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Finally, Grand Rapids' historic Kendall Building on $4M journey from crumbling to renewal

If Derek Coppess's plans work out, the regeneration of the dilapidated historic Kendall Building in downtown Grand Rapids will begin in 30 days -- a venture that could infuse a neglected, yet vital, corner of the downtown core with renewed vibrancy and energy.

The Kendall Building (16 Monroe Center Ave. NE) sits next to longtime business Reynolds & Sons Sporting Goods and overlooks the intersection of Fulton St. and Division Avenue. Coppess and his 616 Development plan to bring $3 million in new retail spaces, 12 market rate apartments, and his own company to the circa 1880 structure. This, in conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority's proposed renovation of the adjacent Monument Park, could continue the shift of one of the city's major gateways from desolate to thriving.

Coppess paid $750,000 for the five-story building.

"Placemaking is a real buzz word, and the beauty of making a place is to fill the places with people," Coppess says. "We think the upper floors have been vacant three to four decades; it's a little bit frozen in time."

He adds that, in addition to the recent construction of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and the creation of The Gallery Apartments, both at Fulton and Division, "MoDiv helped bring people further down Monroe Center. The Children's Museum is great, and if we get [Monument] Park done into a great new green space, and with the old JA Building across the street under the control of some really great developers (Locus Development), the energy coming in and out of our building will create a lot of energy and harmony on that corner."

Construction plans include a rooftop deck, a large media/gathering room in the basement (which has original brick floors), and re-use of many of the building's architectural elements. Those elements include iced-glass dental office doors with hand-painted signage on them, which will be reinvented as barn-style sliding doors for the apartments.

Architect: Lott3Metz
Construction manager: First Companies

Source: Derek Coppess, 616 Development; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Cherry Deli owner to open urban deli in Grand Rapids' Heartside "38" building

Scott Schulz, owner of Grand Rapids' Cherry Deli, has been working over a year to bring his unique recipe for a new deli to Heartside. The eatery, called Two Beards Deli, will open in 2,200 square feet on the main level of "38," the new liner building that fronts along Commerce Avenue SW and Weston St. SW.

The name "Two Beards" came about because both Schulz and deli general manager Chris Sommerfeldt have beards. The name started as a joke when brainstorming names with building owners John Green and Andy Winkel of Locus Development, Schulz says. "About a year later, they brought up the Two Beards name and we figured if they remembered it after a year, that it was pretty good."

The deli menu will feature about 100 sandwiches named after famous people with beards, like ZZ Top and Obi Wan Kenobi, and the décor will include wall images of the eight major styles of beards.

Schulz says the deli ventures into new territory by offering its first breakfast menu that includes breakfast paninis, oatmeal, yogurt and a coffee bar. The menu also features vegan and vegetarian options for both breakfast and lunch.

"The location has us pretty excited, because it's close to Van Andel Arena, lots of office workers, and the building itself has residents living here and people working in the building," Schulz says. "And Cooley Law and Aveda Institute [are] on the street." Schulz says the deli expects to work with Pyramid Scheme down the street, which doesn't offer food service.

Schulz says a planned Kickstarter campaign will help the restaurant raise funds to transform some of the Grand Rapids' ash trees that were cut down due to the Emerald Ash Borer into tabletops and chairs for the deli.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days.

Source: Scott Schulz, Two Beards Deli; Locus Development
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' WMCAT Building renovation looking good to become new HQ of Acton Institute

Raising the floor on the main level of the building at Fulton St. and Sheldon Blvd. SE could be just the beginning of raising community awareness of The Acton Institute, a faith-based proponent of free-market economies across the world. The institute could make 25,000 square feet of the first floor and basement level of the building its new headquarters come December.

The move will bring the Acton Institute from quiet office space tucked away inside the Waters Building in downtown Grand Rapids to a prominent corner of a busy, redeveloping neighborhood just a block east of the new Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts and The Gallery Apartments.

The building, known locally as "The Wim-CAT Building" for its second-floor tenant, the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), will have a high-tech auditorium with tiered seating on the lower level for conferences and global education events. The Acton Institute has offices in Italy, Brazil, Austria, Zambia and Argentina and manages events from Grand Rapids.
 
