It's Back to the Future for former Zondervan building in Grand Rapids' Eastown

The behemoth of a building on the corner of Lake Dr. SE and Robinson Road in Grand Rapids' Eastown could soon lose its dreary facade on the first floor and be transformed back to its original terra cotta beauty.

The Kingsley Building, also known as the former Zondervan warehouse and the former Kent Record Management building, had its original plate glaze terra cotta and its storefront windows covered 57 years when it became Zondervan's storage facility. But now Bazzani Associates has been hired to do the heavy lifting and uncover the art deco building's beauty and restore it as 14,000-square-feet of new retail space along both Lake Drive and Robinson Road.

"The majority of people I talk to about it say 'what five story building?'" says Baird Hawkins, a sales associate for Bazzani. "It's just a blond wall that people have been driving past for half a century.

"The original storefront windows are there, they're just hidden," Hawkins says. "Zondervan put the stuff on the facade and a 14-foot wall on the interior but there are blinds still hanging on the inside of some of the windows, it's just boxed in and has been sitting for 57 years now."

Hawkins says the building was built in 1927 by noted architect George S. Kingsley who was known for his stylish warehouses. The Kingsley Building is a concrete structure designed to hold 400 pounds per square foot for the furniture industry. That has made the building difficult to sell, thus prompting the renovation of the first floor, instead.

The retail bays will be ready this fall. Hawkins says there are some prospective tenants, but he declined to give details.

Source: Baird Hawkins, Bazzani Associates
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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