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Rowe Hotel- Olds Manor


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I believe the stained glass windows are part of a small chapel for residents of the manor - which was a retirement home. I've never seen the interior so can't confirm any architectural features or value therein.

As delightful as those windows are, I think it is safe to assume that this bldg will remain empty until a) the soap magnates decide they need another high-end boutique hotel or b) the post office moves and the soap magnates orchestrate an even grander scheme for those parcels combined. I remain convinced that they bought Olds to derail Jack's fantasy for Vandenberg Plaza - and to secure a prime parcel for what might become yet another monument to themselves financed mostly on the backs of local taxpayers (as in the convention center and performance halls that continue to lose money).

Good news is that they're about to get their rooftop helicopter pad - so at least we won't see a platform on top of Rowe/Olds manor.

I couldn't agree more!

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That street level is a total win!

He likes the castle in Grandville. That's about it. LOL Joe  

Are they adding a few floors to the top in order to bring this building up to the Grand Rapids standard of 12 floors?

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While not everyone will agree with you FilmMaker, you raise some good points. I wonder today if downtown GR would be like it is without the arena or convention center, or would it be like Flint, or would it be better (with more outside investment)? Hard to say.

I think there is a shortage of outside investment because the big families seem to proliferate a lot of downtown, from being the biggest clients for some of the law firms and accounting firms, to Justice & Monroe Advertising, to RDV Corp., to the AGP, to the Marriott, Plaza Towers, to their large ownership stake in Spectrum Health, to their ownership of a lot of real estate downtown, to sports team ownerships, to donations to the arena and convention center, and influence on organizations like Grand Action.

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Don't get me wrong, I appreciate their efforts to create an expanding healthcare capability in west Michigan - but don't be so gullible as to think there isn't a strong link between health hill and their own business interests.

Yep.... when I donate time (since I have no money) it often results in business leads and contacts too.

I don't have a problem with it, and any investment in our community of that size is going to benefit everyone from Amway to Z's bar and grill.

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A vast majority of our local residents don't realize that they are no longer a soap company, but are instead one of the very largest health and nutrition companies on the globe. Their role as a major stakeholder in the medical and research presence here is a heavily implied component of their marketing efforts.

So what. If it means more money, investment, and jobs downtown - I could care less that there are selfish motivations. Actually, it is good, it means that the cash will keep flowing. Better than a one time gift that bankrupts the benefactor. These types of self serving gifts are the ones that grow entire industries, not single buildings.

As for the convention center and arena, it was widely known by many people from the very start that similar convention centers of this scale that had been recently built in similarly sized cities were all proving to be a massive drain of local tax dollars.

I would argue in most cases, yes, these things are typically a burden. However, I would also argue that in GR the arena at least has been a huge success for a single reason. GR was terribly underserved. Up to the time the arena was built, there was not a single 4,000 seat or larger venue in the region - a region of one million plus. But, I can see where cities with nothing unique to offer and stagnant populations would have problems squeezing value out of these investments. The very fact that the Van Andel makes the top ten arena's list every single year is testament to the fact that it is working here.

Convention centers are another animal - luckily our center was supported by a lot of private money, removing some of the community and state burden. Will it ever make money, no. Convention centers are a success if they break even. Their real goal is to create visibility and bring people to the region which can develop intangible benefits such as future vacations or relocations - hard to measure. Plus the fact that well, you need a convention center and having a crappy one screams that you have a dumpy, old, stagnant, town.

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Plus the fact that well, you need a convention center and having a crappy one screams that you have a dumpy, old, stagnant, town.

I have to admit that I've been to two conventions at DeVos Place/AGP and I love how great our facilities are and how it shows off our town. Everyone that I talked to from around the state (it was a state-wide convention) loved the place and the city. Before DVP was built, it was held at U of M in really bad, cramped quarters. Everyone agrees that GR is so much better and the convention has grown a TON since moving to GR. Makes me proud of my town. I think that good exposure is worth every penny. Plus, it's great that our arena helps to offset many of those losses, I'm sure many cities can't use that example.

