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Allan

Developer hopes to renovate city-owned ramp

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Developer hopes to renovate portion of city-owned ramp

Sunday, October 17, 2004

By Ben Cunningham

The Grand Rapids Press

Grand Rapids' Parking Commission may allow a downtown developer to renovate a portion of a city-owned parking ramp he leases for exclusive use by residents of his Cityview Condominiums project.

Developer Jonathan Rooks is asking the city for permission to modify parking stripes in his leased portion of the year-old Monroe Center Parking ramp, adding to the 19 spaces he is allowed to use.

The 25 condominiums Rooks built on the top seven floors of the 14-story People's Building have been sold, Rooks told parking commissioners last week. The historic building, on the south corner of Monroe Center and Ionia Avenue NW and next door to the garage, became part of a Renaissance Zone two years ago, meaning residents will pay no state or local property taxes until 2017.

Rooks told commissioners such parking lease arrangements "are common in downtown developments in such places as Chicago." He pledged that, should he ever stop leasing the spots, he would return the garage to its original condition.

The parking commission already has given Rooks permission for a valet service.

"We think this will add to the city's revenue," Rooks said. "I can orchestrate enough customers to fill the garage."

Parking commissioners tabled Rooks' request and told Parking Director Pam Ritsema to come back next month with a draft agreement they could consider.

"I want to make sure we are getting a proper return on our investment," said John Logie, a commission member. "I am not trying to kill the idea. I am trying to make it work out."

Ritsema said some details need to be worked out, including a maintenance area and office city workers would access.

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As of last week, they tabled this request. Downtown living is essential to the full revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids. I hope the city doesn't impede progress too much.

Joe

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I hope they get the issue resolved. Downtown parking for residential units is a big thing in cities without viable rail transit systems.

Do you have any idea of what the People's Building condos sold for?

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I believe $250,000 and up. I am actually going on a Holiday tour today that includes 4 condo's from the People's Building (now renamed the Select Bank building). I'll let you know what the price range is. I'm sure the view from the center of the city will be nice.

Joe

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The Cityview Condominums (in the Select Bank) start at $239K for about 1400 sq ft (I believe the ceilings are 10 ft). I went through 4 or 5 of them and they were fantastic. Definitely a great addition to downtown Grand Rapids living!

Joe

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$239k is a bit on the high side, but still affordable. I love condos and apartments in old office buildings...they always have large windows and really high ceilings. I recently went to the Kales Building in Detroit and the units there have 12' ceilings and huge windows. The only thing is that those old windows are really hard to get open.

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I went on that home tour as well. They are neat places with great views. I would like to see that veiw after dark.

Joe... did you go to the other condo building on Monroe next to the Brass Works Building?

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Tobias,

I did. They were great. A big difference from the Cityview Condo's. Mainly two story lofts with original wood floors and brick walls. The most interesting was actually the condomimium of the developer who owns both Monroe Terrace and the Select Bank building (where the Cityview condo's are located). He has a two story traditional loft, but built a third level on the roof completely out of glass. I read that the windows AND ceiling open up so that 80% of the upper level can be open air. I'm sure many wild parties are thrown up on this level (as it seems to be made for exactly that).

If you are looking for lofts, Monroe Terrace is definitely a great location (especially if they ever build the Moch Towers).

Joe

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