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metrogrkid

Calder Plaza/GR Press/Olds Manor Super-Development Site

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On the northern and western sides of Devos Place, there are multiple opportunities coming together that will have a profound impact on the intersection of Monroe Avenue NW and Michigan Street NW:

1. OLDS MANOR / US POST OFFICE SITE: With our own US Representative Vern Ehlers purportedly heading up the Appropriations Committee for USPS Funding, with his friend Rich DeVos owning the Olds Manor and with regional leaders making a case to move USPS-Downtown out to a new hub at Ford Airport, the combined USPS-Dowtown/Olds Manor site could easily be tranformed into an ersatz "mega" Grand Plaza-type development with refurbishing of the Olds component (a la The Pantlind), the addition of multiple high-rise towers (two or three 20-30 story towers) to house additional hotel space (downtown still needs 1,600 new rooms even with the JW) and housing plus a base/podium building with a small atrium of destination retail and a skywalk across Michigan into the skywalk juncture already built into DeVos Place's NE corner.

2. GRAND RAPIDS PRESS SITE: With The Press making obvious moves to relocate all of its operations out to its Walker campus, one of THE MOST high profile development footprints is nearing availability. Imagine taking the same four-level volume of the current Press building and its back parking area all the way up to I-196/Ford Freeway and making that volume a four-level atrium mall with 80-100 stores, anchored by a Nordstrom at the Monroe/Michigan end and a Lord & Taylor at the Michigan/Ottawa end. On top of this atrium mall would be space for three highrise towers (20-40 stories) that could house convention hotel, housing and office uses (all connected directly to the atrium retail area) and provide an opportunity for skywalk connections to the Olds Manor/USPS development and to any Calder Plaza development.

3. CALDER PLAZA/DEVOS PLACE: Our center of the CBD is going to soon share a Streetrail station with DeVos Place creating a high-profile midpoint for the Streetrail's Sixth Street Bridge Station to the north and main hub at Central Station to the south. This station and its proximity to Calder Plaza'a parking garage hole next to Fifth Third Center could take a page from the recent thread that mentioned this same site and create another vertical shopping/entertainment atrium from this hole and cap it with a major/signature mixed use highrise (40-50 stories) that contained offices, housing and convention hotel space. This site would dually bring more attention and foot-traffic to Calder Plaza Proper (especially during non-Festival/non-special event times) as well as the provision of another opportunity for skywalk connections from it to both DeVos Place and the GRPress development site.

The combined development of something like this would create an enormously dense and utilized core of downtown and set the stage for North Downtown to explode next across the Ford Freeway. WOW :o

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I like these ideas.

Now all we need is someone to step up with $3 billion or so, along with coordinating all the different entities involved.

Preferably, you'll have all this done so we can break ground in June, ok?

:P

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I like these ideas.

Now all we need is someone to step up with $3 billion or so, along with coordinating all the different entities involved.

Preferably, you'll have all this done so we can break ground in June, ok?

:P

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$3 billion is a big number, no doubt...

But when you consider the economic and social impact of that kind of density and activity in the core, it's a steal.

Still, it's a good bit of pie in the sky thinking anything like what you propose could be seriously considered, let alone acted upon given current market and political conditions.

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The ideas are very ambitious to say the least. But I think with the need for extra hotel rooms, and a disparate need to get retail DT their is mounting pressure to see some form of these three ideas at minimum. I would love to see a multiple 30-40 hi-rises in place of the GR Press HQ and a 50 story signature at Calder Plaza. Once Medical Mile is complete the height will be there to blend some big towers nicely into the rest of the skyline.

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Throw a PAC into the pack and I'm there! :) I think if we suspended all realism for a minute, I could see a large-scale 5 - 7 year plan to do a lot of this (not at once, but in bits and chunks, one feeding off another). Perhaps unveiled in 2009 (not 2008 and a big election year). I like the Vern Ehlers and the USPS aspect, that I didn't know about. And it would be great to get a new federal center on top of it all as well, in honor of Gerald R. Ford's passing.

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With The Press making obvious moves to relocate all of its operations out to its Walker campus...

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They've said they have no plans to move, but if given an offer for the building which will bring growth and development downtown, they would accept it.

