Grand Valley State buys property, plans for engineering expansion and parking

By Mary Eilleen Lyon

Grand Valley State University


Grand Valley State University’s Board of Trustees approved the purchase of the Ferris Coffee and Nut facility in downtown Grand Rapids, with plans to expand its engineering programs. The trustees held a special board meeting on the university’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus earlier this month, and approved several real estate deals, including one to provide much-needed parking space for commuters.


The purchase of the Ferris facility, at 227 Winter Ave., for $6.5 million allows the university to begin planning what will be the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing’s Design and Innovation Center. It allows the university to avoid the delays and expense of constructing a new facility or taking a short-term approach by expanding existing facilities it will certainly outgrow.


“Enrollment growth in engineering has been explosive, more than doubling in the last 10 years,” Dean Paul Plotkowski said. “This facility is move-in ready and perfectly located near our downtown campus, on a bus line and near where our students live. We’re excited to plan and develop spaces where students from multiple disciplines will work together and develop projects for our industry partners. This is a game changer for us in terms of opening up potential to be innovative while providing an exceptional talent pipeline to employers.”


Ferris Coffee and Nut is remodeling another facility and will move its operations; Grand Valley is planning on moving into the 63,385-square-foot facility in summer 2018. The retail coffee shop that currently operates is expected to remain open to the public.


411 Standale Plaza Dr., N.W.

Trustees also approved acquiring 4.8 acres in the city of Walker for $1.6 million. The deal puts together three parcels at Lake Michigan Drive and Kinney Avenue. The university is purchasing two of the parcels — 411 Standale Plaza Dr., N.W. and 449 Kinney Ave., N.W. The owner of the 2.5 acre parcel at 475 Kinney Ave. is donating that portion to the university.


This deal will provide more than 400 parking spaces right along the current bus line and the proposed Laker Line (Bus Rapids Transit). The Laker Line will travel between Grand Valley’s Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses and through downtown to the university’s health campus. The 20,000 square feet of retail space will remain operational and part of the city of Walker’s developing business district.


The trustees also approved the sale of a condominium near the Allendale Campus that the university purchased in 1987. Over the years, it has been used to house visiting faculty and international visitors, and host meetings and small retreats. The university no longer needs the condominium because a hotel has been built in the area and the university’s Alumni House was built and includes overnight accommodations.