less than 7.5% which, with or without the Knapps building, downtown could use another tower. Also taking Knapps off the market boosts the demand for class B space, which would boost the price of class A space, making new office projects more profitable and more attractive. Either way Knapps will have benifits that arent direct.

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Thanks for pointing that out. I was kind of confused, not realizing how much of an indirect effect the filling of the Knapp's will have on Class A office space.

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I was suprised at how substantial of a space it is too. I figured it would account for a one or two percent difference, but after doing the math I discovered that Knapps accounted for nearly a third of the vacant office space downtown in the first quarter of 2005, an over 5% difference. Also, in that report, CBRE predicts a steadily improving market, not reaching full strength until at least the end of the decade. That is good news to me, because I like to see residential towers go up, but I still want to see more office towers also.

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Regarding the Knapps Building. While I think their are some interesting possibilities for this property, one thing me and a friend were discussing is the problem of the windows if this were to be used as any sort of residential use. They are glass block currently, which means they are not egress windows. Changing these out would certianly change the entire look of the facade. I'm not sure how the codes read regarding office space.

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Regarding the Knapps Building. While I think their are some interesting possibilities for this property, one thing me and a friend were discussing is the problem of the windows if this were to be used as any sort of residential use. They are glass block currently, which means they are not egress windows. Changing these out would certianly change the entire look of the facade. I'm not sure how the codes read regarding office space.

I started posted something along this line a few weeks ago, but it wasn't posting properly and I gave up. I like the look of the building with glass block but this really resticts what can be done with it. Maybe, if there was a way to keep sections of block and add stylisticlly appropriate windows at regular intervals around the building without interupting the effect of horizontal bands running around the building? :dontknow:

edit: but wait, I'm thinking about how the building could be made more transparent to give residential units actual views. Your talking about window for egress. I beleive that highrise residential buildings don't need egress windows, only proper escape stairwells.

Lmichigan, if you don't mind, I moved this picture here from another thread for reference, and mostly for my own purposes since everytime I want to get a good sense of what this building looks like I have to search it out.

716__knapp_centre.jpg

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Thanks, Andrew.

Personally, as I said above, I think because of the windows it would probably be best to simply reuse it as office space again, but with a major retail component on the ground floor.

If they did do retail, they could simply rework the top, but even then, the windows are very high from the floor, not something you look out of.

Hood remembers this, but back in 2000 or so, the current owner of the building wanted to remove the ENTIRE facade and clad it all in reflective glass, keeping the curve of the building along the corner, though. Needless to say that there was quite an outcry being that this is one of the most unique examples of art moderne architecture on a retail building in the Midwest.

Personally, I'd just like to see them use the first floor and mezzanine as a retail mall, use the next 2-3 floors as various office space, and use the top floor as an upscale restaurant. Not everything as to be residential, especially considering when there are countless lofts along Washington Square and the sidestreets.

The other thing that makes this tough for residential is the huge floor plates. You'd have to have huge units to make sure everyone got windows with their unit

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True, some buildings simply don't work with residential conversion. Besides, it's not like office buildings have gone out of fasion.

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I'm not saying it couldn't work, but it would require some major reconstruction of the building, and more likely than not that would require the removal of the facade which I'm against at all cost.

Just to show you how much of a block this thing really is, here is a typical floor layout:

19634B66-BB52-47B8-82DB-BA7B7A9319F7_or.jpg

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That's one of my favorite buildings in Lansing. I'd love to see it put back to use.

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I'm not saying it couldn't work, but it would require some major reconstruction of the building, and more likely than not that would require the removal of the facade which I'm against at all cost.

When you look at that facade though its not in that great of shape, plus those are really bad windows, actually glass brick. When you're talking redevelopment the facade might have to be collateral damage. I think the city would much rather have a building increasing in value with a couple hundred employees putting it to use with a different facade than an empty building with a nostalgic facade covering it.

