| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Development News

1777 Articles | Page: | Show All

The Rapid awarded LEED Gold for environmental advances at new $31M operations center

Grand Rapids' transit system, The Rapid, has once again received national recognition for its environmental conscience in new building construction. This week, The Rapid received the U.S. Green Building Council's second-highest certification, LEED Gold, for the renovation and expansion of its operations center (333 Wealthy St. SW).

The LEED award is the organization's second LEED achievement. Rapid Central Station qualified for LEED certification in 2006, the first transit station in the nation to receive the designation.

The expansion doubled the size of the former operations center, bringing it to some 280,000 square feet, which houses the dispatch center, a training center, and storage and maintenance for over 150 buses.

Notable environmental features of the building include a bus wash water reclamation system that saves nearly nine million gallons of water per year; a 40,000-square-foot green roof; increased day light, natural light, and natural ventilation; radiant floor heating in the garage; and high-speed garage doors.

"Grand Rapids has all these sustainability initiatives and has been designated as a sustainable city by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and that adds more status to the city," says The Rapid CEO Peter Varga. "I think it raises the national profile of us as a city. For The Rapid, our conservation of water and electricity, the resistance of our green roof to degradation because it will last three times as long as a standard roof -- for us, there's a balance that's worthwhile because the upfront costs always get repaid over time."

Besides the LEED achievement, the financial numbers are also impressive. The project, which received $10.7 million in federal stimulus money and $17 million in federal transportation funding, was projected to cost $32.4 million, yet came in $1 million under budget.

Source: Peter Varga, The Rapids
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
$32 Million Transit Operations Center Set To Roll

East Hills church building to become 37 apartments, some with original architectural details

By the end of the year, Midland developer Brookstone Capital hopes to have transformed the former Bethel Pentecostal Church building (834 Lake Dr. SE) into 37 affordable apartments in the East Hills Neighborhood.

The church, built in 1923 and expanded to 41,000 square feet in 1967, will soon have another 12,000 square feet of contemporary living space added atop the 1967 addition. Some of the original architectural elements in the sanctuary area will become architectural features in several apartments.

"The vaulted ceilings will stay, and the big sanctuary windows will stay," says Aaron Jonker, senior project lead with Wolverine Building Group. "The church (Bethel Pentecostal) took the stained glass windows with them to their new location, but the large windows that replaced them will be part of several apartments. Right now, the sanctuary is a three-story space and we'll divide that into two floors."

The layout includes 21-one-bedroom and 16-two-bedroom units. One of each style will be fully handicap accessible, including accessible kitchens and cabinets.

Jonker says the exterior will have the same visual appeal it has now, after undergoing some repair of the decorative columns.

Construction will be completed to Enterprise Green Communities certification standards with a focus on energy efficient windows, insulation, and a high efficiency HVAC system.

"The building is in great shape yet, and it's great to be able to continue that legacy and preserve it for some time going forward," Jonker says. "This (increased density) will also support the businesses in the area."

Construction begins in February. Projected completion is December 2013.

Construction manager: Wolverine Building Group
Architect: Progressive AE
Green certification consultant: Catalyst Partners

Source: Aaron Jonker, Wolverine Building Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

New furnished apartments in Grand Rapids' McKay Tower offer luxury living downtown

Three new luxury apartments in one of Grand Rapids' iconic buildings will offer short- and long-term leases in the heart of the city's action.

A renovation a few years ago created rooms with a view on the 15th floor of the 17-story McKay Tower. Building owner Steadfast Properties, LLC has completed the buildout of one one-bedroom, one-bath apartment which is on the market for $2,000 per month. The 850-square-foot unit has granite countertops, a laundry area with a full-sized washer and dryer, and lots of closet space -- amenities that each apartment will have, says Operations Director Chaundra Derks.

Two additional units, each with two bedrooms and two baths, include living room fireplaces and will be finished in time for downtown summer festivities. Each carries a monthly price tag between $4,000 and $5,000.

All of the apartments feature interiors by local designer Kathryn Chaplow and come fully furnished, including pots and pans, tableware, linens, and towels. Residents have the use of the 16th floor lounge which has a wet bar and fireplace, plus the 17th floor rooftop deck which has a grill and patio furniture.

The views, depending on the apartment, take in the Grand River, Monroe North, Monroe Center Avenue, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, or Rosa Parks Circle.  

