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Rowe Hotel- Olds Manor


ericdriver

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Libertarian- I've never hear of that tactic in regards to air rights, but the concept is interesting...

Buying air rights is also a tactic to ensure views are not blocked. For instance, Plaza Towers could buy the air rights over top of the parcel in front of it, ensuring that nothing is built taller than what is currently there...

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All I know is I think Rich DeVos' assesment of the Old Rowe Hotel is completely unaccurate. While the Pantlind was definitely the premiere hotel, The Rowe was not exactly a beotch stepchild. JFK stayed there, I doubt it was the equivalent of a HoJo.

If we lose the Rowe, it will be a SIGNIFICANT loss to downtown architecture. If you haven't had a chance to look at the brickwork and ornamentation, do yourself a favor and check it out.

I will strap myself to this building if they try to knock it down. I don't care what DeVos says, buildings like this don't get built. We need to save it. It's a diamond in the rough and once we get rid of the two hideous "bookends" (Post Office, GR Press), it will only become a more valuable asset.

Don't be short-sighted Rich. This building needs to be embraced, not ripped down. We will regret it if it does get torn down.

Joe

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Libertarian- I've never hear of that tactic in regards to air rights, but the concept is interesting...

Buying air rights is also a tactic to ensure views are not blocked. For instance, Plaza Towers could buy the air rights over top of the parcel in front of it, ensuring that nothing is built taller than what is currently there...

I believe we described the same thing, but in your instance the right to add on vertically was passed in favor of the right to ensure views. The original holder of air rights is nonetheless compensated for not building up, which was what I was getting at. Same means just different ends.

Joe, I am holding you to that promise you just made. :lol:

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Definately agree with that block being one of the worst of downtown.

Ever since the Grand Rapids Press moved over off I-96 by Fruitridge the dowtown building has been almost completely usless, i've just recently noticed that they are building an expansion onto the building off the highway making me wonder after that is complete what will be left of the downtown building.

Those long time residents of the Grand Rapds area will remember the very severe straight line winds that tore through the area, at that time my grandpa lived in an assisted living place off of Alpine by 4 Mile, those storms destoyed that place and my grandpa was forced to move into Olds Manor which at the time was a nursing home. Having spent a fair ammount of time inside i'll be one of the first to say I don't honestly think that there is much that can be done for it, the inside is in such poor shape that very little could be done to fix it, this mind you was back when the GR Police station still sat across the road, anyone even remember that anymore?

Eventually while my grandpa was there the building was condemmed to live in and he was once again forced out of his home. At this time also was when the Devos Place was still in the works and the downtown post office was trying to be moved to obviously no avail, there is sooo much potential for that block but I don't think anything could be done with that building left standing.

Ahwell, I long for the day when a solid plan is actually made, I red something on mlive.com recently it was an interview with the owner of the building in which he said there is no plans i the near future for the property, a shame really...

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Ever since the Grand Rapids Press moved over off I-96 by Fruitridge the dowtown building has been almost completely usless, i've just recently noticed that they are building an expansion onto the building off the highway making me wonder after that is complete what will be left of the downtown building.

We only moved our printing, packaging, a few managemnet offices and distribution center to Walker, everyonbe else still works in the downdown building, which istill holds the majority of the workforce.

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Maybe the GR Press should buy the Rowe, renovate it into office space with retail on the ground level, and sell it's building. I'm sure a move like that would actually add money to their coffers. They could easily negotiate parking into the contract and you know developers are salivating over the possibilities for the current GR Press site.

It would be a very stately building for the Press. I mean, it's not Pantlind (joke), but it would be a very nice building.

Joe

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Maybe the GR Press should buy the Rowe, renovate it into office space with retail on the ground level, and sell it's building. I'm sure a move like that would actually add money to their coffers. They could easily negotiate parking into the contract and you know developers are salivating over the possibilities for the current GR Press site.

It would be a very stately building for the Press. I mean, it's not Pantlind (joke), but it would be a very nice building.

Joe

That's not a bad idea Joe. They have about 4 acres of land where the HQs sits now, on prime Michigan Street and with I-196 frontage (you do the math at current price/acre downtown). Plus, they could consolidate their 1.5 acres of parking North of I-196 into a new ramp in the new development. Their lot in front of Icon on Bond is barely 1/2 full most of the day. Heck, the lot right behind the Press building is barely full. :huh:

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That's not a bad idea Joe. They have about 4 acres of land where the HQs sits now, on prime Michigan Street and with I-196 frontage (you do the math at current price/acre downtown). Plus, they could consolidate their 1.5 acres of parking North of I-196 into a new ramp in the new development. Their lot in front of Icon on Bond is barely 1/2 full most of the day. Heck, the lot right behind the Press building is barely full. :huh:

I would not mind if the Press moved, but developers might shy away from the property if they knew that there was an underground stream running under the Press property that was discovered a few years ago. That's right, when the press still had the hopes of putting the new high speed Presses on the current sight, soil tests (by several companies) revealed that the property could not handle the weight of the giant machines. The origianl plan was to expand at the current sight and not move to Walker. The person who told me about the undersground spring also told me that they were not able to hit bedrock with the soil tests, or something similar to that?

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I would not mind if the Press moved, but developers might shy away from the property if they knew that there was an underground stream running under the Press property that was discovered a few years ago. That's right, when the press still had the hopes of putting the new high speed Presses on the current sight, soil tests (by several companies) revealed that the property could not handle the weight of the giant machines. The origianl plan was to expand at the current sight and not move to Walker. The person who told me about the undersground spring also told me that they were not able to hit bedrock with the soil tests, or something similar to that?

I guess that dashes my dream of seeing a wall of tall building extending from Health Hill all the way to the river. :(

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  • 5 months later...

Chris Knape as a blog entry about Olds Manor today. He mentions that pieces are falling off the side/roof of the building and that the sidewalk around it has been closed. He also talks that he has seen drawings of making the building an apartment complex with parking in the basement and using parking across the street in DeVos Place until the Post Office would move and a larger developement could be built.

"I've seen plans drawn up by a credible architect that would convert the building into apartments with limited parking in the building's basement.

There's additional parking across the street at DeVos Place available on a monthly basis as well as spots in the city-owned riverfront lots north of Int. 196.

I don't know whether the plans are economically feasible, but they deserve a look."

Olds Manor continues to crumble

Has anyone on UP been able to see these apartment plans? Would you be able to enlighten us on this possible "Plan B?" Do people think somthing like this is ecomonically feasible in today's conditions? Depending on what the "Grand Plan" is (if there is one) would these apartments fit into the development if/when the Post Office moves?

Edited by DwntwnGeo
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Chris Knape as a blog entry about Olds Manor today. He mentions that pieces are falling off the side/roof of the building and that the sidewalk around it has been closed. He also talks that he has seen drawings of making the building an apartment complex with parking in the basement and using parking across the street in DeVos Place until the Post Office would move and a larger developement could be built.

"I've seen plans drawn up by a credible architect that would convert the building into apartments with limited parking in the building's basement.

There's additional parking across the street at DeVos Place available on a monthly basis as well as spots in the city-owned riverfront lots north of Int. 196.

I don't know whether the plans are economically feasible, but they deserve a look."

Olds Manor continues to crumble

Has anyone on UP been able to see these apartment plans? Would you be able to enlighten us on this possible "Plan B?" Do people think somthing like this is ecomonically feasible in today's conditions? Depending on what the "Grand Plan" is (if there is one) would these apartments fit into the development if/when the Post Office moves?

Wow! That would be great. I wonder who the architect is? Cornerstone? Design+?

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My feeling is that, if anything were to happen, it would be completely dependent on the post office. Once they decide on a move, things will take shape quickly in regards to plans with the Manor. Devos, I am sure, will use the post office move as an opportunity to build/extend his growing empire. Another hotel complex overlooking the river would seem to be the best option and, I'm assuming, be more economically feasible to build than housing in this market (although a mix would be interesting). The Manor redevelopment is one of the most anticipated projects for me because it has the potential to be a really cool complex similar to the Amway Grand.

By the way, are we reaching critical mass here with hotels for the convention center? With the North Monroe going up, one more hotel would seem to be the most downtown could handle.

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My feeling is that, if anything were to happen, it would be completely dependent on the post office. Once they decide on a move, things will take shape quickly in regards to plans with the Manor. Devos, I am sure, will use the post office move as an opportunity to build/extend his growing empire. Another hotel complex overlooking the river would seem to be the best option and, I'm assuming, be more economically feasible to build than housing in this market (although a mix would be interesting). The Manor redevelopment is one of the most anticipated projects for me because it has the potential to be a really cool complex similar to the Amway Grand.

By the way, are we reaching critical mass here with hotels for the convention center? With the North Monroe going up, one more hotel would seem to be the most downtown could handle.

I think Chris' point, and what some of us have talked about here, is that with the post office staying for at least another 5 years, will the Rowe make it? Or will it get to such a state of disrepair that it becomes a liability for the owners?

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I think Chris' point, and what some of us have talked about here, is that with the post office staying for at least another 5 years, will the Rowe make it? Or will it get to such a state of disrepair that it becomes a liability for the owners?

Unfortunately, the media has reported that Devos doesn't think that it is worth saving, and would be torn down when/if the whole post office site has been redeveloped. When he is quoted as saying that it is not worth saving because it is not historic like the Pantlind, doesn't exactly fill one full of confidence that won't be demolished.

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I do have to say that it seems backwards in my opinion to give all kinds of money to the convention center, and then let a beautiful building next to it sit and rot (with falling debris). If nothing else, at least mothballing the the building and doing some preventative maintenance seems necessary. If this building is torn down, it'll be a real shame. The Rowe has a lot of history, is a building that would be hard to replace in today's world, and could be reused for so many cool uses (a Kimpton style Hotel Monaco would be perfect to liven up the corner- and would fit well within plans for the future (as long as that future meant saving the building).

As caretakers of downtown, this seems very out of character for the DeVos family.

Joe

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Before we all jump on the bandwagon of people not doing a thing for this building, did we miss this in the article:

"owned by the billionaire DeVos and Van Andel families,
who have spent a lot of money
to "button up" the place, but little to improve it."

At what point is it not worth the amount of money to fix it up? How long do you keep putting money into a broken car before it is worth it to buy a newer one with less maintenance but more money up front? I cannot read people's minds or comments, but I don't know what they have planned for this corner. Maybe spending millions to create apartments would not be cost effective if they will make it a mall in five years? Also does anyone know of any other developer that has offered to buy or do something else with this property (other than the apartments mentioned in the article)? IMO I think they are doing some things to keep the building on life support. Rockford Construction was in there a few years ago doing some interior clean up and patching the roof for leaks etc. (IMO that is trying to make the building weather resistant is some aspects) Things could be worse: they could have torn it down for additional surface parking at the Post Office and Convention Center across the street.

Edited by DwntwnGeo
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