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joeDowntown

Will Bridgewater tower finally get twin?

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joeDowntown    664

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

By Chris Knape

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- This time, it's condos.

The long-delayed plan to build a second tower at Bridgewater Place was given a major overhaul with developer Robert Grooters' proposal for a largely residential project.

The $50 million concept calls for a 24- to 26-story tower featuring 235 residential condominiums connected to the existing Bridgewater office building.

The project, dubbed River House, represents a major shift in strategy for Grooters, who announced -- but never built -- the second tower on several occasions over the past decade.

And there are no sure things about the latest proposal.

The project hinges on securing state and local support for Brownfield tax credits, along with advance sales of 60 percent of the condominiums before construction can begin. Presales are expected to begin later this month.

Grooters also needs a deal with Bridgewater's owners. After developing the building, which opened in 1993, he sold his interest in the first tower but retained ownership of the unused foundation and land for the second tower.

J.P. Koop, whose family's companies have the majority stake in the original tower, said he was optimistic about the condominium plan.

"I think it can be worked out," Koop said from Vietnam, where he is doing charity work. "It's got to be a win-win for everybody. I can't see how a second tower would hurt the owners of the first tower."

Gary Granger, a minority stakeholder and managing partner in the corporation that owns the first tower, said he wanted to see feasibility studies and other numbers before giving his blessing.

"There is a lot that needs to be done," Granger said. "We're obviously willing to take a look at it and whether it's in the best interest of the existing tower."

Two years ago, Grooters hatched a plan for a mixed-use tower that was to include an upscale hotel, condos, retail and office space. That project fell through after Alticor Inc. announced plans for another downtown hotel.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell met with city staff about Grooters' project and said he was ready to go to bat for the Brownfield tax credits.

"I certainly signaled to the city staff that it's a project that I would like to see go forward," Heartwell said.

The existing office tower was designed with a twin in mind, but the project's cost combined with a lack of demand for the space meant offices were not feasible for the site.

Grooters said the proposed condos would be among downtown's most-affordable units. Prices are expected to range from $160,000 to $400,000. Higher-end penthouse units also would be available.

The building's design would complement the existing tower but would not be the identical twin once envisioned, Grooters said.

Plans call for a resident-friendly narrower building with recessed balconies. Some retail space is planned for the lower floors.

The new tower is expected to be near the same height as the current Bridgewater building. Many of the units would face the Grand River, with southern-facing units featuring sweeping views of downtown.

The project comes as more than 1,000 condos and apartments are in various stages of development downtown.

Among the projects on the drawing board are the redevelopment of the downtown YMCA into upscale condos and the Park Place condo tower next to the former Junior Achievement building at Division Avenue and Fulton Street.

East Grand Rapids attorney Joseph Moch said he still planned two large apartment towers at the site of the former Grand Rapids Foundry, although no timeline for construction was set.

Second Story Properties expects to begin presales of its condos in the Y building, 33 Library St. NE, within weeks, said Sam Cummings, president of the Grand Rapids development company.

"The speculator in me has me taking a bit of a pause and perhaps wanting to be a little concerned about the viability of all of those," Cummings said. "But you know what? I think we can handle it."

While downtown housing units have increased for more than a decade, developers have been reinvigorated by one anothers' successes.

A city-sponsored downtown housing study released last year added fuel to the boom, suggesting a capacity to absorb 350 new downtown units each year over the next five years.

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JimInGR    6

I hope this happens. I'm excited to see it might be as tall as 26 stories, the previous one planned was only 21 I believe. I hope Joe Moch finally goes through with his plans too. With all the projects going on it would be so cool to see 7 or 8 cranes downtown. :)

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tobias    0

I am also glad to hear that the new tower will compliment rather than duplicate the existing tower. I think that should add some visual interest to the structure as you approach it from the two expressways. Each view will be unique.

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joeDowntown    664

I agree. I found that interesting because it has been billed as a mirror image since the early 90's. It'll be interesting to see what the design looks like. The balconies will be a big plus; it probably would have the best views of the city looking across the grand.

Joe

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metrogrkid    20

WHOO HOO!! :thumbsup:

Can you say, "ANY EXCUSE TO HAVE A FIREWORKS PARTY AT MY CRIB"?

Just change GR's name to Coruscant now and get on with the real skyscraper building.

WOO HOO!! :D

I agree. I found that interesting because it has been billed as a mirror image since the early 90's. It'll be interesting to see what the design looks like. The balconies will be a big plus; it probably would have the best views of the city looking across the grand.

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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dnast    0

Just change GR's name to Coruscant now and get on with the real skyscraper building.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

LOL! Don't we wish... :P

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