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Downtown Grand Rapids rooftop bar gets approval from city

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It will be the first of its kind for a hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, and developers say it promises some impeccable views to boot.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission on Thursday approved a developer's plans to build a rooftop bar on top of the iconic Waters Building on Ottawa Avenue.

Serving as an amenity for the incoming Hilton Homewood Suites hotel, the rooftop bar will sit seven stories above the ground and be open only to hotel patrons and their guests.

“In an urban space like this we wanted to take the unique opportunity to build up," said Angela Mann, vice president of operations for Hospitality Specialists.

The 117-year-old Waters Building is in the midst of a $35 million makeover which will include more than 100 hotel rooms and a few dozen apartments along with existing commercial space.

But it will be the rooftop patio with full service bar--planned to be kept open three out of four seasons--that developers hope will set them apart from the competition downtown.

“Guests want to come back and relax, they want to enjoy, they want to unwind and what better opportunity than to be able to come up and be up above the city crowds and all the hectic parking," Mann said.

“Can Grand Rapids rival Chicago? Absolutely, we’re better than that, we’ve got more to offer here, look how gorgeous this is… and now we’ve got a unique hotel experience that can add right into that."

There will be a rooftop deck atop the apartments too. Both patios would be set back several feet from the edge of the building and will not be visible from the ground.

Bill Mast, president of Visser Brothers Inc., said the building was in desperate need of makeover, which hadn't seen a major revamp since the 1980s.

“The building deserved better than it was getting," Mast said. "It’s been a key central figure in downtown for more than a century.”

Mast said a few of the apartment models will be completed and open in time for ArtPrize crowds to check out at the end of September.

The hotel and rooftop bar is slated to be open by next May.

Google Map for coordinates 42.966813 by -85.670706.

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