Yesterday Alticor (formerly Amway) announced plans for a new hotel that will be built across the street from the Amway Grand Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids. The hotel will feature a 24-story glass atrium, one of the largest ballrooms in the state, and a helicopter landing pad. The hotel project was initiated by Amway founders Richard DeVos and the late Jay VanAndel. In a press release issued by Alticor, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos described how proud he was of the new hotel, stating that “Jay and I often talked about this day, when we would proudly showcase another example of our love for the city we grew up in.”
Predictably, most of the local media provided glowing reports of the announcement, speaking in awe of the “football” shape and how the hotel will “support area tourism” and generally echoing the words in Alticor’s press release. None of the local media outlets examined the real motives behind the construction, one of which is most certainly profit, instead choosing to focus on the allegedly benevolent and selfless aspects of DeVos and VanAndel’s building ventures while largely ignoring the fact that many of these building projects have been funded, in part, by a considerable amount of public money. The new hotel is no different, with Alticor receiving $5.9 million in Single Business Tax credits for the $60 million construction project. Also absent was any discussion of the recent trend in development in downtown that promotes up-scale entertainment and living options designed for wealthy people, options that are only accessible to a small minority of downtown residents.