Grand Valley Board joins Spectrum Health in approving joint parking ramp

A rendering of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, 333 Michigan, and the parking ramp.
A rendering of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, 333 Michigan, and the parking ramp.
Image credit - Courtesy Photo

Grand Valley, Spectrum Health System and the city of Grand Rapids moved a step closer to jointly addressing the parking issues along and around the Medical Mile in downtown Grand Rapids. The university's Board of Trustees joined Spectrum Health in formally approving a parking ramp that will be built on land owned by the institutions on Michigan Street. 

The ramp was approved at the board's February 2 meeting, held at the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. 

The project is a six-level parking deck that will provide 1,220 spaces for Grand Valley students in the health professions and nursing programs, and for Spectrum Health employees. The ramp will replace existing surface parking lots owned by the university or Spectrum Health. It will be east of the existing Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and adjacent to the state-funded health building approved for 333 Michigan and scheduled to open in 2021.

The two institutions worked with the city and the neighborhood organization, Neighbors of Belknap Lookout (NOBL), to preserve space in nearby neighborhoods by agreeing on the deal to join forces and build the ramp on Michigan. 

"One of the university's goals in expanding the health campus has been to work with our neighbors," said Board of Trustees Chair John C. Kennedy. "We are pleased we could devise an efficient plan on Michigan that meets the parking needs of students and employees and eases the burden on people living near this area of tremendous growth. This is a great example of the cooperation West Michigan is known for and the solutions that drive this region forward."

Grand Rapids Second Ward Commissioner Joseph D. Jones agrees that the efforts to work together are reaping benefits for residents. 

"Commissioner Ruth Kelly and I are truly grateful for the hard work that went into getting to this day," said Jones. "Several years ago, the Neighbors of Belknap Lookout, Grand Valley and the city of Grand Rapids signed a Memorandum of Understanding in an effort to reach consensus around development, affordable housing preservation, and being good neighbors. This decision between Grand Valley and Spectrum Health is a direct result of those efforts, and to build a structure that will not infringe upon the neighborhood of Belknap Lookout speaks volumes about the power of public/private partnerships as well as their respect for the residents of the community. We applaud Grand Valley and Spectrum Health and thank them both for their continued leadership in our city."

Richard C. Breon, president & CEO of Spectrum Health, said: "Spectrum Health is committed to working with Grand Valley and the city of Grand Rapids to address common needs in the most cost-effective manner possible, keeping in mind the neighborhood and proximity to our facilities. This is a testament to the importance of community collaboration on behalf of those we serve. Spectrum Health is proud to be a part of the solution."

The design of the 420,000-square-foot facility will be coordinated with the existing Center for Health Sciences building and the proposed health building. It will be designed and constructed to LEED standards, even though at this time, there is no LEED certification category for parking ramps. The choice of building materials and systems will be selected to minimize construction time, and Grand Valley will be the developer of the project. It is being designed keeping an eye toward changes in the way people use cars, for example, the use of car-sharing services.

The ramp will be operated as a condominium, with Grand Valley and Spectrum Health owning their respective units. The day-to-day operation of the completed ramp will be handled by Spectrum Health. Officials at Spectrum Health approved this project last fall.

Grand Valley's trustees approved $39,354,000 for the project. The source of funds will be $21,769,000 from the university's parking revenue bonds and $17,585,000 from Spectrum Health. The architect is Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, and the construction manager is Pioneer Construction. Construction on the ramp is scheduled to begin in May of this year, and it is scheduled to be completed in May of 2021. 

In other board action:

• The board approved the sale of a 1.35-acre parcel of land on the southern border of the Pew Grand Rapids Campus to Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing. The company plans to build a pharmaceutical fill finish production facility on the property. The purchase price will be $1.4 million.

• The board approved a new bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders. The new degree will prepare students with specific coursework in speech science, speech pathology, and audiology needed to qualify for admissions into either a master's in speech-language pathology or a doctor in audiology program. Entry-level practice in the field of speech-language pathology requires a master's degree, whereas audiology requires a doctorate.

• The board approved funding for a $4.95 million, two-story parking deck at 333 Michigan Street in Grand Rapids. The parking deck will have 66 parking spaces and will be located underneath a new, state-funded health building due to open in spring 2021. The project will replace an existing surface parking lot on which the new health building is being constructed.

• Students will see a modest increase in room and board rates beginning with the fall 2018 semester; the board voted to increase the rate by 1.1 percent. The average cost for living on campus per semester will increase by $20.

• The board approved a new master’s degree program, the first graduate degree housed in Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. The professional master of arts degree in social innovation will prepare graduate students to address complex social problems facing organizations and communities. They will be prepared to be change agents in diverse fields like education, health and human services, family development and community management. 

• The board approved the reauthorization of two charter schools in Detroit; the authorization of a charter school in Detroit and another in Hillsdale; approved a grade addition at a school in Warren, and approved new charter contract terms and conditions and appointment or reappointment of charter school board members to GVSU authorized public school academy boards.


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