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Medical complex plans grow

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Medical complex plans grow

Thursday, January 06, 2005

By Jim Harger

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- A giant medical office complex and parking ramp planned for the Michigan Street Hill is getting bigger.

Developers and city officials now say the project probably will include four medical research towers instead of the three originally planned for the north side of Michigan Street NE near Bostwick Avenue.

The project's cost, originally pegged at $97 million, now is listed at $120 million.

Up to 2,300 jobs will be created by the complex, said Susan Shannon, the city's Economic Development director.

Joe Hooker, project manager for Christman Capital Development of Lansing, said he hopes construction can begin this spring. Christman is developing the project with RDV Corp., a real estate investment firm owned by the family of Alticor Corp. founder Richard DeVos.

"We're settling on a design that is depicting four buildings, but we haven't finalized it yet," Hooker said. "We're leaning toward four."

The latest building to be added will support a cancer center Spectrum plans to build at the site of a Burger King restaurant, Shannon said.

Other buildings in the project will include:

An office building to replace the Medical Towers Building, which will be razed to make way for the new project.

An office building to serve doctors based at a new DeVos Children's Hospital planned for the southeast corner of Bostwick and Michigan.

A medical research tower that will offer space for research and technology firms that want to take advantage of tax breaks offered by the city's SmartZone District.

Hooker said tenants for the office and medical research towers are still tentative.

Beneath the four buildings will be a 2,000-car parking ramp whose ownership and operation will be shared by the city, Christman, Spectrum Health and the Van Andel Research Institute.

The ramp will extend west to Division Avenue on a surface parking lot currently owned by the state.

To make the project happen, Shannon said the city and state need to designate the site as a "brownfield redevelopment" project.

That designation will allow Christman to recoup up to

$4 million in state tax credits to defray its cost of cleaning up and redeveloping the building site.

The Grand Rapids City Commission has scheduled a Feb. 1 public hearing on the request for a brownfield designation. The hearing will be at 2 p.m. in the ninth floor Commission Chambers of Grand Rapids City Hall.

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This, along with the new cancer center (8-10 stories) the new DeVos Childrens Hospital tower (12+ stories) and the final phase of the Rafael Vinoly designed Van Andel Institute should make this a powerhouse corner for Medical Research and care.

Add MSU's Medical school and Grand Rapids will have one of the most impressive research corridors in the U.S.


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