"We want these to be turnkey apartments where all you have to do is bring yourself and your clothes and have everything you need," Derks says. "If there are people who are working in the area for a month or so, or are visiting family, they can move in and we'll take care of the rest.

All apartments offer month-to-month leases as well as year-to-year options. If travelers need only a week or two, Derks says they will try to accommodate them.

For more information, contact Tony Pearson, True North Real Estate, (616) 780-0035 or tony@trunorth-re.com.

Source: Chaundra Derks, Steadfast Properties, LLC; Craig Clark, Clark Communications
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
Proposed Ballroom at McKay Tower could bring majestic celebration space to downtown Grand Rapids

Agent X says its new collaborative workspace at 38 Commerce is "a lot more fun"

Coming to work and plugging into a different workspace everyday has become the norm for employees at Agent X, a Grand Rapids branding and visual experience firm. The company relocated its 10 employees to 1,700 square feet in "38," a contemporary building at 38 Commerce Ave. SW in Heartside.

"You can have a lot more fun when people can work in open environments," says owner Brian Steketee, adding that even he doesn't have a permanent office. "Our team loves it. We have some quiet areas where we can go and focus, but a lot of our work is collaborative and involves a lot of different people. The new setup helps the project flow."

Steketee says the new space is set up with "hotel" workspaces, where a project manager and the rest of the team can plug laptops and phones into technology-laden desks that can accommodate two to five people -- each station has monitors and keyboards at the ready.

The office is on the main level, with storefront windows that stretch along Commerce Avenue. Besides the open workspaces and TV monitors throughout, there is a kitchen area, a conference room, and two small meeting rooms with white boards where technologists and user experience specialists can connect with clients remotely or with the company's satellite office in St. Louis, MO.

"I love the fact that we're headquartered in Grand Rapids," Steketee says. "I think the cost of living in Grand Rapids and access is great. We can still provide groundbreaking solutions to our clients and we can do it at a competitive rate. And there's more and more great talent making its way here."

Source: Brian Steketee, Agent X
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Historic Kingsley Building makes a comfortable new home for Connie's Cakes

When Mary Scheidel wanted to move her business, Connie's Cakes, to a more neighborly and pedestrian/bike-friendly location, she had no idea what was in store by moving into Eastown. "I've already had a slew of neighboring businesses stop by and introduce themselves, and the foot traffic is far greater than we had in Cutlerville," she says. "It has been really exciting."

After more than a year of searching for the perfect location, Scheidel opened Connie's Cakes on Friday, Jan. 11 on the Robinson Road side of the Kingsley Building (at Robinson and Lake Drive). Scheidel bought the business in April 2010 from her Aunt Connie Hennip, who had operated for more than 15 years on the 7000 block of South Division in Cutlerville. While the business had done very well at that location, serving clients all over West Michigan, Scheidel felt a longing to move into more of a neighborhood business district.

She began her search in late 2011, focusing on the rapidly growing East Hills area. A family friend who owns Making Thyme Kitchen on Cherry St. recommended that she work with Guy Bazzani and his most recent renovation project at the historic Kingsley Building, which has recently received designation as a National Historic Site.

Scheidel took one look at the space and knew her vision for creating a nostalgic pastry shop would work perfectly in the 2000-square-foot space. Scheidel wanted her shop to reflect the time period in which the building was built, so that customers would imagine that it had existed there since the beginning.

Connie's Cakes specializes in cakes from a butter cream recipe created by Scheidel's Aunt Connie. They'll custom design cakes for all occasions, both for personal and business events -- they even created the giant cake for the most recent Juice Ball -- and now include fondant cakes. They also bake giant and miniature cupcakes, cookies, brownies, dessert bars, and muffins on site throughout the day.

Although not technically a cafe where you can sit down and eat, their new space has a bakery case stocked daily with fresh treats for walk-in and bike-in customers. She did mention that she won't kick you out if you want to stay and eat. Scheidel employs two "top notch" designers in house and all of the pastry creations are built from scratch on site.

Future plans include possible outdoor seating in the small alley next door to their space, and Scheidel is already looking forward to riding her bike to the Fulton Street Farmer's Market when local fruits are in season for added ingredients. Gluten-free menu items are also in the works.

Hours of operation for Connie's Cakes are Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. They will also do wedding consultations during the evenings by appointment. Their Facebook page can be found here. Their official address is 1416 Robinson Road, less than a block from The Rapid's Route 6 bus line.

