Part of MiEN’s new plan for the old Baker Furniture building is OK


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A furniture company’s plan to move its headquarters to the old Baker Furniture building in Grand Rapids has overcome another hurdle.

To his last meeting, the Grand Rapids Planning Commission unanimously approved MiEN’s request to add another 7,000 square foot floor on part of the historic building at 1661 Monroe Ave. NW, along the Grand River.

“(I am) very happy to be working on this project. (It’s a) pretty important part of Grand Rapids and the future of the city, ”said Ben Franceschi of Mathison | Mathison Architects.

MiEN Company manufactures furniture for educational institutions. The company is currently based in Walker but ships its products worldwide, according to Franceschi.

The old Baker Furniture building has a long history in the furniture industry. He began as the Grand Rapids Chair Co. in 1872, later becoming a subsidiary of Sligh-Lowry Furniture Co. then Baker Furniture.

(A 1918 photo provided by the History and Special Collections Archives of the Grand Rapids Public Library shows the Grand Rapids Chair Company factory at 1661 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.)

Remco Realty, who is registered with MiEN Company President and CEO Remco Bergsma, purchased the property in August for $ 6.3 million, city ​​property records show. The new owner plans to use the old warehouse and part of the building that juts out to the north for light assembly, shipping and office space.

Plans call for the demolition of the loading docks on the south side of the building and the addition of residential access to the riverside. The company plans to move its shipping operations to the northeast corner of the building, near Ann Street.

“You made my day,” neighbor Ty Lowing told Franceschi, after sharing his frustrations with the semi-trucks keeping him awake as they drove past his Travis Street home from the facility.

(A conceptual rendering provided by MiEN Company shows the business plan for the former Baker Furniture building, located at 1661 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.)

Lowing also expressed concerns about the addition of the building blocking sunlight to his home. Franceschi proposed a potential solar impact study, but the planning commission did not deem it necessary.

“I think the flip side I’m comfortable with that, so I’m not too worried about it. But as a courtesy you want to study this with the neighbor, I would allow it, ”Planning Commission Chairman Kyle Van Strien said.

The MiEN company plans to start construction in November, with the goal of moving its team to the updated space in March 2023.

Soon after, the furniture maker plans to work with a developer to add around 200 homes and retail space, “and of course there are plenty of recreational opportunities here on the site,” Franceschi said. .

“They are very excited to be in the city and bring the vitality of this business to the city to the economy. It’s very important to them, ”said Franceschi.

He said representatives from MiEN were planning to attend the Creston Neighborhood Association on Wednesday. committee meeting on land use.

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