Pioneer Construction is the construction manager of the project. "The [original] floor on the main level has an area that's raised about two feet," says Pioneer Construction Project Manager Mike Verbeek. "The basement ceiling height is only about nine feet, and the first floor ceiling height is 15 feet. So we're raising the floor a couple feet to make the main floor all one level and excavating down a couple of feet in the basement for the tiered seating area [in the auditorium]."

The main floor will be office space for Acton's 40-plus staff. The building is being constructed according to SERF (Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities) standards, and is, perhaps, the first building in Grand Rapids to be built to these standards.

"SERF is a fairly new certification that's an alternative to the LEED certification," says Chris Beckering, Pioneer Construction business development director.

"This is another catalyst project that will bring in extra people to the area who will use the restaurants and the shops," Verbeek says. "And Acton will bring in speakers and conference people as well."

Source: Mike Verbeek, Chris Beckering, Pioneer Construction
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
Free-market group, Acton Institute, buys downtown Grand Rapids' "WMCAT Building" for new HQ

Tech company Springthrough to make leap downtown

You know it's a good sign that when you order new furniture for your growing office, by the time it gets delivered, you need to order more.

That's the situation that rapidly growing technology company Springthrough is facing these days. Their growth has been so dramatic in the past few years that they've decided it's time for a new home, and have chosen 62 Commerce SW in the Heartside District in downtown Grand Rapids to call their own.

They plan to lease both floors of the 13,500-square-foot building that sits wedged between 38 Commerce SW and Pyramid Scheme. The vacant, ornate brick and wood-beamed building dates back to the early part of the 1900s, when the historic Heartside District and Commerce Avenue went through a building boom. Commerce Avenue has seen another bit of a boom in the last 10 years, making it one of the fastest redeveloping areas in downtown.

According to LeeAnne Williams, marketing director at Springthrough, the company embarked on the strategy to find new space in November of last year, which had only become more imperative in 2012. They currently are housed in two former industrial buildings on the NE side of Grand Rapids. While certainly not a bad area, Williams explains that "having our workers in two separate buildings isn't the best situation for employee morale."

Springthrough has nearly 50 employees, and are "hiring weekly," according to Williams. They've had great success finding local internship talent out of Grand Valley State University, but do find it challenging to find good software developers and architects.

"We feel that downtown has the look, fit, feel and atmosphere for our people," says Williams. Moving into the new building in September of this year will give them the ability to put everyone under one roof, and provide expansion space for the foreseeable future.

Springthrough, founded in 2000 by Mike Williams, provides software solutions in five practice areas: managed services, support services, interactive services, app development and technology solutions consultants. Their customers are located throughout the Midwest and U.S., including providing Facebook application services for a division of Disney.

Source: LeeAnne Williams, Springthrough
Writer: Jeff Hill, Publisher
Photography: Jeff Hill, Publisher

$28.5M renovation of Grand Rapids' Historic Federal Building several steps closer to completion

The $28.5 million renovation of the former Federal Building in Grand Rapids (17 Pearl St. NW) is close to being ready for students and faculty this fall. The renovation will provide some 91,000 square feet of classroom and gallery space for Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.

A soft opening earlier this week showcased the art of Kendall’s Studio Excellence Award winners -- students selected from the graduating class of 2012 -- and allowed visitors to take self-guided tours, the only sneak peek for the public until the facility opens later this fall.

"All the interior renovation is complete," says Dr. Oliver H. Evans, Kendall president. "We have expanded our sculpture program, so there are ceramics and metal facilities. We've established space for our new fashion studies program, and space for our new undergrad in collaborative design, which includes a materials library."

The building's most recent long-term use was as the site of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which used the third and fourth floors as storage space. Those floors "have been completely redone and will be completely utilized," says Dr. Evans.

The original wide stairwells, the marble throughout the building, and many other historic aspects of the facility have been maintained, says Dr. Evans. The façade has been cleaned and the original windows replaced with historically accurate new windows.  

In addition to more gallery and studio space for students, the building will have a small café.

"This building really allows Kendall to expand and to grow how it serves our credit and non-credit students," Evans says. "Kendall now occupies three city blocks -- where we are now (17 Fountain St. NW), the Federal Building and 5 Lyon student housing. We really have been able to create a community of learning in a revitalized downtown area where there's a developing and very rich arts community."

