GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The glass tower at the Amway Grand Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids will undergo a transformation.

The hotel on Tuesday announced a $40 million renovation project of the glass exterior of the building. The project is scheduled to start in January 2019.
The renovation will feature new tinted glass that will be slightly reflective. Amway said the most visible change will be the tower’s color, which will appear lighter from street level and more transparent for guests indoors.

“I think the big differences are going to be the views from inside the rooms,” Amway Corp. President Rick Winn told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

Winn said the new windows will give floor-to-ceiling views overlooking the city.

The top three floors of the tower will have a new slight variation in glass panel size and lighting. Amway says the new design element will highlight the signature angled roof profile of the structure.
The hotel will remain open throughout construction and will largely operate as normal.

The plans recall memories of when the tower opened to much excitement 35 years ago. Former President Gerald R. Ford was among the dignitaries who spoke and balloons were released into the air.

History marked it as the beginning of downtown Grand Rapids’ transformation.

“It was obviously the original spark,” Winn said.

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Baker said the move was a risk.

“In a downtown at that time that wasn’t vibrant,” he said. “It was known as ‘Bland Rapids.'”

Baker said the reinvestment sends a positive message to those looking to visit and invest in Grand Rapids.

“We are competing with other major markets to attract conventions to our region, so having a high quality hotel product is important to be successful,” he said.