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Visser Brother’s Waters Building Adaptive Reuse Project Profiled by Retrofit Magazine

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Visser Brother’s Waters Building Adaptive Reuse Project Profiled by Retrofit Magazine

April 15th, 2020 by Visser Brothers Admin

Visser Brothers Construction is pleased to share that one of our projects in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been recognized by Retrofit Magazine, an industry trade publication. Our part in the Waters Building was an extensive adaptive reuse project, transforming the historic furniture exhibition building into spaces for many different applications.

Check out some excerpts of the article written by Kendra Achenbach for Retrofit Magazine below, see photos of the Waters Building apartments in our Project Center, or visit to read the full article.

Former Exhibition Building in the Furniture City Gains New Life as Offices, Apartments and Hotel Space

The Waters Center, formerly known as the Waters Building, represents an innovative adaptive reuse of an iconic landmark that occupies an entire city block in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. Ghafari Associates LLC’s locally based team was tasked with designing its $35 million makeover, which transformed the 120-year-old building—originally conceived as a large-scale furniture exhibition space—into a mixed-use facility. The center now features a 111-room extended stay hotel, 44 market-rate apartments, an office tower, retail space, a shared 2-story lobby and new interior 4-story atrium. This project infuses new life into this quintessential Grand Rapids structure, repurposing its interior to provide modern, diverse functionality without diminishing the historic character of its exterior.

In total, the project involved the extensive transformation of 300,000 square feet of space. The renovated north tower houses office space and apartments that feature exposed brick and existing hardwood floors (many of which had been covered by new flooring materials over the years). The walls and floors were maintained to uphold some of the original character of the historic building. The loft-style apartment units include high-end features, such as quartz surfaces and walnut cabinetry, that contrast nicely with the original building structure.

Although the building was in good structural condition, the adaptive reuse project presented a number of challenges related to the age and condition of the existing building. Because few improvements had been made to the building in the previous 15 years, the existing tenants were left scattered throughout, making office leasing inefficient. The sequence of the project presented another challenge. Half the existing tenants were to remain, so it was necessary to relocate them to new spaces before construction could begin on the new hotel space.

Conveniently, one of the owners of the project—Visser Brothers—also was the contractor, allowing the design and construction document processes to be completed in very close collaboration with the construction team. The production schedule was planned to allow the owner to budget and construct the spaces with minimal disruption to the tenants. The project met the owners’ schedule and completed their goal of providing upgraded leasable spaces while allowing them to maintain their existing tenants.