This is getting so off topic, I forgot what thread this was until after I posted and looked! =)

Edited by mgreven
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A vast majority of our local residents don't realize that they are no longer a soap company, but are instead one of the very largest health and nutrition companies on the globe.

>>>Minor correction. They started out as a nutrition company. Nutrilite has been around for over 70yrs and is the largest nutritional supplement company in the world. The soap came after the vitamins. Also, develpments in medical science don't typically help the vitamin supplement industry. They tend to be competing interests. Their investments into medicine have no connection to commercial interests in supplement sales.

A far greater success story would be the establishment of even just one major corporate employer or headquarters downtown where a far greater number of full-time, salaried workers would enjoy the full benefits of above-service-worker wages - - and the city would reap far greater and more stable tax revenue.

>>> You mean like the Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriot, Children's Hospital, VAI Courtyard/Plaza towers, etc?

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I think that has been there for a while.

One of you sketchup fiends should do a picture of what the rowe would look like if it were all fixed up. Every time I go by this place, with its empty, shoddy windows, it bums me out. :(

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While it would NEVER happen, a high-quality hotel/casino redevelopment incorporating the riverfront/post office/Olds Manor would absolutely transform downtown into a regional destination.

Too bad the local climate won't allow it.

isn't it funny now, looking back at it, how "all of a sudden" POWER BROKERS in the city, believe it would be in the best interests of GR to have a Casino....

you guys crack me up, thinking I'm off base... ;-)

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Does anybody besides me ever wonder how much more vibrant our downtown (and our city) would be today if instead of investing in hotels and other projects in the core, Rich and Jay would have just built an office tower downtown as their world headquarters instead of a sprawling campus way out in Ada? I think the same thing about Steelcase. I love the CDC (the pyramid). I only wish it was downtown right on the river.

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Does anybody besides me ever wonder how much more vibrant our downtown (and our city) would be today if instead of investing in hotels and other projects in the core, Rich and Jay would have just built an office tower downtown as their world headquarters instead of a sprawling campus way out in Ada? I think the same thing about Steelcase. I love the CDC (the pyramid). I only wish it was downtown right on the river.

I don't think there is anyone of us who doesn't think about it. Of course the revitalization of downtown might not fit into the success of any of those businesses so it's probably a non issue to move downtown.

BTW, long time no see.

Edited by Rizzo
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If Meijer or Devos or Steelcase, or any big corp in the area relocated downtown, it would be huge overall, but I don't think it would change much from what it is now. The problem is CDB is still a 'business district' in the sense that after 5pm, the majority of the people downtown are gone, fleeing to the suburbs. If any of those corps relocated downtown, all of those people would just contribute to the 5 o'clock black hole...

On the Topic of this thread, I think the Rowe Hotel / Olds Manor would be a very nice building if renovated and finished off. Could be a project similar to the Fitzgerald renovation.

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Does anybody besides me ever wonder how much more vibrant our downtown (and our city) would be today if instead of investing in hotels and other projects in the core, Rich and Jay would have just built an office tower downtown as their world headquarters instead of a sprawling campus way out in Ada? I think the same thing about Steelcase. I love the CDC (the pyramid). I only wish it was downtown right on the river.

Alas, this is exactly the point I was trying to make a few pages back when I semi-sarcastically commented on the "agendas" of local philanthropy. I'll simply repeat that I can't personally fall fully prostrate on my knees in gratitude when the process of inspiring and funding major projects seems to driven by such selective outcomes.

Indeed, had we been "blessed" by a major corp HQ in the core - this would have driven an even greater need for the hotels, meeting centers, eateries and entertainment facilities we seem to have built instead. It's sort of a we-built-the-cart before we had a horse notion. I think our conversations here at UP would be of a different color if we were simply trying to orchestrate the fulfillment of needs already established by a major employer in the core - versus trying to attract a major employer with the "bait" of bars and convention halls.

