Kendall One Step Closer to Renovation of Old Federal Building

Posted February 23, 2010

The Grand Rapids Economic Development Corporation has signed off on a $28.5 million financing plan to renovate the old Federal Building.

Owned by the city since 1975, the building was home to the Grand Rapids Art Museum from 1980 to 2007. It currently costs the city about $100,000 a year to maintain the empty building, which is occasionally used for other events, including the Festival of the Arts Art Show and ArtPrize venue and headquarters.

Kendall will partner with Lansing-based Christman Capital Investment Group to renovate the building into classrooms, gallery and office space over the next two years. Work is expected to begin this summer and continue until 2011.

The recommendation by the EDC was to dedicate $12.5 million in tax-exempt bonds that the city is allowed to issue toward the project. Kent County is considering a similar plan that would provide an additional $12.5 million in bonds toward the project.

The government-backed bonds were made available to the city and county as part of the federal government's economic stimulus efforts. Such bonds are usually limited to industrial projects, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act broadened their potential uses in an effort to spur additional development. The Grand Rapids City Commission will need to approve the bond allocation. The state Legislature already has approved $10.6 million in tax credits to move the project forward. Such tax credits are typically resold, with the proceeds applied toward a project.