Construction and renovation: The Christman Company

Source: Dr. Oliver H. Evans, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Kendall College in Grand Rapids plans $29M expansion into Old Federal Building

Law firm Bloom Sluggett Morgan opens in Grand Rapids' entertainment district

In the midst of Grand Rapids' thriving entertainment district, a new law firm quietly opened its doors last week and the owners can't wait to become fixtures in this neighborhood of change.

Bloom Sluggett Morgan (15 Ionia Ave. SW) chose to put down roots in the growing Heartside neighborhood next to the Van Andel Arena because of its vitality.

"We really wanted to be in the middle of everything," says Crystal Morgan, a partner in the firm with Cliff Bloom and Jeff Sluggett. "It feels very positive and all the restaurants give us an opportunity to get out into the community and to bring clients to a fun area."

Morgan says that, although the firm just launched, the three partners and attorney Richard Butler have some 75 years' experience in general municipal law -- a niche market of government, municipal and public sector clients. In addition to the municipal law background of each attorney, Morgan says Bloom is an expert in riparian law and Butler has library law expertise.

The 2,500-square-foot office on the sixth floor has a traditional loft feel with high ceilings and exposed-brick walls.

"West Michigan is a growing area and there are a lot of exciting [municipal] projects," Morgan says. "Though cities are strapped for money, they're really looking for ways to share services and survive in this economy. We're here to stay; we're dedicated to the area and to our clients."

Source: Crystal Morgan, Bloom Sluggett Morgan; Andrea Snyder, STUDIO3TWENTY
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Perception, longtime Grand Rapids gallery, moves to new Heartside location after 19 years

When Perception opened at 7 Ionia Ave. SW in 1989, owner Kim L. Smith says the only other business was Richmond Stamp across the street. Now, with the thriving entertainment district that's sprung up around the Van Andel Arena and the future Grand Rapids Brewing Company development in Perception's space, Smith, an energetic and passionate lover of art, seized the opportunity to buy a building and relocate the gallery.

The new location at 210 E. Fulton St., in the former EyeCons Gallery, offers 2,000-square-feet of gallery space and 2,200-square-feet of workshop space. The iconic brick building greets visitors with a unique corner entry framed by storefront windows that will give passersby a glimpse of the treasures inside.

The current gallery overflows with original art from America and Europe, with hundreds of oil paintings, watercolors and acrylics, and an eclectic mix of furniture pieces, like the ancient hand-carved chair for royalty that sits next to a 1970s polygraph chair.

Smith, who was constantly on the move during our interview -- pointing out works in the current gallery, then seated, then giving a free appraisal on an Asian carving to a customer, then getting a chart from the backroom, then talking with a utility service technician -- seems to put the same energy into art research and customer service.

"I offer a free verbal appraisal for anyone who brings anything through the front door," Smith says. Last year, according to Smith's hash-marked, color-coded chart where he tracks the number of visitors, appraisals and other things, he appraised 881 pieces brought in by 322 people.

Knowledge of his trade -- much of it gained through research, he says -- is crucial to his paying business: written, documented art appraisals for insurance purposes and estate valuations for which he charges $150 per hour.

Smith expects to stay open during the relocation and will have a sale on hundreds of frames and some art at the end of April. He hopes to be in the new shop by April 30.

Source: Kim L. Smith, Perception
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photographs: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

An outdated Heartside building becomes modern guest house for Saint Mary's Health Care families

Saint Mary's Health Care is in the midst of transforming an outdated mid-century building directly behind the hospital into a contemporary and welcoming guest house for the families of patients.

The former St. Luke's House on the corner of Lafayette Avenue SE and Cherry St. SE will soon be the new $3.5 million Sophia's House, named after the mother of lead donor Peter M. Wege.

The guest house features 15 private guest rooms with televisions and wireless Internet access, a larger family-sized guest room, and common areas that include a kitchen, living room/library, a game room with a television and Wii, a children's alcove, computer center and a fitness room.

"The guest house will be for patient families who come from over 30 miles away while their loved one is being cared for at Saint Mary's," says Michelle Rabideau, executive director of the Saint Mary's Foundation, the fundraising arm of Saint Mary's Health Care and overseer of the guest house operations.

"Also, if a patient is coming from over 30 miles away and has an early morning surgery, they can come in the night before and stay at Sophia's House," Rabideau says. "They'll be less anxious, their car is already parked and then can just walk across the street to the hospital."

