Developers say restaurant, office tenants to occupy renovated JA Building, Grand Rapids

Thousands of people got to experience the cavernous depths of the former Junior Achievement Building in downtown Grand Rapids during the Site:Lab art installations there last April and again this fall during ArtPrize.

The wide open spaces of the iconic building (southeast corner of Fulton St. and Division Avenue), its 12- to 16-foot-high ceilings and concrete floors on all three levels, are all part of the building's appeal to Locus Development owners John Green and Andy Winkel. Green says the planned $4M renovation could bring the neighborhood new office tenants and a "locally-owned restaurant not currently in the downtown."

Green says they are in negotiations with an American food restaurant to occupy some 4,500 square feet of the 7,500-square-foot main level, but stopped short of naming names. Green says talks are also underway with a potential office tenant for 5,500 square feet of the second story, and Locus looks to fill some of the remaining 12,500 square feet, which includes an underground level, with an arts-related organization and an entertainment venue.

"This is the gateway to the Avenue for the Arts, a highly visible building that's been neglected for a number of years," Green says. "There's a lot of activity along South Division and there continues to be several buildings in redevelopment along Division. This is a critical redevelopment, being right on that corner."

"We're always thinking about improving an eyesore that's been there a long time and how to use it to leverage further development on Fulton and Division," says Winkel.

The renovation could begin in early 2012, driven by LEED sustainability guidelines. Green and Winkel envision a new streetscape and historically accurate façade repairs.

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority awarded the project a $65,000 Building Reuse Incentives Program (BRIP) grant, a $35,000 Areaway Fill Incentives Program grant and about $140,000 in TIF credits.

Click here to visit the Facebook page for 2 East Fulton to weigh in on how you'd like to see the building used.

Construction manager: Pioneer Construction
Architect: TowerPinkster and Visbeen Associates

Source: John Green and Andy Winkel, Locus Development
Photographs: Nate Umstead Photography
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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