Grand Rapids to say adieu to awning over historic Steketee building

Grand Rapids

A courtesy rendering shows how 86 Monroe Center NW is expected to look after the awning removal.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Downtown Grand Rapids will soon say goodbye to a century-old piece of architecture.

Rockford Construction plans to remove the awning from its building located at 86 Monroe Center NW, between Ottawa and Ionia avenues.

The overhang is original to the eight-story building, which was constructed around 1916 to house Paul Steketee & Sons department store. Grand Rapids Public Library employees digging through the library’s archives found an architectural sketch published in December 1915 that shows the same awning on the building.

(Left: A sketch published in the Grand Rapids Press on Dec. 22, 1915 shows the plans for the new Steketee building, complete with an awning. Right: A photo shows the newly built Steketee Building circa 1916. Images courtesy: Grand Rapids Public Library Archives)

Jeff Edwards with Rockford Construction told the Downtown Development Authority that removing the canopy will allow in more natural light and complement the existing fascades in the area. The business believes it’ll also help alleviate drainage backups in the building.

Wednesday, the DDA approved awarding Rockford Construction an enhanancement grant for half of the project costs, or up to $56,767.50. In a memo to the DDA, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. President and CEO Tim Kelly said the work will “contribute to the continued vitality of Monroe Center and the community’s aim to establish it as a destination corridor.”

Work to remove the awning is expected to start next month and wrap up by December.

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