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News on GR's new Hotel

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Soldier Field architect to design Alticor's new hotel

Friday, September 10, 2004

By Chris Knape

The Grand Rapids Press

The next big change to Grand Rapids' skyline will be designed by an internationally known Chicago architect.

Alticor Inc. has hired Lohan Caprile Goettsch of Chicago to design a 300- to 400-room hotel for the southwest corner of Pearl Street and Campau Avenue NW where Israels Designs for Living now stands.

BETA Design of Grand Rapids will provide local assistance for the project, which is expected to cost $60 million to $70 million.

Israels has been liquidating its downtown store in preparation for a move to the former John Widdicomb Furniture factory on the city's Northwest Side.

No decision has been made about whether the former Israels building will be incorporated into the new building. Officials from both firms referred questions about the project to Alticor.

When the new venue opens, Alticor will control the only hotels connected to the $216 million DeVos Place convention center, including the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott.

Some convention planners have said Grand Rapids needs more hotel rooms in order to attract large, national conventions.

The only other hotel within walking distance to DeVos Place is the Days Inn off Pearl Street NW on the west side of the Grand River. It is owned by Bob Sullivan.

Lohan has extensive experience designing upscale hotel towers around the world.

Examples of Lohan's work tend to emphasize modern designs with large amounts of glass and metallic trim.

BETA's work includes the Spectrum Health South Health Pavilion and Steelcase's pyramid-shaped corporate development center.

Lohan designed the new Soldier Field in Chicago. Its marquee hotel projects include the Four Seasons in Mumbai, India; the Grand Hyatt in Sao Paulo, Brazil; and the 65-story Cityfront Center Plaza in Chicago.

Based on Alticor's plans, the hotel is expected to be slightly shorter than the existing 30-story tower at Alticor's Amway Grand Plaza Hotel across the street from the new hotel site.

Alticor officials are reviewing four upscale hotel brands -- Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Westin -- as potential "flags" for the new hotel, said Joseph Tomaselli, president of the Amway Hotel Corp.

A decision on branding and the selection of a general contractor should be made this fall, he said.

The hotel is expected to open in July 2007.

Hotel officials already are working with convention planners to market the rooms for events in January of 2008.

Plans for the hotel were announced almost a year ago by the families of Alticor co-founders Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

DeVos has said he considers the project his and Van Andel's "last big hurrah" after more than three decades of involvement in downtown development projects. Future projects are expected to be taken up by their children.

"Jay and I are so proud of Grand Rapids and so grateful for everything the community has given to us," DeVos said in a press release. "We want this hotel to be something that the people of Grand Rapids can be proud of, too."

Lohan principals James Goettsch and Michael Kauffman will lead the hotel project with John Arzarian Jr. serving as senior designer.

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DeVos has said he considers the project his and Van Andel's "last big hurrah" after more than three decades of involvement in downtown development projects. Future projects are expected to be taken up by their children.

Maybe Dan DeVos can bring back the old 500' planned office tower.

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Yeah, that would be nice. What was the name of that tower again? I have a rendering at home but can't think of the name.

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It was the Ottawa and Lyon Tower project, never had a name because he never found a large tenant willing to pay for the name. I still have a feeling that this one is still up in the air. I saw an interview with him a year or so ago and when asked about it, he basically said that it is not dead, just dormant.

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Wow. I thought Lyon at Ottawa was a completely dead project. It's good to know that it still has a chance of happening. I need to remember to bring back that rendering from home when I go back next week or the week after.

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I think Dan DeVos took the failure of that project personally. Actually it wasn't his fault it was the economies fault. But with current CBD vacancy rates dropping below 8% again this one could be dusted off. He always seemed like it was a sure thing, I would expect a similar project (if not the same one) to pop up again.

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First of all, I am very happy to have found this forum. I have always been looking for a forum to discuss downtown development with others.

About the Alticor Hotel, aren't plans supposed to be unveiled any day now (I thought I read somewhere around the 10th of December). A friend of mine lives in the Plaza Towers and their newsletter described the new buildings look as a "football on a 20 degree angle". Either way, I am hoping for something world class. The architectural firm definitely seems capable of doing a world class building.

I would also love to see the Lyon / Ottawa project get resurrected. It was a really cool building. Vacancy downtown is low, I heard that what killed it initally was that Varnum was considered to be the major tenant until Bridgewater sweetened their deal (hence, the Varnum sign).

Joe

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The plans for the hotel are supposed to be released in early December. I am eagerly awaiting them.

The Lyon/Ottawa project was an awesome project. I wouldn't be surprised to see it resurected sometime in the next year or two. Downtown development really seems to be picking up momentum.

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I guess now we will be waiting until February for the renderings. Oh well, the project is a welcome addition to downtown.

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I think they postponed it because Jay VanAndel died earlier last week. It was supposed to be unveiled right around the time of his death. I caught a glimpse of a rendering on the news yesterday evening, and while it might not be final, it looked very cool. Really curvey. I'm sure whatever it is, they will build something that becomes a signature in the skyline.

