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Allan

New Hotel Planned for Downtown Grand Rapids

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Saturday, October 25, 2003

Amway co-founders plan to build new hotel in downtown Grand Rapids

By Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- A new hotel is the works for the city's revitalized downtown.

The families of Amway Corp. co-founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel announced Friday a deal to purchase an old furniture store -- Israels Designs for Living. The site is expected to be combined with neighboring property to accommodate a 200- to 400-room hotel along the Grand River.

The hotel would be built near the families' 285-room Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and serve conventioneers at downtown's nearly completed DeVos Place convention center.

"We think this is an A-plus location," Joseph Tomaselli, Amway Hotel Corp. president, told The Grand Rapids Press. "It's central to the Amway Grand and DeVos Place and it's central to the business district."

Terms of the purchase agreement were not disclosed.

Tomaselli said he was not sure whether the 117-year-old Israels building would be razed.

Owner Bob Israels said he expects to close the store by October 2004 and move it to another downtown building.

Amway also owns another downtown hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott.

A year ago, DeVos and Van Andel purchased a vacant retirement home across the street from the convention center for use as a possible hotel site. That project has been shelved in favor of the Israels site, Tomaselli said.

The latest hotel announcement came as an investment group led by local developer Jack Buchanan prepared to ask city commissioners next week to extend a purchase option on Grand Rapids City Hall.

The group wants to build a 400-room convention hotel at the City Hall site, which is on Calder Plaza. Its one-year option to buy the property expires Oct. 31.

DeVos Place's first convention will be held in early December.

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No, this is separate from developer Joe Moch's twin apartment towers on the north side of downtown. I haven't heard anything about this hotel in a while, but I do know that there has been activity at the site of the apartment towers.

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Sounds great! I'll be in Grand Rapids for about a day & a half in three weeks. Is there anything downtown or any neighborhoods I should try to see during my photo tour?

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Hmmm...I should be able to answer this, considering that nearly all of my family that immigrated to the US lives in GR. I need to think about this a bit before I answer.

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I printed a map of central Grand Rapids of the internet. It looks like Ah-Nab-Awen Park, the pedestrian bridges, Monroe Center, & Division Avenue could be interesting spots to explore. From the map, it looks like the Wealthy St. overpass, over US 131, may be a good place to get a skyline shot, looking from the south. What do you think?

Its looking like I'll have about 5 to 6 free hours to wonder around Grand Rapids, on July 9th, do you think its worth it, to take some of that time and drive down and explore Kalamazoo or Muskegon?

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I honestly don't know much about Grand Rapids, but I've heard of all the places/streets you mentioned. As far as Kalamazoo; it's an interesting little city and I don't think you'd be disappointed.

You're probably better off asking some of the many GR forumers at SSP though...

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I could easily spend 6 hours in GR alone, but that's just me. I was just there over the weekend, and things are progressing nicely. There are tons of new lofts...I noticed several new ones north of I-196. It is very nice - lots of historic architecture. There are only one or two abandoned buildings. It is muh different than the downtowns of other Michigan cities.

I have never been to Kalamazoo, but I doubt you'd be disappointed. It seems to have a pretty good downtown for a small city like that.

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Hey any one got a pic of the new hotel. And another thing how tall is this one gonna be?

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Hey any one got a pic of the new hotel. And another thing how tall is this one gonna be?

I've seen no renderings or heard of any height info. The details on this seem to be pretty sketchy at the moment.

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Any renderings yet? Grand Rapids is a cool mid-sized city, downtown was very impressive and well supported by its residents. Detroit should take a look to see what this city has accomplished. I have about 60 pics of GR, I need to scan through. I'm traveling to Tampa this weekend, but I'll post them once I get back, next week.

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I cant wait to see ur pics, GR is a very nice city (I like how it is more modern than most michigan cities) and i am always woundering how it's doing.

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Hotel renderings will be out around December. I think that they are right now finishing the selection process for the architects. The hotel will be nationally branded and flagged - so it will not be a sister to the Amway Grand. Size is a tough guess. They are looking at 300 - 400 rooms with a 500 lot parking ramp on about a one acre lot. Most guesses put it in the mid twenty stories but definitely not a tallest. I am guessing however that it will have some bulk to it.

The twin apartment towers have stalled over the Summer. However, the latest news I heard was that a leasing office was to open this month and construction was to start this Fall. The last major obstacle (a large transformer) was removed some time back, so it is just a matter of time. However, as a word of warning, Moch, the developer is flakey, and if he backs out, this would not be the first time. However, after the fight he initially put up, I doubt he will back out of this one.

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28 stories is a good height for GR, although it would be nice to see some 30+ story skyscrapers downtown. Have there been any renderings released yet?

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Probably before the end of the year. Actually construction (demolition) is supposed to start by then. The firm chosen was the same one which did the new Soldier Field in Chicago and quite a few other notable buildings around the world - mainly hotels.

From what I hear, this should be a very nice looking structure. I am just wondering how the 29, 28, and 32 storey buildings downtown are going to look clustered closely together on the same N/S plane. Seems like the heights will be too similar and it will look boring or odd. However, I am guessing that the architect is aware of this.

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