I understand people's reluctance to support anything that would change the exterior of that building but there comes a time where you have to take the big picture into account. From looking at the building (I've never been inside) it seems like those windows are relatively high on the wall, and I'm guessing they're over most people's heads... so even if you replaced the glass brick a lot of people couldn't even see out onto the street! What office or residence would want that?

If something happens there I'm sure, due to the public hostility, they'll try to do everything they can to preserve as much of the facade as possible, but like I said, there comes a time where there may be more important things at stake than preserving a decaying exterior on a vacant building.

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It's certainly a tough building to renovate. The only thing it could work as in its current form is a retail building like it was before which doesn't need many windows.

To tell you the truth, if they have to strip it down to its support system, they might as well just demolish the whole thing and start again for all I care.

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It's certainly a tough building to renovate. The only thing it could work as in its current form is a retail building like it was before which doesn't need many windows.

To tell you the truth, if they have to strip it down to its support system, they might as well just demolish the whole thing and start again for all I care.

I did some more research, and maybe its not new information, but those panels are extremely difficult to come by and obtrusively expensive to produce.

I was in Dimitri's the other day where they have an old aerial picture of washington square, it amazed me how many cool store fronts they had along the mall there that got torn down north of ottawa. IMO they didn't exactly replace them with anything worth holding onto either. Its really a shame that even if they open up that section of the square to traffic there is pretty much 0 chance of any retail along there (other than MAYBE the MDA building)

If the Knapps building's facade isn't salvagable it probably would be cheaper to just tear the thing down a build some smaller footprint buildings (or taller building with smaller floor plates) than to suffer the public backlash from altering the facade and trying to make it work in as a non-retail venue. I have a feeling that the state won't be in any hurry to sign a contract to use the space given their exodous last time.

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I also agree that if they don't save the facade they may as well tear it down, saving it minus the facade would be pointless.

As for N Washington Sq. I think that if it restored to a normal street, which is scheduled for '07, that some of the boring 2-5 story buildings will be replaced and highrises will be built in their place. I always wanted to see N Washington become an office highrise district, occupied by a few corporate headquarters. I posted something on Washington Sq. awhile ago, here's the quote, to view the rest of the comments go here they start at post #79.

Downtown retail will be a great thing, but something will have to be done with North Washington, including opening up the 300 block. Tearing down the Capitol Bancorp, Pheonix Building, MDA building and the LCC building, see pictures below. North Washington lacks any identity in the 200-300 blocks, theres a bunch of ugly 1970's buildings, the only good thing is the Victor Building, which is set up for ground floor retail. IMO all of the buildings pictured below should be demolished, they offer nothing to the street level.

Pheonix Building

Pheonixbuilding.jpg

MDA Building

MDAbuilding.jpg

Capitol Bancorp Building

capitolbancorp.jpg

320 N Washington

320nwashington.jpg

309 N Washington

309nwashington.jpg

LCC Building

building_continental.jpg

Also, Lmich, I had heard someone saying they were considering adding a fifth floor to the downtown YMCA at Ionia & Washington, you heard anything on this?

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I did some more research, and maybe its not new information, but those panels are extremely difficult to come by and obtrusively expensive to produce.

I was in Dimitri's the other day where they have an old aerial picture of washington square, it amazed me how many cool store fronts they had along the mall there that got torn down north of ottawa. IMO they didn't exactly replace them with anything worth holding onto either. Its really a shame that even if they open up that section of the square to traffic there is pretty much 0 chance of any retail along there (other than MAYBE the MDA building)

If the Knapps building's facade isn't salvagable it probably would be cheaper to just tear the thing down a build some smaller footprint buildings (or taller building with smaller floor plates) than to suffer the public backlash from altering the facade and trying to make it work in as a non-retail venue. I have a feeling that the state won't be in any hurry to sign a contract to use the space given their exodous last time.

You'd be surprised. I've seen some very interesting facade reconstructions that while they don't use the original material, can use other materials made to closely resemble the old materials. The facade of the Knapps is "Macotta" which is metal plates coated with colored enamel. This couldn't be too hard to recreate with EIFS.

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