Grand Rapids

Planning Staff Report



Department:Historic Preservation CommissionSponsors:

Content A

1201 WEALTHY SE - ADVISORY DISCUSSION - NEW INFILL                           

Content C


The owner is requesting an ADVISORY DISCUSSION for a potential infill project to be located on the dirt lot at the northeast corner of Wealthy and Fuller.  This is a completely new concept and is not to be confused with any previously discussed projects for this site.  The project to be discussed includes a two story structure front along Wealthy with parking located behind. 


This intersection of the district has a historic gas station at both the northwest and southeast corners and a 1920’s era commercial strip of 1 story buildings at the southwest corner. Upon review of historical files the site was originally occupied by a house.  In 1960 Ohio Oil received a building permit to construct a 1 story, 2 bay service station with porcelain tile exterior.  This service station was gone by the late 1970s and the parcel has remained vacant ever since. 


This is an Advisory Discussion only and is not a formal review; no formal decision will be made at this meeting.  Any comments or recommendations made during an advisory discussion are not binding upon either the applicant or the HPC.  Advisory discussion should not be construed as either approval or denial of a project or any portion thereof.



Sec. Int. Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings


Not Recommended:

Removing or radically changing those features of the setting which are important in defining the historic character.


Removing or relocating historic buildings or landscape features, thus destroying their historic relationship within the setting.


Local Guidelines

New Construction


The success of new construction within a historic district relies on understanding the distinctive architectural character of the district. 


Retaining site features that are important to the overall historic character.


Retaining the historic relationship between buildings, landscape features and open spaces.


New construction siting should be reviewed based on existing district setbacks, orientation, spacing and distance between adjacent buildings.


Design new construction so that the overall character of the site, site topography, character defining site features and district vistas and views are retained.


Conform to design guidelines involving site and environment.


Design new buildings to be compatible with the surrounding buildings that contribute to the overall character of the historic district in terms of height, form, size, scale, massing proportions and roof shape.  Giving special attention to proportions of the front façade.


Utility connections shall be placed to minimize visibility from the street.


Design the spacing, placement, scale, orientation, proportion and size of window and door openings in new construction to be compatible with surrounding historic buildings.


Utilize window and doors in new buildings that are compatible in material, subdivision, proportion, pattern and detail with the windows and doors of surrounding historic building that contribute to their character.


Select materials and finishes that are compatible with historic materials and finishes found in surrounding historic buildings that contribute to their historic character.


Design new buildings so that they are compatible but discernable from adjacent historic buildings.


The introduction of compatible but contemporary new construction can add depth and contribute interest to the district if the new design and location reflect an understanding of and compatibility with the character of the district.


Not Recommended:

Introducing any new building that is out of scale or otherwise inappropriate to the settings historic character.


Introducing a new feature that is visually incompatible with the site or that destroys the site patterns and vistas.


Introducing new construction on to a site which is visually incompatible in terms of size, scale, design, materials, color and texture or which destroys relationships on the site.




A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.



The historic character of the property shall be retained and preserved.  The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.



Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historic development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.



Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.



Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.



Distinctive historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced.  Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials.  Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical or pictorial evidence.



New additions, exterior alterations or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize a property.  The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.



New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.



The owner is seeking input on the potential to construct a two story building on the vacant lot with the bulk of the building front Wealthy and parking at the rear/north.  The structure design is in the very early conceptual stage and the owners are seeking input as it relates to massing, placement, design and materials before they determine moving forward with more formal designs.


The parcel in question is fairly flat with only a slight rise as you go east while the grade along Fuller raises considerably as you go north.  That being said it must be noted that the historic district boundaries stop at the north and east lot lines of the subject property and the east and south lot lines of the house at 1210 Wealthy (across the street).  It does not include the properties to the north or the east of the 1201 Wealthy nor properties east and south of the house at 1201 Wealthy SE. 


The immediate commercial structures to this lot are 1 story in nature while the one immediate residential property located in the district (across the street) is two story.  There are 2 story commercial buildings located about a block west of the subject lot.


An aerial map created by staff is included in the packet that denotes the boundaries of the district and the overall height of the buildings located within the view shed.