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They've said they have no plans to move, but if given an offer for the building which will bring growth and development downtown, they would accept it.

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The Press should purchase the old JA Building at Division and Fulton and the parking lot to the east up to Sheldon. It would make an ideal site for a new corporate/editorial GR Press building. I would hope that they stay downtown and moving to that site would have some historical meaning as the empty lot at Fulton and Sheldon was once home to the Grand Rapids Herald. Combined with the thought of opening up their current Michigan St. site to new development and a possible Post Office move makes me dizzy. I believe the county owns land north of 196 on Monroe - a move for them into a new building along the river along with a newly renovated City Hall/Calder Plaza (with GR taking over the old county bldg.) would be way cool and thinking about a replacement for the Federal Bldg. (even if it was just re-skinned) is almost too much to take in in one day.

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... as the empty lot at Fulton and Sheldon was once home to the Grand Rapids Herald.

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Back in the '80s I discovered a report that looked like some kind of appraisal or feasability study for that building that was prepared after the Press had moved to its new building. I donated it to the archives in the Ryerson Library (should still be there if you want to look it up). From what I remember, the report indicated that the building was structurally very sound.

Unfortunately, like many other buildings downtown during that era, it was replaced with surface parking.

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The Press should purchase the old JA Building at Division and Fulton and the parking lot to the east up to Sheldon. It would make an ideal site for a new corporate/editorial GR Press building.

....

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$3 billion is a big number, no doubt...

But when you consider the economic and social impact of that kind of density and activity in the core, it's a steal.

Still, it's a good bit of pie in the sky thinking anything like what you propose could be seriously considered, let alone acted upon given current market and political conditions.

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The Press has a lot more land in downtown than just its headquarters building. I added it up a few years back for a story and found them to be the third largest private owner of surface property downtown (depending on how far north you go). They are more likely to sell off more of their parking lots than their headquarters.

The gist I got was that they would be willing to move, but it would take a very profitable offer to get them out of there. Keep in mind that despite its interest in seeing downtown blossom, the Press has to answer to its corporate parents. Frankly, I have a hard time envisioning a situation where moving is in the Press' best interests financially. Yes, that is more building than they probably need, especially with the downsizing--but they own it. And unlike everyone else downtown, they have so much surface parking they are able to rent it out to other institutions. Operationally, I don't think you could give the Press a better site. It's practically across the street from where 60 percent or so of the news in this region happens (the city, police, county, courthouse and Medical Mile), easy access to both highways, lots of parking, etc. etc.

If it were my call, I don't think I'd move unless someone was giving me a building for free and whole lot more. They're never moving their headquarters to Walker. Whatever "obvious" signs you're seeing don't jibe with reality.

I think you might have pulled your other ideas out of a 2002 time capsule. That Vern Ehlers/Olds Manor/USPS rumor has been in play for the better part of a decade. No one from the post office has ever said it would be a good idea to move out to the airport. That came straight from the mouth of the eldest DeVos. As a G.R. resident, I'd prefer it stay there. If those union jobs were traded for anything but a corporate headquarters to the city would lose millions of dollars (the city commission did the math a long time ago, the property taxes on a hotel, especially considering the DDA capture, would create a financial crisis). What the powers that be should be trying to do is figure out a way to provide some private parking on the post office site. Someone might want to reference BBV for the Calder City plan.

And on a final note (no work today, my new job gives me too much free time), where did this myth of a hotel room shortage downtown come from? I haven't seen the latest occupancy rates, but pre-JW they were sitting at around 60 percent. And when did this railcar thing get approved? I don't the good money is on that coming through.

Oh, and because I spent so much of my 2006 chasing mystery development leads. I have to wonder who you're going to put in any of these office buildings. This theory that development can be like the third Matrix movie--where you flip a switch and suddenly the city turns into a utopia--just doesn't work.

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They urban renewed its arse, of course. :)

Joe

Wow.... what happened to the old press building?

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Not in a good mood today, eh Schoon? :)

I don't think it's totally unfeasible to think that the GR Press would move.

A) You've got DeVos rollin' down the hill with the RSC development. The next large chunk of land around is the GR Press. And DeVos paid $5 million for a Burger King, who's to say the money is not there?