Joe

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Israels building will fall for hotel

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

By Chris Knape

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- The former Israels Designs for Living building in downtown Grand Rapids will be torn down to make way for a towering Marriott hotel, its owners say.

Alticor Inc.'s first acknowledgment of demolition plans came during an informal presentation about the hotel to Grand Rapids city commissioners Tuesday. Alticor asked its architects to consider keeping the Israels building in the plan, but integrating the 118-year-old structure proved too challenging, said Bert Crandell, who is managing the hotel project for Alticor.

"We kept a pretty open mind and we charged our architects with that, because it is an old building," Crandell said.

Local building preservation advocate Rebecca Smith-Hoffman said she was disappointed, but not surprised.

"I think it's a usable building, but I hate to get into what's more important than something else," said Smith-Hoffman, co-owner of Past Perfect, a historic preservation consulting firm. "It's certainly in excellent condition because Israels has been there."

Had the Israels building fit functionally or architecturally with the new hotel, it may have been saved, Crandell said. He pointed to the restoration of the old Pantlind Hotel and Exhibitors Building as part of the neighboring Amway Grand Plaza Hotel as examples of Alticor's desire for preservation when it makes sense.

A plan for the $60 million to $70 million Marriott hotel shows trees and wide sidewalks flanking the site, along with part of the hotel on the portion of the property occupied by Israels.

The 24-story hotel tower would front on the Grand River, with drive-up entrances along Campau Avenue and Louis Street.

By comparison, the Amway Grand tower across the street rises 30 stories, while the Plaza Towers building to the south is 34 stories tall.

Israels announced plans to sell the building to Alticor in 2003. The furniture retailer and design firm moved out this fall after 28 years.

During its history, the building was home to a shoe factory, furniture showroom, automotive design center and carpet store.

Demolishing the building will require Alticor to go before the city's Historic Preservation Commission. The Preservation Commission then can make a non-binding recommendation about the plan to the city Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission will need to approve the hotel's site plan, but its decision can be appealed to the City Commission.

Crandell said the idea behind the development is to soften the southwest corner of Pearl Street and Campau Avenue to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

More detailed architectural plans are expected to be unveiled in February.

Preparations for the hotel have accelerated in recent months.

Last week, the city's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved spending more than $5 million on public improvements in the Campau area in conjunction with the hotel development.

Snow-melt systems, raised planters, rebuilt streets and improvements to the Louis Campau Promenade walkway are among the improvements planned.

Some of them were planned by the DDA before the hotel project emerged, but the extent of the improvements now has been expanded.

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It's too bad that the old building will not be saved. I do not mind too much though, since this project will add density and height to the core of the city.

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I agree. I am usually for preservation as every new project (whether it was during the urban renewal of the sixties, etc.) was for the "better good of the city". I think this time though, the $70 million dollar investment will more than make up for it.

I just hope someone salvages the ornate parts of the building.

Joe

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I'm indifferent about the helistop. I like the idea of not building a skywalk though. Skywalks take away pedestrian activity from the streets. And it's not like people are going to say "let's go to a different hotel because the Marriott doesn't have a skywalk."

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:blink: IDIOTIC 19TH CENTURY GRAND RAPIDS PLANNING COMMISSION STRIKES AGAIN !! :angry:

GRAND RAPIDS - OH MY GOD!!!!!! The only informed member of the Grand Rapids Planning Commission is Ms. Marilyn Tische - a longtime resident of the downtown Carl Forslund Condos (next to the upcoming Marriott Tower) and one of the original modern urban pioneers in downtown GR urban living. With that said I am now going to blast the rest of the GRPC!!!!

Sans Ms. Tische, the rest of this STUPID body (the group that said that the Moch International/Trowbridge Street 24-story twin-tower apartment project was TOO DENSE for North Downtown :rofl: - UMMM, DENSITY IS THE GOAL OF A MAJOR DOWNTOWN AREA STUPIDS) can look forward to the far more visionary CITY Commission seeing the ongoing continuity importance of also having the Marriott tower connected to the ever-growing Minneapoliseque GR skywalk system. Any notion of GR's skywalks being a detriment are LUDICROUS. The GR system links the 12,000-seat VanAndel Arena, Plaza Towers/Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, the National City Center and Campau Square Class-A office buildings, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the new 1-million square foot DeVos Place Congress Center. Try walking between all that in the horizontal snow squalls of GR winter outside of the skywalk system. Those walkways make downtown GR's hub a usable and viable convention destination year round. If anyone was thinking at all, they would redevelop the area of the Grand Plaza Parking Ramp and skywalk promenade behind the National City Center into a 10-story vertical shopping and entertainment atrium for the skywalk pedestrians of the new Marriott, Amway Grand and points south (Marriott Courtyard and VanAndel Arena) to pass through and drop cash within (SAID: CAPTIVE AUDIENCE).

GRPC needs to stop being the suburban, non-urban living but making decisions for the city with their suburban mentality idiots that they are and let downtown become the world-class hub that it was meant to be! ARRRRGH!!! Now I feel much better. :P

Planners Nix Part Of Hotel Plan

By David Czurak

GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners will be the next group to check in, and check out, the new hotel being proposed for the corner of Pearl Street and Campau Avenue by Alticor Inc.

