Grand Rapids, Mich. — Double O, Inc. started on the second phase of its $1.5 million restoration of the former Michigan Bell Telephone Service Center at 1415 Division Ave. S.
President Mike Otis bought the neglected 40,000-square-foot structure (built in 1929) in 2018. He chose the site because it stood in the most economically challenged ZIP code in Grand Rapids (49507). With its renovation, Double O offers job opportunities and helps beautify a neighborhood that experienced periods of up to 50% unemployment prior to COVID-19.
“When we rehabilitate our property, those around us tend to improve their properties so that neighborhood valuations rise and the quality of life improves,” Otis says. “It enables both Double O and the community to share in the prosperity.”
The first phase included refreshing the shop and warehouse, replacing light fixtures with high-efficiency LEDs, gutting and replacing most of the interior offices and upgrading the bathroom fixtures. The second phase will focus on the exterior, including restoring the facade to its historical greatness with particular attention paid to windows and doors. The front fencing will also be removed to make the facility feel more welcoming.
It is the second such project for Double O, which today ranks among Michigan’s largest commercial glazing, window and door contractors.
In 2014, Otis refurbished a 33,000-square-foot, 1800s run-down warehouse at Madison Avenue and Cottage Grove SE, also located in the 49507 ZIP code. Double O occupied 17,000 square feet of the space and leased the rest to two local community-building nonprofit programs — YouthBuild Grand Rapids, a development program of Bethany Christian Services, and Building Bridges Professional Services.
After Otis moved Double O into its current building, the nonprofits began to fully occupy his former headquarters, which is now known as the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation.