Full Speed Ahead For Lakefront

June 5, 2002
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MUSEKGON — The partners behind a major initiative to develop a stretch of Muskegon’s waterfront hope to begin marketing parcels to developers this summer, even as the property’s current owner works out details of a plan to clean up contamination on the site.

Lakefront Development LLC, consisting of partners in the law firm of Parmenter O’Toole, envisions the development of condominiums, retail and professional office buildings, and a marina on the 34-acre site along Muskegon Lake, creating what’s been called a “new downtown” for Muskegon.

The partnership is reviewing bids from commercial real estate firms and hopes to retain an agent within 30 to 60 days and begin offering parcels soon after, said Chris Kelly, an attorney with Parmenter O’Toole. The former industrial site, once the home of a Teledyne Continental plant, consists of 17 individual parcels ranging from 0.8 to 4 acres in size.

Kelly hopes the first phase construction on the site, including a new office building for Parmenter O’Toole, can begin next year, once the city of Muskegon completes the planned extension of Shoreline Drive. The development would take shape over a three- to six-year period, he said.

“We’re pretty much ready to sell,” Kelly said. “We’re going full speed ahead.”

The 16 parcels going on the market are collectively valued at more than $9.5 million. The combined cost of actual developments is estimated at $70 million to $80 million.

The project is one of a series of developments being undertaken or planned along Muskegon’s lakefront. They include Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute being built down the street from the Lakefront Development site, as well as the city’s new Heritage Landing park.

The Lakefront Development project will surely draw additional investment into the waterfront and downtown areas, said Cathy Brubaker-Clarke, the city’s director of community and economic development.

“It’s creating a new part of downtown,” she said.

Lakefront Development signed a purchase option for the site with Teledyne Continental in December 1999. The partnership has so far secured zoning approval for the development and had design work completed, all while Teledyne works with state environmental regulators on a remedial plan to clean up soil contamination on the site.

The partnership can proceed with the marketing of individual parcels as Teledyne works to get its remedial plan approved by the state Department of Environmental Quality, Kelly said. Teledyne would remain responsible for cleaning up the site.

Based on data gathered to date, Kelly does not expect the environmental issues to thwart any plans.

“We think it’s manageable,” he said. “We’ll be able to give any buyer a clean bill of health” on any parcel.

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