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Development News

A new ballroom, refurbished apartments, and now a facelift for Grand Rapids McKay Tower




When one of downtown Grand Rapids' most prominent buildings changed hands in May 2012, the new owners decided it was time to bring the grand lady into the 21st century by honoring her architectural history.

McKay Tower, with frontage on Pearl St. NW, Monroe Avenue NW, and Monroe Center NW, one of the city's busiest corners, started out in 1914 as a two-story structure. The building grew by two stories in the mid 1920s to make space for the Grand Rapids National Bank, and shortly thereafter, construction of the main tower brought McKay Tower to 17 stories.

On the second floor, a marble-clad former bank lobby with soaring ceilings is in the midst of a transformation into a majestic event space. On the 15th floor, three luxury apartments overlooking the city below will soon be completed and available for short- and long-term leases.

And now, owners Steadfast Property Holdings, LLC, are planning a small facelift that will preserve the striking terra cotta around the fourth floor for generations to come. Passersby will see scaffolding and covered entries to the main level retail shops in place soon.

"There's a ledge around the fourth floor where water is more likely to pool and the steel joints under the terra cotta are rusted out," says Director of Operations Chaundra Derks. "The steel is the support structure for the terra cotta, so the terra cotta has to be removed and the joints cleaned and redone to keep the terra cotta from falling."

Derks says the repairs will be finished in time for the busy ArtPrize season, and all of the building's tenants, including the retail shops, will be open as usual during construction.

"We want to bring the building back to what it used to be," Derks says. "We want people to be proud that so much care and attention went into making the building an important part of Grand Rapids."

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

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