SmartZone Development Plans Coming Together

April 12, 2002
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MUSKEGON — Nearly four years after the idea first arose, redevelopment of the former Teledyne Continental property along Muskegon Lake could finally begin this summer with plans for the project progressing on several fronts.

Separate approvals are expected in the coming months on plans for the extension of Shoreline Drive past the 34-acre site, as well as the containment of contamination on the former industrial property.

If all goes well, construction of the Shoreline Drive extension could begin by no later than June, with work on turning the property into a high-tech business park commencing later this summer.

“This will be the busy year. This is the year you’re going to see a lot of activity down there,” said Chris Kelly, a partner in the Muskegon law firm Parmenter-O’Toole, whose partners are undertaking the development.

Working under the corporate structure of Lakefront Development LLC, the partners in the law firm envision turning the Teledyne property, located adjacent to downtown, into a mixed-use development consisting of condominiums, retail and professional office buildings, and a marina. Lakefront Development plans to sell parcels to developers.

The project stems from a 1998 effort by Parmenter-O’Toole to secure land to build a new office building for itself, and evolved into a public-private initiative that’s seen as a vital component to Muskegon’s continued revitalization. It received a SmartZone designation last April from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., a status that enables the city of Muskegon to provide tax-increment financing and makes developers eligible for state financial assistance, both of which are designed to lure and support high-tech business development. The city also has established the site as a tax-free Renaissance Zone.

Lakefront Development will build the first office building within the business park to house Parmenter-O’Toole’s law offices, and Grand Valley State University plans to open a $6 million technical skills, research and development, and business incubator center. Muskegon-based Hines Corp. also has committed to developing a parcel within the site, which consists of 16 individual parcels ranging from 0.8 acres to 4 acres in size.

But all of the work hinges on getting Shoreline Drive extended, a project that was supposed to occur last fall but was pushed back to this year because of delays in finalizing engineering plans by an outside firm.

Cathy Brubaker Clarke, the city of Muskegon’s director of community and economic development, hopes to have the engineering plans in hand soon and get them approved by the Michigan Department of Transportation so the road work can begin in April or May, or June at the latest.

In the meantime, the city recently began demolishing several buildings to make way for Shoreline Drive’s extension, Brubaker Clarke said.

Once the road is complete, Lakefront Development and others can begin construction, Kelly said.

“Once they punch that road through there, that’s going to open up everything,” he said.

Market interest in individual parcels remains high, Kelly said, although Lakefront Development has yet to execute a purchase agreement for the property with Teledyne. That will come once Teledyne secures approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality of a remedial action plan to address soil contamination at the site.

Kelly expects that approval to come this spring, clearing the way for Lakefront Development to close on the land and in turn secure and execute sales agreements with developers.

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