Historic Olds Manor downtown property to be redeveloped

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- CWD Real Estate announced Tuesday, Dec. 30 redevelopment plans for one of downtown Grand Rapids' last remaining vacant buildings.

Olds Manor, located near the downtown Post Office near the corner of Michigan and Monroe, will be redeveloped into a mixed-use building with retail and residential apartments. The building will include 9,500 square feet of space on the ground floor for shopping and a restaurant. The rest of the space is to be filled with 77 one and two bedroom market rate apartments with a handful of condominiums reserved for the 10th floor and newly created 11th floor.

Construction on the building formally known as The Rowe Hotel, is expected to begin in the spring of 2015 and completed by 2016. The cost of the project, estimated to be between $22 and 26 million, includes restoration of the building's two historic facades, and creation of an underground parking structure.

Nick Koster, vice president of operations with CWD says maintaining the building's historical integrity was a top priority.

"It was everyone’s hope from Day 1 that we’d be able to re-use this building, it’s beautiful, it’s part of our city’s history," he said.

“It was built in the 1920s, it's a beautiful piece of architecture right in the middle of the urban renewal area too which makes it all the more special."

The building sits across the street on Monroe from the old Grand Rapids Press Building, which was slated to be demolished and redeveloped earlier this year, and adjacent to the old downtown Post Office, a largely unused facility today.

"This is a very good development as far as the downtown Post Office is concerned, we will be able to provide a level of postal and mailing convenience to the occupants of the former Olds Manor," Sabrina Todd, spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service Greater Michigan District, told FOX 17 in an email statement.

"The Downtown Grand Rapids Post Office houses the postal processing area, our retail unit is on the first floor, and administrative staff  on the upper floors. We look forward to their presence and being able to be of service to them."

Tim Kelly, with the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. said the project signals a much needed next step in residential development in the city, which is being outpaced by demand.

“We currently have about 5,000 residents in downtown and we think we need to close to double that to get to that tipping point … so each residential project is great news," Kelly said.

"What we hear from the private sector is in order for new investment to occur they need more bodies in downtown, so as the housing market grows and continues to be healthy we’re getting closer to that number.”

The latest projections from DGRI estimate roughly 2,000 new housing units to be added to the downtown area over the next 5-7 years, increasing downtown occupancy by about 3,500 people.

The project must still receive approval from the Downtown Development Authority and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Those public meetings are expected to get underway in January.

The original Rowe Hotel was opened in January 1923 by Fred N. Rowe, president of the then Grand Rapids-based Valley City Milling Company. The building was then sold to the Manager hotel chain in the 1940s when the owners renamed it the Manager-Rowe and it remained a hotel through the early 1960s. In 1963, the American Baptist Home and Development Corporation purchased the building and converted it to a home for the elderly. The building was closed in 2001 and then purchased by RDV Corp. a few years later.

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