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Ownership of 17 Pearl Now Official

Posted September 15, 2010 in Public

On September 13, Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University, the City of Grand Rapids and the Christman Company officially kicked-off the extensive renovation of 17 Pearl Avenue, commonly known as the Old Federal Building.

"We will restore this landmark building to its finest hour," said Ferris State University President David L. Eisler. "When the project is complete, Kendall will occupy three contiguous city blocks dedicated to a community of student artists, designers and creative thinkers living and learning in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids."

"This new facility will enhance Kendall's ability to prepare graduates with the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century workplace – original thinking, creative problem solving and effective leadership," said Oliver Evans, president of Kendall College of Art and Design. "It will also strengthen West Michigan's position on the cutting edge of innovative and relevant design."

As new space for Kendall, the building will again play a central role in the growth and vitality of Grand Rapids. The restoration project will:

  • Permanently secure a historic building of state and national significance.
  • Enable Kendall to accommodate its growing student enrollment, which has tripled in the past 10 years.
  • Strengthen the regionâ??s ability to grow the number of college graduates, a key indicator of success in the global knowledge economy.
  • Accelerate the revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids and, more specifically, the Division Avenue corridor, which continues to emerge as a hub for creativity, innovation and higher education in West Michigan.
  • Establish an estimated 200 construction jobs, as well as additional direct and spin-off jobs in the City of Grand Rapids.


"This is a remarkable and timely project for the City of Grand Rapids," said Mayor George Heartwell. "Through an innovative partnership of diverse interests, we will transform a building that had become a liability into an exceptional asset that contributes directly to the strength of our region's economy, culture and system of higher education. Working together, we have created a new life for this outstanding building."

The total cost of the project is approximately $28.5 million, which includes furniture and equipment. The deal, several years in the making, is made possible through a unique public-private partnership led by Ferris, Kendall, the City of Grand Rapids and the Christman Company.

Renovation work will begin as soon as the building finishes hosting a variety of ArtPrize exhibits. The top two floors will need extensive repairs; they've decayed in the decades they've sat empty. The work is set to finish in the spring of 2012.