Rabideau says the design includes a homey feel with all the amenities of a hotel, warm colors and is just yards away from the hospital and Lack's Cancer Center.

An overnight stay is $35 per room, and guests can bring in their own food to prepare in the kitchen, says Rabideau.

The guest house will open on Monday, June 4. Sophia's House will begin taking reservations in May.

Interior design: Progressive AE
Construction manager: Erhardt Construction
Furnishings: Custer

Source: Michelle Rabideau, Saint Mary's Foundation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Downtown movie theater proposed for the Heartside District

Grab the popcorn and the Mike & Ikes. Many residents of Grand Rapids have long been clamoring for a downtown movie theater as one of many "must haves," and it appears as though that may become a reality in the coming years. J.D. Loeks, President of Loeks Theatres, Inc and Celebration Cinemas presented conceptual designs of a new 60,000 square foot movie theater and retail complex to the Downtown Development Authority this week, capping off weeks of rumors that a new entertainment complex might be coming to the Heartside area.

The city-owned parking lot where the development is proposed, known as Area 5, is located south of the Van Andel Arena near Ionia Ave. and Oakes Street. The lot was listed by the DDA in February of 2012 to solicit potential development proposals. Jackson Entertainment LLC, representing Loeks, presented an offer on the property, and was seeking approval of the option before the board (which was approved) at this week's meeting. 

In addition to showing first-run movies on eight or nine screens using advanced audio/visual technology, Loeks is hoping that the theater will provide multi-use functionality for the growing convention and life sciences industries in downtown Grand Rapids. This sentiment was echoed by Doug Small of Experience GR at the DDA meeting. Their goal is to attract over 400,000 visitors to the theater each year.

Dating back to 1944, the Loeks family has had a movie theater presence in Grand Rapids, beginning with the purchase of the Midtown Cinema at the corner of Pearl St. and Ionia Avenue. Though the downtown area has not had a working stand-alone movie theater in over 50 years, Loeks Theatres operates four movie theaters in the Grand Rapids area, as well as numerous other locations around the State.

No specific timeline was given by Loeks for when the project would start, but optimistically,  construction would begin within a year.

A similar movie theater, retail and nine-story condo complex was proposed in 2006 for the same parcel by a Farmington Hills based developer, but never materialized. The Heartside Historic District surrounding Area 5 has seen over $500 Million in new and redevelopment projects in the last 15 years, much of which was initiated after the building of the Van Andel Arena in 1996.

Source: Anne Marie Bessette, Downtown Development Authority

31 apartments underway near Grand Rapids' Cooley Law with development of Grand Central Lofts

One of the last vacant buildings to be redeveloped on Grand Rapids' Commerce Avenue SW should be complete by late fall, bringing 31 loft apartments to Heartside.

Fusion Properties is giving the building a massive $3 million overhaul following a 15-year stretch when the building at 100 Commerce, at the crossroads of Commerce and Oakes St. SW, sat vacant and decaying across from Cooley Law School's Grand Rapids campus.

"I was a partner and contractor in the development of Hopson Flats, which is mostly three- and four-bedroom apartments," says Doug Gulker, managing partner of Fusion Properties and Gulker Group. "Gulker Group manages Hopson Flats, and we found there is a need for more one- and two-bedroom apartments. Grand Central Lofts is not a student-only project, but we expect a lot of our tenants to be Cooley Students."

Gulker says his research shows that the aging four-story building was once a commercial bakery called City Bakery. It's most recent use was as a manufacturing facility for Fireboy, maker of fire protection products.

Of the 31 apartments, six will be studios, plus 16 one-bedroom and 9 two-bedroom lofts. Some 1,500 square feet on the main level will be retail with storefront windows overlooking both Commerce and Oakes.

"Ideally, we would like some kind of coffee shop or small convenience store for local business people and students, maybe something with a lounge area," Gulker says. "There's not much around there where residents can go to grab a gallon of milk."

The apartments will have exposed brick walls, new wood floors in the main living areas, ceramic tile in the bathrooms and carpeting in the bedrooms, says Gulker. Ten-foot-high ceilings and numerous windows maximize the natural light.

The project secured State and Federal Historic tax credits and Brownfield Credits, totaling about 40 percent of the project costs, says Gulker.