Source: Mary Scheidel, Connie's Cakes
Writer: Jeff Hill, Publisher

Photos by Jeff Hill





Grand Rapids Junior Achievement Building lands anchor tenant, long-awaited restoration to begin

It's been vacant and decaying for 15 years, and after multiple attempts by various developers to renovate the iconic Junior Achievement Building at one of Grand Rapids' most prominent intersections, Locus Development announced today that architectural firm TowerPinkster will be the anchor tenant, moving all 25 of its employees to the city center.

The building, with a new address of 4 E. Fulton, is just blocks from three multi-million dollar preservation and construction projects TowerPinkster was involved with: the LEED Gold-certified Kendall College of Art & Design’s Historic Federal Building, the Kent County Courthouse, and the renovation of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

After TowerPinkster landed the contract for the design and engineering of 4 E. Fulton, the company decided it was the perfect place to relocate from its temporary offices in Byron Center, says TowerPinkster CEO Arnie Mikon.

"I think if you go to almost any city around the world, most of the leaders are downtown and we wanted to be where the leaders are," Mikon says. "In addition to that are all of the things you've heard the governor talking about with developing communities and keeping talent downtown. We feel we'll be better able to attract the talent we want, and we're in a creative profession so we want to be closer to the arts community."

TowerPinkster will occupy the entire second floor, some 7,500 square feet, of the building. Mikon did not disclose the company's financial investment in renovating the space to LEED Gold for Commercial Interiors, but Locus Development's John Green, owner and developer of the building, says his company's investment is $3 million.

"About 40,000 cars a day that pass through that intersection," Green says. "Yet [people] can't see the vision. We hope to draw multiple retailers -- the building is designed to have a number of storefronts. We also have a lower level with tall ceilings and could provide an opportunity to become an entertainment venue."

The exterior of the building will remain much the same due to historic preservation rules. The interior design will honor the building's Art Deco style, yet have a contemporary appeal. Demolition has begun and TowerPinkster hopes to move in by late 2013.

Architect and engineer: TowerPinkster
Construction: Pioneer Construction

Source: Arnie Mikon, Matt Slagle, TowerPinkster; John Green, Locus Development; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photography: Aaron Boot

Related Articles
New owner, new vision for dilapidated Junior Achievement building in Grand Rapids
Developers say restaurant, office tenants to occupy renovated JA Building, Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids' Bread Square Bakery plans to offer vegan baked goods for wholesale, walk-in customers

Matthew Russell arrived for our interview at the location for the proposed Bread Square Bakery (8 Jefferson Ave. SE) on his bike, glasses slightly fogged from the cold air. He carefully unstrapped a bakery box from the bike and we moved inside. The box, filled with samples of dark brown bread, colorful frosted cupcakes, and huge sandwich-style cookies, infused the air with scents of cinnamon and chocolate.

Bread Square Bakery is part of Bartertown Diner, a popular and unique vegan restaurant next door, and Russell is one of the employee-owners in the venture. He guides the restaurant's Internet presence and supplies the eatery with vegan cookies from his side business, Wednesday Evening Cookies. Soon, he'll head up the baking at Bread Square Bakery.

As a journalism student at Western Michigan University, Russell cooked for himself. Meat was pricey and he didn't eat packaged foods, so he bought what he could afford. It took a while before he realized he was eating a vegetarian diet. After that, he studied vegetarianism and decided to pursue it in earnest.

"When I moved to Grand Rapids, I started Wednesday Evening Cookies for a group bike ride around town every Wednesday night," Russell says. "People [from the rides] started ordering cookies from me. It's just grown from there."

Russell says it makes sense for Bartertown Diner to have its own bakery that can provide wholesale vegan baked goods to its own customers, as well as to area restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and walk-in customers. While the restaurant's plan is to continue buying certain baked goods from existing suppliers, Bread Square Bakery will provide some of its vegan and gluten-free breads, cupcakes, and cookies to keep costs down.

The bakery will occupy the rear 750 square feet of 8 Jefferson. The Bloom Collective will occupy the front third. Customers will enter the bakery off the back alley where Russell hopes to add a small patio. The alley is accessible by foot or bike from Jefferson SE and from Fulton St. NE.

Russell hopes to have the bakery open by late spring.

Source: Matthew Russell, Wednesday Evening Cookies and Bread Square Bakery
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Vacant Grand Rapids Public Schools building to be revived

The former Roosevelt Child Development Center (641 Vries St. SW) has not been the home of regular classes for several years, but soon, the building will be home to a new, free preschool for three- and four-year-olds in the neighborhood.

The Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, a child development program funded by a $5 million grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, plans to remodel the building for classes that could begin as early as June.

The free preschool will prepare under-advantaged children for kindergarten, greatly increasing the probability that the children will stay in school and graduate, says Director Nkechy Ezeh, Ed. D. She adds that the neighborhood has only one existing preschool at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

"The families live in a high poverty area," Ezeh says. "There's not a whole lot of time for the parents to spend with children and have family fun times that middle- and high-income families have. For every dollar we spend on these children, we get a return on it. Otherwise, we will pay for it in the future -- those that are not reading by third grade will drop out of high school. The impact is just too much for us to continue and to unintentionally put our children on this path."

Plans include a $108,000 rehabilitation that includes roof repairs, leveling an old step-down entryway, and making the building A.D.A. compliant.

The four-classroom structure will accommodate 16 children in each classroom with two early learning bi-lingual teachers for each class. The schedule is in flux right now and could involve either morning and afternoon preschools, or one preschool session in the morning followed by a Baby Scholars program in the afternoon funded by the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation. The schedule will be firmed up over the coming months, Ezeh says.

Source: Dr. Nkechy Ezeh, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
New preschool opportunity on Grand Rapids' south side opens doors for low-income families
Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative prepares children for kindergarten and life

New preschool opportunity on Grand Rapids' south side opens doors for low-income families

Many low-income children are way behind by the time they enter kindergarten because they lack opportunities for learning and socialization. A Grand Rapids-based preschool program aims to give those kids a place to learn, to grow, and to get a leg up on their future through free preschools in the neighborhoods where many of those children live.

This week, the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative opened a newly remodeled preschool classroom at South End Community Outreach Ministries (SECOM - 1545 Buchanan Ave. SW), its sixth Grand Rapids location, all funded by a $5M grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

"Our focus is children who will be four years old by Dec. 1, 2013, so we can get them ready to go to kindergarten," says Dr. Nkechy Ezeh, director. "Eighty-three percent of the children are not ready for kindergarten. Having small schools in the neighborhood makes it personable for the children, where they can feel connected -- many don't have transportation, and they can walk to school."

Dr. Ezeh says that when a child starts kindergarten and is already behind, they often don't ever catch up. That leads to poor school performance, higher dropout rates, and adults not prepared to be part of the workforce.

The ELNC offers children the chance to be on equal footing with their peers when they enter school. The goal is to have one teacher for every eight children in the class. The SECOM classroom has two full-time teachers who work with 16 children in the morning and another 16 in the afternoon.

Another important part of the preschool program is making sure the children receive a meal. The morning classes receive breakfast and a snack; afternoon classes get lunch and a snack.

"This is future workforce development," Ezeh says. "The long-run impact is the thing that's great to us."

Source: Dr. Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative prepares children for kindergarten and life

The Cheese Lady renovates an old northeast side store to offer world cheeses, wines, Michigan beers

When Heather Zinn was in her favorite specialty food shop, The Cheese Lady store in Muskegon, she overheard a customer say he'd just been in the Kalamazoo store. What? Did that mean there were franchises available? The answer was a resounding maybe.

But Zinn didn't give up. She kept the conversation alive over the next months, and, in October 2012, she opened the company's second franchise location at 315 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids.

"I was going to change careers and I couldn't imagine working for someone else again," Zinn says of her career as a radio station sales rep. "I had my eyes and ears open for what I would do next and this all happened at the right time. It happened organically."

The Cheese Lady offers cheeses from around the U.S. as well as France, Spain, England, and Australia. The store carries the wines, beers, foods, and crackers that go with them. The store also carries a variety of serving options for the cheeses and their accompaniments, including handmade pottery by local potter Rita Shields.

Zinn, her partner Craig Stucky, and landlord Four Jays Properties completed renovating the building, which was most recently a dog grooming business. They refinished the original wood floors, put in new HVAC, sheetrock, and paint. They also opened the store's interior to the daylight with skylights and a wall of storefront windows.

"She has a good crew," says Kathleen Riegler, The Cheese Lady founder and owner of the Muskegon store. "She's responsible for her own store, her own buying, and our franchise model provides supervision and startup, along with a lot of information and training."

