Hilton Hotel & apartments planned for Waters Building

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- One of the most recognizable structures in downtown Grand Rapids will soon undergo some major renovations.

There are plans to build a Hilton Homewood Suites Hotel and an apartment complex inside the Waters Building.

The Waters Building was built in 1898. In recent years, it has been a mixed-used facility. The Hilton Hotel will be the third incarnation of the landmark structure.

The new goal is to put more heads in beds while adding to the growth in down town Grand Rapids.

"We have an opportunity to take advantage of a building that is half empty," said Bill Mast, president of Visser Brothers Inc., who co-owns the building along with Edmark Development Co. "We have an opportunity to fill the space with something that adds new uses to the building without losing any of the current office and retail tenants that exist there."

The 107-room Hilton Hotel will be built on the second through sixth floors on the building's south wing.

"there's room enough on the first floor, and on the second, third and fourth of the north half to house all the office tenants that are currently in the building," added Mast.

The 42-unit apartment complex are slated to be built on the top two floors.

The addition of more hotel space downtown is welcome news to "Experience Grand Rapids"l, which is the city's convention and visitor's bureau.

"Grand Rapids is still growing as a destination as it relates to our brand name," said Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids. "82% of my funding comes as a direct result of our hotels providing a portion of their room revenue to us and we turn that back into the marketing of the destination, and we'll continue to build hotel occupancy."

Small added when the developers build it, Experience Grand Rapids' job is to fill it.

"The work we've been doing over the past several years to build [hotel] occupancy in this community has gotten the attention of developers from around the country," said Small. "Five years ago, hotel occupancy in Grand Rapids was at 48%; it now stands at 64%."


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