Design architect: Hooker DeJong, Inc.
Construction manager: Gulker Group

Source: Doug Gulker, Fusion Properties and Gulker Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

26 urban loft apartments slated for two buildings in Grand Rapids' entertainment district

Twenty-six urban loft apartments will soon grace the upper floors of two prominent buildings in Grand Rapids' burgeoning entertainment district. 616 Development, sister company to 616 Lofts, will create the lofts by combing 1 Ionia SW and 7 Ionia SW, the buildings that run a half block south from the corner of Fulton St. and Ionia SW.

Last year, Derek Coppess, owner of 616 Development and 616 Lofts, announced plans to develop urban lofts in little pockets around the city, beginning with 25 lofts at 139 Pearl St. NW and 206 Grandville Ave. SW. Now, he's ready to move ahead with a new $7.5 million plan.

The project will combine the two buildings on Ionia into one 50,000-square-foot mixed-use center that features the apartments on floors three, four and five, commercial tenants on floor two and the historic Grand Rapids Brewing Company will occupy the entire main level, including the former My Bar space. See Grand Rapids Brewing Company story here.

The tenants already on the second level, Conduit Studios and The Judson Group, will stay. Perception Gallery on the main level will relocate.

"One Ionia is five stories and 7 Ionia is four-and-a-half stories, so we will remove the floor between floors four and four-and-a-half and will make seven two-story units within that space," Coppess says. "The apartments will have windows overlooking either Ionia or Fulton and the Van Andel Arena [to the rear of the building]."

Coppess says construction will start within 30 days.

Design and construction: First Companies

Source: Derek Coppess, 616 Development; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Historic Grand Rapids Brewing Company to open expansive microbrewery next door to Van Andel Arena

The historic Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC) that once operated in the heart of downtown will be back this summer in a new, expansive location next door to the Van Andel Arena, the heart of the city's busy entertainment district. The brewery, which was in business for over 100 years, first on Michigan and Ottawa and later on 28th St. SE, will be the groundfloor tenant at 1 and 7 Ionia SW with nearly 10,000 square feet and seating for 450.

Barfly Ventures, owned by Mark and Michelle Sellers, announced today that the new venue will be family-friendly, with children's menu items as well as 8 to 10 specialty beers, including a new version of GRBC's original Silver Foam beer. Barfly owns some of Grand Rapids' most popular gathering places in the entertainment district, including HopCat, McFadden's, Stella's Lounge and the The Viceroy and is a partner in The Pyramid Scheme, all within two blocks of the new GRBC location.

Derek Coppess of 616 Development and 616 Lofts recently purchased 1 and 7 Ionia SW and will combine the two buildings to create 26 loft apartments and commercial spaces on the upper floors. The buildings front along Ionia on the east and a brick paved alley on the west; 1 Ionia NW also runs along W. Fulton St., kitty corner from The B.O.B. and its proposed market/concert venue.

New indoor/outdoor seating, created by replacing three loading dock doors on the alley side with glass garage doors, will open the bar to the Van Andel Arena and provide outdoor seating for 15.

"This is arguably the prime spot for a bar in Grand Rapids. If I could pick any location, it would be this place or where The B.O.B is -- but that's taken," says Mark Sellers with a laugh. "To have three sides facing different streets is incredible."

Preliminary plans to host GRBC in the Brass Works Building fell through, Sellers says.

The new GRBC could create some 60 jobs. Sellers hopes to have the bar open sometime in August.

Architectural design: Greg Metz, Lott3Metz

Source: Mark Sellers, Barfly Ventures; Chris Knap, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Renderings: Dixon Architecture

East Lansing-based Netvantage Marketing sees promise in Grand Rapids, opens satellite office

The leaders of East Lansing's Netvantage Marketing say their backgrounds in consulting gave them a desire to move web-based marketing from the sterile realm of the Internet to the more personal environment of face-to-face meetings with clients. That desire prompted the duo, Adam Henige and Joe Ford, to open a satellite office in Grand Rapids to be closer to clients here.

The new office is on the third floor above San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 W. Fulton St., Suite 301). It's part of a group of offices under development by CWD Real Estate Investment that have private offices and shared conference rooms and a kitchen, says Henige.

Netvantage hopes construction will wrap up for an early April opening. An East Lansing employee will relocate to Grand Rapids and staff the office.