Hours: Tues. - Fri. 10 a.m to 6 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Source: Heather Zinn, Kathleen Riegler, The Cheese Lady
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Long vacant space in Grand Rapids' Heartside is "right space, right fit" for new promotions firm

The owners of Creative Studio Promotions say that, after months of searching for office space in downtown Grand Rapids, a long-vacant location in Heartside is the "right space, right fit" for the company and its staff of eight.

Ann Vidro and Menda Wright launched Creative Studio Promotions in June 2012 out of temporary space at Davenport University. When they looked at their future space at 25 Jefferson Ave. SE, it had been vacant for three years and was in need of an image. The pair rehabbed the space with industrial finishes, slat walls, and bright colors and opened on Sept. 1, just in time to entertain clients during ArtPrize 2012.

Wright says her expertise as a sales rep and Vidro's experience as a CPA have given them a combined 30 years of background in preparation for this endeavor. They launched the company with several clients already on board, and have since created several e-commerce sites clients use to promote and manage their arsenal of promotional items. Two of those sites are Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and Priority Health.

"Instead of having a closet full of logo products, we manage that for you," Wright says. "We have our own warehouse partner, Advanced Fulfillment. Clients and their employees and agents can log on and order for trade shows or meetings, and have it shipped to the show, to the client, or to their home, and we track the inventory here."

Wright says the company also designs specific products for clients to help promote a particular message. They can also recycle client's products into new logo items for a specific audience.

Source: Menda Wright, Creative Studio Promotions
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids entrepreneur serves up on-the-go raw foods taste treats from Grand RAWpids

The clever Grand RAWpids brand name of Grand Rapids entrepreneur Christine Despres' packaged raw foods business is a good indicator of the creative juices she brings to her original raw foods taste treats.

Despres, an IT manager by day and certified raw food chef by night, says troubleshooting computer glitches for customers is much like helping people figure out what's going on in their bodies. She says snacks made from raw foods retain an optimum level of nutrients, unlike foods that are cooked at high temperatures.

"The body uses less of its own digestive energy to process the foods because raw foods are alive and have their own enzymes for the digestive process, so you're left with more energy," Despres says. "Nothing is heated above 113 degrees. The goal is to find snacks that people are going to enjoy and convert them into a raw food."

Despres says Grand RAWpids foods are organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, and are naturally sweetened without sugar.

She uses the kitchen at Nourish Organic Market (634 Wealthy St. SE) to make her products, which include Cacao Mint Brownie (sprouted buckwheat flour, Medjool dates, pure peppermint oil, raw cacao powder); Raw Energy Cookie (raw almonds, Michigan organic honey, raw coconut, Medjool dates, topped with a drizzle of raw chocolate); and the fruit-leather-style Strawberry Soother (raw in-season strawberries, lavender oil, and sometimes agave nectar).

Her latest creation will be available in January -- a raw cereal called Squirrel Stash (gluten-free oats, a non-peanut nut butter, and a drizzle of raw chocolate).

Grand RAWpids foods are available online and at Nourish Organic Market, Harvest Health Foods (Cascade store), and at Conlee Oil Company (Clio).

Source: Christine Despres, Grand RAWpids
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Preservation of century-old 4-plex brings new apartments to SE Grand Rapids' Tapestry Square

It might have been easier to raze and rebuild a circa 1915 four-plex on Grand Rapids' southeast side, but the building's character in a neighborhood with just a few stable older buildings is irreplaceable. So, the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) chose to invest $540,000 in the reconstruction of 528 Sheldon Ave. SE.

Jonathan Bradford, CEO of ICCF, the nonprofit leading the charge to redevelop a neglected area of housing now called Tapestry Square (four blocks bounded by Wealthy St. on the north, Division Avenue on the west, Buckley St. on the south and LaGrave Avenue on the east) says the stability of the building meant it should stay in the neighborhood.

Bradford says an absentee landlord "'re-muddled' the building in the mid-1980s and basically threw away any kind of historic character it had."

To fix that, the building was jacked up four feet off the foundation, the foundation was excavated and rebuilt with poured concrete wall and new footings, and the structure was settled on the new foundation. The inside was gutted and rebuilt. The roof, which was the wrong pitch, was rebuilt and replaced, and the outside clad in cement board siding and painted.

Each unit has three small bedrooms -- the original configurations -- and all four units are leased. Tenants will move in at the end of the month.

Bradford says construction students from Grand Rapids Community College worked on the project as part of their training.

A ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. today celebrates the completion of the project.

Source: Jonathan Bradford, Inner City Christian Federation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
Grand Rapids' $45M Wealthy-Jefferson project gets new name, launches phase 2

Bagger Dave's to serve up legendary burgers, Michigan brews on Grand Rapids' downtown waterfront

Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern plans to dig deeper into the West Michigan restaurant and craft beer market with a new location along the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

The new location at 241 W. Fulton St., the foot of the Plaza Towers next to Kinko's, could bring to life some 4,500-square-feet of vacant space near the Riverwalk, connecting it to students from Grand Valley State University's campus. Owners Diversified Restaurant Holdings, LLC, (DRH) counts on the restaurant's proximity to the Van Andel Arena, the entertainment district, and downtown hotels for bringing customers in the front door.

DRH owns 42 restaurants in a number of states, most of which are Buffalo Wild Wings franchises, although it does not own the B-dub restaurant at Fulton St. and Ionia Avenue SW.

"We think downtown Grand Rapids is a pretty amazing place," says DRH's VP of Franchise Sales and Development Bill McClintock. "We think the local people have done a great job of developing downtown. It's a clean, safe, exciting place. We develop restaurants all over Michigan and we see Grand Rapids as a good opportunity to expand the Bagger Dave's brand."

Bagger Dave's entered the Grand Rapids market with a location in Cascade, followed by another in Grandville. The menu features soups, salads, kids' meals, and gluten-free selections, plus a create-your-own burger menu where choices start with burgers from beef, turkey, or black beans, and end with nearly 40 toppings.

McClintock says the restaurant offers a number of Michigan craft beers, Michigan wines, and a full bar.

The first customers should be able to belly up to the table in mid-2013.

Source: Bill McClintock, Diversified Restaurant Holdings, LLC
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
New Grandville Bagger Dave's restaurant to fill 55 full- and part-time openings

Old Federal Building's $31M renovation wins Gold LEED for Kendall College of Art and Design

The $31 million renovation of Grand Rapids' "Old Federal Building" has landed its new owner, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, the coveted Gold LEED for New Construction certification. The massive undertaking to muscle the circa 1909 Beaux Arts building (17 Pearl St. NW) into environmental and structural shape for the creation of art and the education of art students for decades into the future was nothing short of heroic.

A tour of the building with Ryan Idema, TowerPinkster mechanical engineer who headed up the LEED process for mechanicals, and Lee Cobb, facilities director, was punctuated with enthusiasm for the work, a deep respect for the skilled artisans who made it happen, and a love and respect for the building and the vision of her original architect, James Taylor.

Of the 94,000 square feet, nearly half of it was unused and decaying for decades, Idema says. To maintain its historic integrity, crews had to conceal the new mechanical systems and all their accompanying technologies, even though the building provided very little space above the ceilings or inside the walls. The result was a masterful renovation that showcases the building's ornate wall and ceiling moldings, towering ceilings and columns, and heavy dark wood doors and window frames. The original marble and mosaic tile floors glisten, while hallways and classrooms are bright with daylight.

A handful of the LEED and historic preservation highlights include:
•    Replacement or repair of 128 historic windows.
•    Uncovering and restoring 23 original 4-ft. by 4-ft. skylights.
•    Heat and A/C sensor-controlled systems in all classrooms and offices.
•    Energy efficient LED lighting inside and out.
•    100 percent outside air used for venting the metal art studio and ceramics studio.
•    Unobtrusive soundproofing and acoustics control in classrooms, lecture halls, and studios.
•    Two hydraulic elevators push up from the bottom rather than pull up from the top, to avoid having mechanicals housed on the roof (not allowed for historic preservation purposes).
•    Four small high-efficiency boilers heat the entire building.
•    Closed loop hydro cooling system.
•    Halls lined with the original benches that once occupied the building's courtrooms.
•    Discovery of a circa 1909 central vacuum system.

The building opened to students in August 2012.

Architect: TowerPinkster
Construction manager: The Christman Company
Historic Preservation Consultant: Hopkins Burns Design Studio

Source: Ryan Idema, TowerPinkster; Lee Cobb, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photographer: Justin Maconochie for TowerPinkster

Related Articles
Kendall College in Grand Rapids plans $29M expansion into Old Federal Building
$28.5M renovation of Grand Rapids' Historic Federal Building several steps closer to completion
1777 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts