Hilton and apts. going into Waters Building

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A downtown Grand Rapids landmark is shuffling its office tenants to make space for a hotel and apartments.

The Waters Building, located on Ottawa Avenue NW between Pearl and Lyon streets, will no longer contain only office and retail space.

The Waters Building in downtown Grand Rapids. (April 15, 2014)The offices currently scattered across upstairs floors will be moved to the three middle floors on one end of the building. The other end of those three floors will become a Hilton hotel. The top two floors will be converted into apartments.

Ground-floor businesses, the Sundance Grill and banks, will stay put.

The Kent County Land Bank Authority, which has been located on the fifth floor of the building for about 18 months, will be among the offices moved as floors five and six become apartments.

“We’re going to have to move. We knew that going in. There was a clause in our contract that they will give us notice and stay in the same building,” Dave Allen of the authority said. “Not a surprise to us. It’s something we expected and frankly, it’s something we support. The Land Bank Authority’s very pro-development, and anything that brings more development to downtown, we’re all for it.”

Some tenants said they have already been asked by building architects how much space they will need.

“Nobody is being asked to leave, so there’s going to be some consolidation and some new plans, and when they get there, they’ll let us know and we’ll take a look at them,” JW Messner, Inc. CEO Kline Kauramaki said.

Kauramaki said his advertising and marketing company has occupied the same space for 35 years. He hasn’t yet been informed where his offices will be moved.

“It’s a big change. We’re not entirely certain what the change is going to be, but we know it will be different,” Kauramaki said. “We embrace it. We’re excited about it.

Some tenants said they think the addition of a hotel and apartments will be a boost for the waters building, which has lost several big renters in the last year or so. And the previous owners of the building lost it to a lender.

“Everybody seems pretty amenable to it,” Allen said. “I think if you’ve been in this building long enough, you know there’s a lot of dead space, a lot of wasted space, and common sense will tell you that something had to happen. I mean, I don’t think anybody likes being in a building that was only 50% occupied.”

But some tenants are more nervous about how the change will affect them, worried they won’t get in the new office wing things they liked about their current space.

But until they see plans, many said, they are ignoring invitations from other downtown office buildings that are trying to lure away tenants who may be disappointed.

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