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Corewell Health wants to demolish 5 buildings to make room for parking for new downtown campus

Posted By: mlive on October 8, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

As construction continues on Corewell Health’s eight-story, $98 million administrative office complex on Monroe Avenue NW, the health system is now seeking approval to demolish five nearby buildings and replace them with four surface parking lots.

The health care provider’s request for a special land use permit to build the surface parking lots for its Center for Transformation complex at 648 Monroe Ave. NW is scheduled to go before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission for consideration Oct. 26.

The parking lots would be built in phases and would contain a total of 320 spaces.

The parking is needed to replace the same number of parking spaces that would be lost once Corewell develops three neighboring properties with market rate housing and housing for its graduate medical education program, according to planning documents submitted by Corewell to the city.

“We do understand that their vision for this area is not surface parking lots,” said Grand Rapids Planning Director Kristin Turkelson, when asked about the city’s perspective on Corewell’s plan. “But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, and they’re going through our processes.”

The five buildings being eyed for demolition are a mix of old industrial structures just east of Corewell’s new office complex in the Monroe North neighborhood. The properties are: 648 Bond Ave. NW, 647 Ottawa Ave. NW, 637 Ottawa Ave. NW, 700 Ottawa Ave. NW and 711 Ionia Ave. NW.

The properties being eyed for the student housing are 648 Ottawa Ave. NW and 649 Ionia Ave. NW. Market rate housing is being considered for a 706 Bond Ave. NW.

The construction of new surface parking lots in downtown Grand Rapids has come under scrutiny in recent years. With a shortage of vacant land downtown and a push to add more housing, officials say surface parking lots often aren’t the best way to use land. In 2017, the city considered changing its zoning code to ban new surface parking lots downtown but opted against doing so.

Corewell Health officials were not available for an interview.

But the health system said in a statement that it’s seeking approval to demolish unoccupied buildings it owns to replace parking that will be lost from the development of the student- and market-rate housing.

“These proposed plans allow us to develop residential housing for Corewell Health graduate medical residents and fellows in the near future,” the statement said. “The proposed housing will allow residents to live within a walkable distance to the medical center and will help Corewell Health attract top talent to West Michigan.”

Corewell Health’s Center for Transformation is being built to consolidate the health system’s administrative operations in the Grand Rapids region at one central campus.

It represents a big project in the city’s Monroe North neighborhood, and will bring hundreds of workers and activity to the area. The neighborhood has seen significant development in recent years with new apartments and a seven-story, 250-room Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel.

Corewell’s Center for Transformation includes a renovation of the Brassworks building at 648 Monroe Ave. NW, and the construction of an eight-story office building and two adjacent parking structures. Expected to open in summer 2024, the complex will replace 26 separate spaces Corewell leased in the Grand Rapids area for administrative operations.

Overall, the complex is expected to have capacity for roughly 1,800 employees.

Corewell says the construction of the housing for its medical education program is expected to start in 2024 or 2025 once funding has been secured. The documents did not specify the cost of the project. In addition, construction of the market rate housing is expected to begin in 2025 or 2026. Further details were not provided on the market rate housing in the planning documents.

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