Aquinas College to Present Emeritus Award to Sam and Janene Cummings

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Aquinas College is presenting the Norbert J. Hruby Emeritus Award to Sam and Janene Cummings at the annual Aquinas Emeritus Evening on Tuesday, May 8, at the Amway Grand Plaza.

The Award, given each year since 1983, is given as a tribute to a person or persons in our community whose leadership, generosity, and spirit of service have been sustained over the course of many years, and whose dedication to the welfare of all citizens serves as a light to guide those who follow.

Sam Cummings and his wife, Janene, are the youngest recipients of the award. Sometimes referred to as the City’s leading champion, Sam Cummings has dedicated the last 27 years of his life to the preservation of Grand Rapids’ history and the revitalization of the community through the built environment. One by one, Cummings has brought back to life some of Grand Rapids’ most historic treasures and long neglected buildings. Today, Sam and his partners, Scott Wierda and Dan DeVos, are working to bring new vision, vibrancy, and vitality to the urban core of Grand Rapids and the greater West Michigan community.

“We are fortunate to have people like Sam and Janene in our community; individuals who are generous with their time and resources, serving as examples to so many,” said Dr. Kevin Quinn, president of Aquinas College. “It’s my pleasure to present this Emeritus Award to the Cummings as a recognition of their service.”

Since forming CWD Real Estate Investment in 2008, Cummings and his partners have assembled more than 3 million square feet of retail and urban office real estate in West Michigan – making CWD one of the largest, locally-owned property management firms in the area. CWD’s investments in the community are focused on providing quality spaces and stability for generations. CWD’s most recent projects include the renovation of five historic downtown buildings: the Michigan Trust Building, Ledyard Building, the CWD Building at 50 Louis NW,the historic Rowe Hotel at Michigan and Monroe and currently in process 50 Monroe and 37 Ottawa. Each has undergone multi-million dollar updates - the first significant renovations in decades - breathing new life into more than 500,000 square feet of downtown office, residential and retail space. CWD also owns and manages the Bucktown development in Grandville, which includes signature retailers such as Cabela’s, Target, Ulta, and Five Guys, as well as Breton Village and Breton Village South in the SE Grand Rapids retail corridor.

Prior to forming CWD, Cummings was founding principal and president of Second Story Properties. The real estate development, investment, and management firm was widely recognized as a pioneer in adaptive re-use in West Michigan. Under his leadership, Second Story developed and renovated more than 24 properties and 850,000 square feet of office, residential, and mixed use assets in the City’s core and near neighborhoods. Previously, Cummings served as partner/president of Macroe Properties.

Cummings possesses a keen understanding of the processes necessary to utilize local, state, and federal financial incentives to maximize value in underperforming assets. He also has significant experience working with local and state governments on successful public-private partnerships. He is the 2011 recipient of the Urban Land Institute/University of Michigan’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Real Estate.

As an industry expert, Cummings often speaks on topics such as: adaptive reuse, historic renovation, real estate investment and development. He has served on the board of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund since 2011 and is currently chair. He volunteers for the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Trustee and Chair of the Accessions Committee) and serves on the Steering Committee (Co-Chair) of the Iron Belle Trail Fund.

Past recipients of the Emeritus Award include Edward John Frey; Minor and Mary Ann Keeler; Richard and Helen DeVos, President Gerald R. Ford; Judge Robert A. Benson; Mayor John Logie; Robert Pew II and Kate Pew Wolters.

The Aquinas Emeritus College, founded in 1973, recently renamed the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Aquinas College, is the second oldest lifelong learning program in the country. The selection of the recipient(s) was and is still today ultimately made by the President of the college.