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Allan

BK torn down for hospital

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BK torn down for hospital

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

By Jim Harger

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- After 30 years of flame-broiling, perhaps the Burger King restaurant on Michigan Hill had it coming.

Wielding pickaxes, prybars and sledge hammers, eight firefighter recruits ripped into the building's walls and ceilings Monday morning as part of their 17-week training program.

The restaurant, across the street from Spectrum Health Butterworth, closed for good over the weekend to make room for the hospital's new outpatient cancer treatment center.

Grand Rapids Fire Capt. Ron Tennant watched the yellow-helmeted recruits chop through a wall leading from the dining room into the kitchen area. Elsewhere, the recruits were prying open steel doors and chopping holes in the roof.

"If they do it now, there's no pressure," said Tennant, the department's acting training supervisor. "When there's a fire, they'll have done it before and know they can do it."

Besides, he added, "It beats talking about it or showing slides. Anytime we can get our hands on it, it's more valuable experience."

As recruit Kevin Leverett chopped away at the dining room wall, he learned a lesson about firefighting. Instead of finding more plasterboard and tile after breaking through the stud walls, he found a metal wall from the cooler in the next room.

Lt. Lee Finlayson, one of the training officers, seized on the occasion as a teachable moment. During a fire in a commercial building, a metal-lined cooler may become a safe haven for someone trapped in the building, he said.

"We have no choice but to chop through it," Finlayson said as the recruits hacked away at the thick metal sheathing.

Though the recruit class has trained in residential buildings, Monday marked its first training exercise in a commercial building, where walls are thicker and the materials are sturdier, Tennant said.

Despite its flame-broiled legacy, Tennant said Monday's exercise would not involve setting and extinguishing any fires.

Spectrum spokesman Bruce Rossman said the real demolition on the Burger King restaurant will begin today. Officials hope to have the site cleared by early February.

Groundbreaking for the new Lemmen-Holton Cancer Treatment Center will not begin until late summer or fall, Rossman said. Meanwhile, officials hope to use the site for temporary staff parking, he said.

The Burger King restaurant became hospital property in May 2002 when the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation purchased it for $6.25 million. The restaurant has operated on a month-to-month lease since, Rossman said.

Named for two long-time Meijer Inc. executives, the outpatient cancer facility is still in the planning stages, Rossman said.

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I drove past the former Burger King site today. It was nice to see it gone. From what I have heard, the cancer center that is replacing it will be another large building and it is slated to begin construction this year. It is crazy to drive down Michigan Street these days. It is definitely "growing up".

It looks like they have finished ripping down the 40 or so houses they bought to redevelop part of Michigan Street (Midtowne Village). I saw the plans yesterday and it looks great. A mixed use development with retail residential and office space (medical). It will have a pocket park in the center and they did a really nice job with the scale of the buildings. The plans make it look like a town center from the early 20's. The early renderings were very sterile and boring glass cubes. The neighborhood association did a pretty good job convincing the developer to make it fit with the neighborhood. The changes were drastic and I think it will fit nicely with the surrounding older homes.

Joe

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Joe...

Do you have any pictures of what the new MidTowne might look like?

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Tobias,

Actually I do. :) Here you go (although I have seen renderings with better detail, these will give you an idea).

Each building:

mt-EastEleva.gif

mt-northelevc.gif

mt-southelevb.gif

mt-southelevd.gif

mt-westelevf.gif

Overhead view of development:

mt-mtvdrawing.jpg

Joe

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Soooooo much better than what was there. That neighborhood was terrible. What amazes me was that people were trying so hard to hold out - you would have thought that they would have been more than happy to have taken the money and gotten out of there. Most of those homes had no resale value at all.

About the Cancer Center. I do not think that it will be all that large. I am expecting a smallish six storey or so building. What will make it work though is the planned redevelopment of the Towers Building and ramp, it could add an entire new dimension to this project.

However, the one hill guarantee that I am waiting to see is the planned (and apparently ready to go) Childrens Hospital. Expected to be at least twelve storeys, it will dominate the hill and add a lot to the mini skyline developing up there.

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Supernova,

I agree. The houses were landlocked between I96 and Michigan Street, the area was 95% owned by absentee landlords and the houses were falling apart. I am a preservationist at heart but I didn't bat an eye when they announced they wanted to knock down that "neighborhood". I hear that the owners made out pretty hansomely too.

As far as the cancer center, I think you are right. It sounds like it will be about as tall as the ramp to the east. However, The new Children's Hospital tower should add a nice touch to the skyline as it sits high on the hill. I think it will also make the hospital more pedestrian friendly. It will replace a two story parking ramp that builds a wall between the hospital and the Van Andel Institute.

I am very excited to see how the medical towers redevelopment will turn out. I hope they use a world-class architect like they did on VAI and the new hotel... We need more of that!

Joe

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I am very excited to see how the medical towers redevelopment will turn out. I hope they use a world-class architect like they did on VAI and the new hotel... We need more of that!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Are they going to tear it down then? :P I like the Towers Bldg. Got all my vaccines there from Dr Ledrick... before he started diluting vaccines. All I have to ask is:

So when is the McDonald's, and Bagel Beanery going to be torn down? :D Make toom for the medical offices! *toot toot* before anyone gets in a visible mess, they can live inside any new building thats built there.

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Snoogit,

The Towers building will be ripped down. It will be replaced by 4 office buildings. The State parking ramp will also become part of this project. The new childrens hospital tower will be built on the old parking ramp at the front of Butterworth (right across Fulton from the Towers building, and across from the VAI). It should change that part of the hill dramatically when the two projects are complete (plus the cancer center on the old BK site).

Joe

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Snoogit,

The Towers building will be ripped down. It will be replaced by 4 office buildings. The State parking ramp will also become part of this project. The new childrens hospital tower will be built on the old parking ramp at the front of Butterworth (right across Fulton from the Towers building, and across from the VAI). It should change that part of the hill dramatically when the two projects are complete (plus the cancer center on the old BK site).

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Aye she was a good building, but no one took care of her like she should.

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