New owner, new vision for dilapidated Junior Achievement building in Grand Rapids

A dilapidated eyesore on Grand Rapids' most visible corner got a new lease on life in December when commercial developer Locus Development purchased it with plans to revitalize the building as the gateway to the city's Avenue for the Arts.

Locus purchased the two-story building at 2 East Fulton St., on the corner of Fulton and Division Avenue, the central intersection where the city is divided into its northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest sections. Locus purchased it for an undisclosed amount from Mercantile Bank, who acquired the property for $650,000 through a Sheriff sale, says John Green, Locus co-owner.

"Our plan is, over the next 12 months, to work through the building evaluation, architectural drawings and project costing and pursue all applicable incentives available for that property," Green says.

Those incentives could come from state and federal historic tax credits, Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority programs and TIF credits that could include brownfield redevelopment monies, Green says.

Green wouldn't pinpoint a specific potential tenant or final vision for the renovation, but noted his desire to use the building for an arts-centric purpose.

"I, ideally, would love to see some type of arts-related organization on the main floor," Green says. "The lower level ceilings are 16 to 18 feet in some areas and could be quite a spectacular gallery space if done right. The second floor could be a great commercial space for offices for any company that wants to be in the heart of the city.

"I think (the building) will stand as a symbol for the Avenue for the Arts," he adds. "It's at the gateway where our core business district joins with the arts, which is a critical part of what we have going in Grand Rapids."

Construction could begin in early 2012 with completion before ArtPrize 2012.

Source: John Green, Locus Development

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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