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Rizzo

Vandenberg Center/Calder Plaza

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What might we see built or not built if this were to become reality?

Discuss....

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If there is any tract of land that seems to be out of place with the fabric of downtown, it is the urban renewal projects in the general area of Calder Plaza. I think we as Grand Rapidians have a love hate relationship with this property and surrounding buildings. The Calder provides us with identity and a consistent image of a public commitment to "renewal" of our urban landscape. The structures, as cold as some may describe fulfill the Calder with a supporting segment of the art work that is Calder Plaza, or Vandenberg as some will passionately call it. With the urban environment changing it is soon that people will say "change please!"

There may have been or will be a point where this land presents an opportunity given the coming circumstances. If you think about it, this large space will soon enough be a synergy of elements provided by hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of tourists, hundreds? of medical professionals, etc... With the convention center you have people with money and being across the street this presents an opportunity for the exchange of money; attractive to folks coming here without their own transit. The growing medical investment on Michigan just a stones throw away we may soon have more then a billion dollars coming to fruition.

With all this culminating within a tight area do you think this presents an opportunity for redevelopment? What might we see built or not built if this were to become reality?

Discuss....

After absorbing some of the details about the historic old buildings demolished to create the plaza, I've been doing some thinking about that space.

Can't see the City signing on for a new city hall. The underground uses are extensive so it's not like you could demolish everything and start over. The space works (sortof) for all the summer festivals; any new pedestrian friendliness would need to be moveable.

Nice to have historic preservation on adjacent blocks. Last year I got to ride past the refurbishing of the building across from the Pantlind every day, and seeing it now I always spend some time admiring it. There's not much to admire about City Hall.

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Jack Buchanan had a great design for the redevelopment of that area. It was too complex and required the cooperation of the city, county and feds, so it never happened. The design, however, was great.

There was a group at the time that argued for the historic protection of the city/county buildings as great examples of modern architecture. They may be old, but they are not great.

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With all this culminating within a tight area do you think this presents an opportunity for redevelopment?

No.

Redevelop the east side of Monroe, redevelop the Federal building, and the 5/3 parking lot, heck, redevelop Ottawa Ave., but don't touch the Calder, the plaza or the city/county buildings.

I just ran the Riverbank 5K, which coincidentially culminated along Ottawa at Calder Plaza. It's a great place to mingle and have a party and it should be preserved.

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There was a group at the time that argued for the historic protection of the city/county buildings as great examples of modern architecture. They may be old, but they are not great.

I hear those city towers were actually done by S.O.M. Give them another decade or so and see how you feel a bout them. They're currently right at the point in the 'style cycle' where buildings like that are most likely to be knocked down. Not quite old enough to be widely accepted as historical, not young enough to be considered new. They're at that point where they are definitely out of fashion and but not so old as to be 'retro cool' except to the elite few.

Its the same thinking that knocked down the old courthouse building. Give those towers another 10 or 20 years and everyones going to start seeing how incredibly cool those hip little towers are.

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I hear those city towers were actually done by S.O.M. Give them another decade or so and see how you feel a bout them. They're currently right at the point in the 'style cycle' where buildings like that are most likely to be knocked down. Not quite old enough to be widely accepted as historical, not young enough to be considered new. They're at that point where they are definitely out of fashion and but not so old as to be 'retro cool' except to the elite few.

Its the same thinking that knocked down the old courthouse building. Give those towers another 10 or 20 years and everyones going to start seeing how incredibly cool those hip little towers are.

I think that the historic preservation movement isn't only about saving old buildings but is also an effective way to block the construction of more junk buildings and surface parking lots (remember the fight over the old Purple east building). It can be valuable from both perspectives.

However, if someone came forward with a proposal to redevelop the Calder block in a manner that had great architecture, increased density and created exceptional urbanism, I would hope that any historic value of the SOM buildings would be seriously weighed against that proposal. That, unfortunately, seldom happens with preservationists.

BTW, the city/county buildings are possibly the most inefficient floorplates in the city. The ratio of useable space to total space is horrible. I agree that the Calder should stay but the plaza is a horribly harsh environment for all but about 6 days a year. It could be much better.

Sometimes it is very appropriate to replace old buildings with something of even more value. That, in fact, has been the history of the city, and as long as the buildings we lament loosing are replaced with stuructures of greater value, I think it's OK. The difficult question is how to define greater value. Any ideas?

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I've come to believe that the City and County building should stay. But there are a lot of things that can happen with the Plaza to make those two, and Calder Plaza, more attractive and user-friendly. And they need a good bath. :sick:

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I envisioned returning the street grid and creating quadrants. On the NW lot there would be an urban park lined with a plaza and botiques -- plenty of tree lined streets.

I do remember a thread where a few people had concerns about the Plaza's wall facing Monroe and how it would interact with users of Devos Place.

When I go to Calder plaza, whether it is to have lunch at The Calder or just to get some tax forms, I think about the space and architecture. Peronally, I am a fan of the design. To me the plaza represents what the 60s thought of civic places and art.

In today's context I'm not a fan of the location and scale.

I guess its still a love-hate.