B) While the Grand Rapids Press building is paid for, it seems like it is getting to the age where maintenance on such a big building (plus, what are the taxes?) are going to start to erode the "value" of the building.

C) It's fun to dream. The post office will move some day. Whether you want to fight the feasibility of such a move, it is still an incredibly valuable piece of the real estate puzzle and I'm sure one that the powers that be are wringing their hands to get.

Joe

And on a final note (no work today, my new job gives me too much free time), where did this myth of a hotel room shortage downtown come from? I haven't seen the latest occupancy rates, but pre-JW they were sitting at around 60 percent. And when did this railcar thing get approved? I don't the good money is on that coming through.

Oh, and because I spent so much of my 2006 chasing mystery development leads. I have to wonder who you're going to put in any of these office buildings. This theory that development can be like the third Matrix movie--where you flip a switch and suddenly the city turns into a utopia--just doesn't work.

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The Press has a lot more land in downtown than just its headquarters building. I added it up a few years back for a story and found them to be the third largest private owner of surface property downtown (depending on how far north you go). They are more likely to sell off more of their parking lots than their headquarters.

The gist I got was that they would be willing to move, but it would take a very profitable offer to get them out of there. Keep in mind that despite its interest in seeing downtown blossom, the Press has to answer to its corporate parents. Frankly, I have a hard time envisioning a situation where moving is in the Press' best interests financially. Yes, that is more building than they probably need, especially with the downsizing--but they own it. And unlike everyone else downtown, they have so much surface parking they are able to rent it out to other institutions. Operationally, I don't think you could give the Press a better site. It's practically across the street from where 60 percent or so of the news in this region happens (the city, police, county, courthouse and Medical Mile), easy access to both highways, lots of parking, etc. etc.

If it were my call, I don't think I'd move unless someone was giving me a building for free and whole lot more. They're never moving their headquarters to Walker. Whatever "obvious" signs you're seeing don't jibe with reality.

I think you might have pulled your other ideas out of a 2002 time capsule. That Vern Ehlers/Olds Manor/USPS rumor has been in play for the better part of a decade. No one from the post office has ever said it would be a good idea to move out to the airport. That came straight from the mouth of the eldest DeVos. As a G.R. resident, I'd prefer it stay there. If those union jobs were traded for anything but a corporate headquarters to the city would lose millions of dollars (the city commission did the math a long time ago, the property taxes on a hotel, especially considering the DDA capture, would create a financial crisis). What the powers that be should be trying to do is figure out a way to provide some private parking on the post office site. Someone might want to reference BBV for the Calder City plan.

And on a final note (no work today, my new job gives me too much free time), where did this myth of a hotel room shortage downtown come from? I haven't seen the latest occupancy rates, but pre-JW they were sitting at around 60 percent. And when did this railcar thing get approved? I don't the good money is on that coming through.

Oh, and because I spent so much of my 2006 chasing mystery development leads. I have to wonder who you're going to put in any of these office buildings. This theory that development can be like the third Matrix movie--where you flip a switch and suddenly the city turns into a utopia--just doesn't work.

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Joe, With the planned Street Car line running up Monroe and the proximity to most of the DT's key features and highways, the piece of land The GR Press HQ sits on is about as prime as prime can get. Surely the Press knows this. I think if somebody would offer the Press the right price, that ugly press building would be as good as demoed. So its only a matter of time now.

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The Post Office pays no property taxes, and I find it hard to believe that the employees pay city income tax. Anyone know for sure? I assumed all the government employees in the city (county, city, state and federal employees) did not pay city income tax ...

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Nah, I'm just a bitter old mystery development skeptic. There is no rule here against throwing facts at fantasy (especially when that fantasy presents complete fiction as impending scenarios). This is an influential forum, and I've found that when people start thinking that dream developments like this are a reality, they quickly lose perspective. It's bad for everyone when the best case scenario is on cloud nine.

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This (former) city employee did. (The tax is on wages earned within the city; the source is irrelevant.)

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I would like to see the Press move their office operations to one of their lots to the north. Maybe a 5-10 story building along the river depending on how much space they need. Although isn't it true that a high-rise wouldnt work on the current site due to poor sand?

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