Then again, pill hill appears to be becoming a major employer of sorts - I just remain skeptical that it will fulfill all that we have been promised it will be... and I still don't think it embodies what a major corp HQ would create... and I'd certainly like to see a much greater consideration of (and perhaps even financial support of?) transit solutions in ANY future philanthropically driven projects of major scale.

Edited by FilmMaker
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Does anybody besides me ever wonder how much more vibrant our downtown (and our city) would be today if instead of investing in hotels and other projects in the core, Rich and Jay would have just built an office tower downtown as their world headquarters instead of a sprawling campus way out in Ada?

The original building (office and manufacturing) was just a mere fraction of what's there today. As their sales grew, they added to the orignal building and then added buildings. I don't think the founders could have afforded to buy the acreage downtown ultimately needed when they first started up. I don't think they ever imagined the company would grow to what it is today. Their office requirements are a small portion of the campus. Manufacturing, warehousing and R&D take up most of the space.

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You know someone on here just might...If I had more time and wasn't out in the burbs during the day it would be me. I've always loved the blue tile near the entry of this building. Wouldn't mind salvaging a bit of it if there is something new happening!

*fish

Go knock three times at that back door, wait a count of five, and knock 2 times.
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Does anybody besides me ever wonder how much more vibrant our downtown (and our city) would be today if instead of investing in hotels and other projects in the core, Rich and Jay would have just built an office tower downtown as their world headquarters instead of a sprawling campus way out in Ada? I think the same thing about Steelcase. I love the CDC (the pyramid). I only wish it was downtown right on the river.

Back to woz's question, what if Amway built a pyramid right on the river. Now that would get some exposure. :blink:

But seriously, if we went back in time 10 years and got rid of the arena or the expanded convention center, and instead had one of the large companies in the area build a HQ downtown, would it be different (more vibrant) today? I really don't think so. Think of all the development around the arena and in Heartside that would most likely still be blighted. Think of no VAI, or the current work on the hill not going in.

Plus, adding 1000 or so office employees to an already downtown worker population of 20,000 or so, would make how much of a difference? I'm not sure. However, I do think now that the other projects are there, a high profile move of a corporate HQs to downtown would help reach that tipping point and just bring added "exposure". But if you look at other mid-sized cities around the country like GR, there are very few corporate moves to downtowns going on. Most of the development seems to be residential, mixed use, or stadium/cultural attractions.

Find a company here in GR that is looking to consolidate a bunch of scattered offices, and that might be a possibility.

Anyway, that's my take. I think we're better off now then if a company like Amway or Steelcase had their HQs downtown (if I had to choose between the two and couldn't have both).

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Agreed GRDad. The Arena and surrounding redevelopment has added energy and nightlife that I don't think one major corporate HQ would do. When I worked downtown, I would only stay late and go to a bar / restaurant about once a month (lunch was a different story). Now that we have the energy downtown, I'd love to see more companies move downtown to capture some of the benefits.

Joe

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You're right GRDad. I lived in Indianapolis in the early 80's and it wasn't the corporate HQ's (Eli Lilly, Simon Malls, AUL insurance) that started the redevelpment of downtown GR. They came late to the party. It was the then "Hoosier Dome" and a few small housing and condo projects that sparked life. Once the dome was finished, an entire nightlife district that had been empty buildings before (sound familiar?) sprung to life to support events that took place at the dome. And when that nightlife had a foothold, the corporate sugar daddies reinvested, out-of-town developers started projects, Simon Malls (with a lot of taxpayer help, a strong mayor of each party, and a lot of local government path clearing) put in the DT shopping. The dome was finished in like 83 or 84 and the downtown mall opened in the mid to late 90's. But the dome, just like Van Andel was step 1. Everything we talk about on Urban Planet will happen in Grand Rapids. It's just a matter of how involved we (the public) stay that will determine how close the development in GR is to what we want. Our neighborhoods and schools are already decades ahead of Indianapolis. With a clear vision of where we want our city to go, there's no reason Grand Rapids can't be as good if not better than Indy or any other Midwest city.

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