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I have said it before, I'll say it a thousand times, the redevelopement of Ottawa Ave, from Michigan to Lyon, has cemented us in mediocrity for decades to come. In planning that row, they took beautiful structures, and replaced them with boring ass boxes. I would like to hear more the arguement of why the city and county buildings should stay. I know they were designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, who If they didn't design the sears tower, would have very little notariaty. To me they both are starting to look in Disrepair. I think they look chinsey. And both governments, have out grown their buildings. Personally I think, they should renovate some old warehouses, and move out of those buildings. So should the State, and the feds. As for the other buildings, the financial centers. How would you deal with that? Perhaps 5th 3rd, if they don't get bought out, will one day build a nicer building at that site, and maybe Chase would follow. I can see keeping city hall, to preserve that era in architecture. But good heavens, if market conditions allow, lets get some better, maybe even taller structures, in argueably what could be the coolest section of town.

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I have said it before, I'll say it a thousand times, the redevelopement of Ottawa Ave, from Michigan to Lyon, has cemented us in mediocrity for decades to come. In planning that row, they took beautiful structures, and replaced them with boring ass boxes. I would like to hear more the arguement of why the city and county buildings should stay. I know they were designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, who If they didn't design the sears tower, would have very little notariaty. To me they both are starting to look in Disrepair. I think they look chinsey. And both governments, have out grown their buildings. Personally I think, they should renovate some old warehouses, and move out of those buildings. So should the State, and the feds. As for the other buildings, the financial centers. How would you deal with that? Perhaps 5th 3rd, if they don't get bought out, will one day build a nicer building at that site, and maybe Chase would follow. I can see keeping city hall, to preserve that era in architecture. But good heavens, if market conditions allow, lets get some better, maybe even taller structures, in argueably what could be the coolest section of town.

[Jack, say something if you'd rather not have these posted]

Below are images of Jack Buchanan's proposed hotel that would have replaced the city/county buildings.

I do not have a copy of the much more detailed site concept that included the whole block. It recreated the great urbanism that urban removal destroyed.

Does anyone have accress to images of the complete plan?

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did that plan leave any room, for addtional high rises to be built on that site?

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The #1 thing that plan did was open up the stone wall on Monroe. Wow, does it look nice to see glass and people walking in place of that stupid, ugly wall. I know I'm on a rant here, but I can appreciate the architecture of the city hall/county building, but there is no way I will ever understand why they decided to completely wall off Monroe. If there was a way to get rid of the wall and save the buildings, I could deal with them, but unfortunately, they seem to be quite integrated. I don't know much about the politics of why the Blue Bridge hotel failed, nor do I want to get into it, but I'll just comment that had it gone through, the "coolness factor" of that part of the city would have gone way up.

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did that plan leave any room, for addtional high rises to be built on that site?

Yes. As I recall there were plans to build another tall building on the corner of Ottawa and Michigan (where the beautiful :rofl: and historic :rofl: green brick Federal Building is located).

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I'm pretty sure the blue ridge hotel fell thru, because it was founded on some weak financing. To put it mildly.

Side note, did that proposed hotel, ever have a height attached to it?

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I'm pretty sure the blue ridge hotel fell thru, because it was founded on some weak financing. To put it mildly.

Side note, did that proposed hotel, ever have a height attached to it?

The city declined to sell. The deal was extremely complicated because it required relocating the city and county buildings at no cost to either governmental unit. It was further complicated by the parking ramp and the significant income that the city gets from it. The numbers never got to a level where both parties could agree.

The SE corner of Fulton and Division was a possible location for a new city hall.

I assume that Jack Buchanan spent a great deal of money getting to "no".

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I believe you are right, but from what I remember didn't the city call him out on the finance package he was trying to push? Something out of his playbook, that he tried on the last developement he tried to push thru.

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I did this thread for any development on The Plaza, I would invite JackBBV to sound off his side. I remember hearing Logie and The Press' side. If it was finance that put this project away or politics, it's still interesting to discuss.

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If it wasn't a hotel, I think Buchannan might have gotten more support for it. His biggest problem was that alticor was also planning a hotel at a different site, and when you have alticor, and some unknown duking it out, alticor will win always.

But if I had to decide I would have roads on each side of the plaza there, put zero setback builindgs on each road opposite the plaza, and build a retail center where the city hall site is, move city hall to the empty old ITP lot on Ionia across from the courthouse, and connect it with the commerce building to make it a city/county complex.

of course this means tearing down the buildings to the north and south of city hall, as well as city hall itself. It would be nearly as epic as river grand was for sure.

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Yes. As I recall there were plans to build another tall building on the corner of Ottawa and Michigan (where the beautiful :rofl: and historic :rofl: green brick Federal Building is located).

I just found the overall image on the architect's web site.

This is looking southwesterly at 3 additional buildings that appear much bigger than the hotel.

Notice how the Calder gets featured.

CALDER-PLAZA.jpg

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that's a whole different building than in the rendering. I like that alot, I wonder how tall those buildings would be.

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that's a whole different building than in the rendering. I like that alot, I wonder how tall those buildings would be.

The renderings are of the blue buildings in this quicky SketchUp model.

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The renderings are of the blue buildings in this quicky SketchUp model.

145912193_988c88a369.jpg

The building on the left would have been HUGE. Look how it compares to the 5/3 building behind it. I'm not sure GR could support that much office space (or even condos or apartments.)

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Well i'm sure it wasn't part of the proposal. Probabally just a filler building to show what could be done with the area.

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I hear those city towers were actually done by S.O.M. Give them another decade or so and see how you feel a bout them.

If I remember correctly (and maybe I don't), when the historical preservation debate came up, S.O.M. was asked about the architectural significance of the city hall and county buildings. Their reply: the buildigs are Modern, yes, but really not that significant.

The #1 thing that plan did was open up the stone wall on Monroe. Wow, does it look nice to see glass and people walking in place of that stupid, ugly wall.

Repeated for emphasis. YES.

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