Planning commissioners approved much of the hotel’s site plan yesterday, including the demolition of the Israels Building at 226 Pearl St. NW.  But they nixed two elements of the design: the helistop and the overhead walkways.

The proposed walkways would have connected the new hotel with the existing skywalk system. The design would have linked the hotel with the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and then connected the hotel with its parking deck, which is to go up south of the 340-room hotel on Campau Avenue. The walkway then would cross Campau Avenue and join the existing skywalk, adjacent to the city’s Louis Campau parking ramp.

“It seems to me to be entirely consistent with the existing walkway,” said Bill Hoyt, city planning director, prior to the commission’s vote.

“It seems to be a logical connection between the two hotels,” he added.

But planners felt the walkway would direct people away from other businesses located downtown.

As for the helistop, the hotel’s project manager Bert Crandell said it was a “land and go” pad that wouldn’t be used for commercial purposes. Crandell told planners that it would mainly be used to shuttle dignitaries to the city, and would likely have a maximum of two stops a day with none occurring overnight.

Crandell added that the pad meets the city’s noise regulations and was allowed under the current downtown zoning ordinance. But planning commissioners felt differently.

The helistop would be built on the roof of the four-story ballroom, part of the 24-story hotel’s design.

Michael Kaufman, a principal with Lohan Caprile Goettsch, the Chicago architectural firm designing the hotel with BETA Design Group, told planning commissioners that a 2,500-square foot urban park would replace the Israels Building at the corner of Pearl and Campau. He said the first floor of the hotel would be lit at night and would provide an “inviting” background to the park.

City commissioners will make the final decision on the hotel’s design. They can overrule the Planning Commission’s decision and allow the overhead walkways and helistop to be built.

Alticor has estimated the cost of the new hotel, to be operated by Marriott Inc., at from $60 million to $70 million. The firm said it would spend up to another $10 million to build the 700-space parking deck. About $11 million of public funds will go to the project.

“We’re not going to do anything that’s not done right,” said Crandell.    BJX

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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:blink: IDIOTIC 19TH CENTURY GRAND RAPIDS PLANNING COMMISSION STRIKES AGAIN !!  :angry:

GRAND RAPIDS - OH MY GOD!!!!!!  The only informed member of the Grand Rapids Planning Commission is Ms. Marilyn Tische - a longtime resident of the downtown Carl Forslund Condos (next to the upcoming Marriott Tower) and one of the original modern urban pioneers in downtown GR urban living.  With that said I am now going to blast the rest of the GRPC!!!!

Sans Ms. Tische, the rest of this STUPID body (the group that said that the Moch International/Trowbridge Street 24-story twin-tower apartment project was TOO DENSE for North Downtown  :rofl: - UMMM, DENSITY IS THE GOAL OF A MAJOR DOWNTOWN AREA STUPIDS) can look forward to the far more visionary CITY Commission seeing the ongoing continuity importance of also having the Marriott tower connected to the ever-growing Minneapoliseque GR skywalk system.  Any notion of GR's skywalks being a detriment are LUDICROUS.  The GR system links the 12,000-seat VanAndel Arena, Plaza Towers/Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, the National City Center and Campau Square Class-A office buildings, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the new 1-million square foot DeVos Place Congress Center.  Try walking between all that in the horizontal snow squalls of GR winter outside of the skywalk system.  Those walkways make downtown GR's hub a usable and viable convention destination year round.  If anyone was thinking at all, they would redevelop the area of the Grand Plaza Parking Ramp and skywalk promenade behind the National City Center into a 10-story vertical shopping and entertainment atrium for the skywalk pedestrians of the new Marriott, Amway Grand and points south (Marriott Courtyard and VanAndel Arena) to pass through and drop cash within (SAID: CAPTIVE AUDIENCE).

GRPC needs to stop being the suburban, non-urban living but making decisions for the city with their suburban mentality idiots that they are and let downtown become the world-class hub that it was meant to be!  ARRRRGH!!!  Now I feel much better.  :P

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Now this is the GR that I remember! I think that EGR made a good choice with the Gas Light villiage project. These people on the planning commission should all take a Nortwest Air flight to Minneapolis to view the benefits of the skyway system to buisnesses.

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I'm sure the skywalk will pass. The city commission often ignores the planning commissions recommendations (which is good, the planning commission seems to do some pretty dumb things that would stifle development).

If I were a betting man, I would bank on there being a skywalk from the new Marriott... ;)

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Welcome Metrogrkid, I agree with you totally. I almost flipped when they balked at the height of the Moch Towers. Too much density? These are the same people that will complain about Urban sprawl. How do you diminish Urban sprawl? Have a denser core city. Sometimes I don't know why these boneheads get appointed to these positions.

When the whole Moch Towers fiasco went down I wrote every city commissioner and a letter to the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Not that I'm taking credit for the city commission overturning the planning commissions recommendation ;)

Joe

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