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Junior Achievement building saved from demolition

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Junior Achievement building saved from wrecking ball

Saturday, October 30, 2004

By Chris Knape

The Grand Rapids Press

Developers planning a high-rise condominium and retail development in downtown Grand Rapids have scrapped plans to demolish the former Junior Achievement building.

The architect designing the new $32 million Park Place building said the long-empty Art Deco-style building at Division Avenue and Fulton Street will be restored and incorporated into the development.

The revised plan places the Park Place tower on what is now a parking lot fronting Fulton.

Doing so will allow the preservation of a building inside the Heartside Historic District and eliminate the need to win approval for its demolition from the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission.

The commission still will review any alterations to the building's exterior.

The Park Place project is being led by Vernon Ohlman, chairman of the architectural firm Design Plus, developer and property owner Bob Tol and Ray Kisor, a commercial real-estate agent with Commerce Realty.

The new plan cuts the number of condominium units from 150 to 138 and raises the proposed height of the new building to 14 stories.

Ohlman said the new building still is expected to reflect a traditional European-style design.

The roof of the Junior Achievement building could be turned into a garden for tenants of the neighboring Park Place building, he said.

"This project has a greater chance of going forward than it did before," Ohlman said.

The developers still are trying to secure financing for the project.

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