Netvantage Marketing specializes in search engine optimization, social media consulting and paid search management, says Ford. "With most of our clients, the key overarching statement we hear is 'when someone Googles our service, we don't come up,'" he says.

"We've found that a lot of people are really good at developing websites, but not good at directing people to them," says Henige. So, the company focuses on helping other companies build a web presence. If web design and development are needed, Netvantage collaborates with local companies who specialize in those services.

The client list for the four-year-old company is impressive and varied, including: Autocam Medical, DTE Energy, Hyundai, Suzuki, General Motors, University of California Berkeley and Gordon Food Service.

"We've been able to get national clients that we've never met, but we really like to give it the personal touch," Henige says. "To be able to sit down in someone's space or walk through it is one of the reasons we've been so successful so far."

Source: Adam Henige and Joe Ford, Netvantage Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Free-market group, Acton Institute, buys downtown Grand Rapids' "WMCAT Building" for new HQ

The downtown Grand Rapids building often known as the "Wim-CAT Building" will soon undergo a facelift and transformation that will meet the needs of its new owner, the Acton Institute.

The Acton Institute, a faith-based proponent of free-market economies worldwide, will relocate from leased space in the Waters Building to the historic two-story structure on the corner of Fulton St. NE and Sheldon Blvd. The building's current tenants, West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), will continue to occupy the building's second level. Acton Institute will move into the main level and basement.

"We're growing internationally and domestically, and have over 40 staff, so this means we will have space for meetings, technology and lectures," says John Couretas, director of communications. "We also have an office in Rome and affiliates in Brazil, Austria, Zambia and Argentina, so we're doing events all over the world and a lot of that is managed from Grand Rapids."

Design plans are in the beginning stages, but Couretas says the space will include a multi-purpose meeting and lecture space, as well as accommodations for Acton's documentary and video curricula, in addition to office space. He expects the new location will provide room for educational events for students, seminarians and clergy who enroll in Acton's programs, as well as enough space for future growth. Couretas says the institute's largest event, Acton University, attracted 625 participants from 69 countries to Grand Rapids in 2011.

"We wanted to stay downtown and invest in downtown Grand Rapids, and this was an ideal place for us," Couretas says. "Obviously, we're going to be one of many organizations and investors that are helping Grand Rapids create a vibrant downtown for the future. That's an effort where there's a lot of shared activity going on. It's a much bigger picture when you look at downtown as a whole, and we're big believers in the downtown of Grand Rapids."

A construction start date has not been determined.

Architect: Via Design
Construction manager: Pioneer Construction

Source: John Couretas, Acton Institute
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Mary Free Bed plans $48M expansion of rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids' Heartside

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has plans to build a 115,000-square-foot addition connected to the west side of its existing hospital near the corner of Wealthy St. SE and Jefferson Avenue SE in Grand Rapids.

The four-story structure will rise above the property now used for Saint Mary's Health Services parking along Jefferson Avenue, allowing for an enhanced parking area under the structure, says Mary Free Bed CEO Kent Riddle. Included in the $48 million construction cost is a complete revamp of the existing 80-bed hospital to all-private patient rooms.

The entire project will bring another 40 private beds to the hospital campus, larger therapy rooms with state-of-the-art equipment, and family-friendly gathering areas and overnight accommodations.

"Families are an integral part to the rehabilitation process, and currently, if parents are staying with children [who are patients], the parent has to sleep in the room on a cot," Riddle says. "Also, patients coming from outside Kent County have families that need to stay in the area, so we're looking at adding 10 rooms where families can stay overnight or just have a place to get away from it all."

Riddle stresses that everything is still in the early planning stages, and while there's a general vision guiding the process, details have yet to be hammered out.

The main thrust of the vision is to provide beds for patients who no longer need acute care, but who still need around-the-clock care and rehabilitative therapy.

"Patients already come to Mary Free Bed from around the country and Canada," Riddle says. "We're seeing an increase in patients from the east side of the state and other areas outside our typical regional area. The new facility will allow us to have even more sub-specialization in therapies for pediatrics, amputees, stroke rehabilitation, brain injury rehabilitation and oncology, pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation."

Riddle expects the construction to be completed by late 2013.

Source: Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital; Mary Ann Sabo, Sabo Public Relations
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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