Grand Rapids reaches for the sky


Ryan Wheeler

The City of Grand Rapids has plans for a 24 story tower.

The city of Grand Rapids has accepted a proposal for the development of a new skyscraper. The city sent out a request for proposal for the skyscraper late last fall. The location for the development is 22 Ottawa Ave. NW on the property known as “the Wedge” where the Ottawa-Fulton parking garage curreneltly resides. On Jan. 21, the city approved the request to Wheeler Development Group (WDG); granting them a one-year option agreement to close on the purchase of the land.

The city wants a mixed-use building with retail, parking, office space and living spaces. The living spaces are to include affordable-housing options as well. To accommodate the city requirements, Ryan Wheeler, president of WDG, said, “We are proposing a mixed-use 24-story tower that will include a ground floor restaurant, five floors of parking, three floors of offices, 10 floors of apartments and five floors of condos.” Wheeler went on to explain the new building’s parking would tie into the current parking structure, keeping in line with the city’s goal of maximizing the space.

WDG named the project City Tower. Based on their proposal that was presented to the city and won them the bid, their timeline is to have the land purchased and negotiations finalized by this coming March, the design finalized in June, and all financing secured and closed in July. Building will begin in September, with the final touches made in December 2022. 

The proposed layout of City Tower will have a ground floor restaurant and lobby, with the second to sixth floors offering 185 parking spaces. The seventh through ninth floors will include mechanical rooms and office space. Following the ninth floor will be 10 floors with a community room and 118 apartments, broken down into nine studios, 69 one-bedrooms and 40 two-bedrooms. The remaining five floors will be made up of condominiums.

City Tower, per the request of the City of Grand Rapids, will prioritize contracting businesses that are certified under one or more of the following enterprises: Micro Local Business Enterprises, Minority Business Enterprise and Women’s Business Enterprise. 

When asked about potential tax money to be used in the project, city media relations manager Steven Guitar said, “To be determined, however, any potential tax money could go into developing additional public parking provided by the new development.” This corresponds with the proposal offered by WDG, which states they would only seek financing from tax dollars to offset the cost of the parking structure.

With the City making many requirements, Wheeler said, “As with any development, there are always site-specific challenges, but right now I don’t see any major impediments to getting this project done. The City wants a high-density residential development on this site, and they are a great partner to work with.”