Westwood Forms Own Construction Division

May 30, 2002
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MUSKEGON — A new construction management arm will enable a Muskegon commercial real estate firm to better take care of its own properties.

Westwood Construction Co. will focus on new construction projects and site upgrades undertaken at parent Westwood Group’s retail properties in Michigan. Bidding on projects planned by other developers isn’t part of the plan for now, Westwood Group Chairman and CEO Mike Bowen said.

“We’re not going to do any third-party work,” Bowen said. “At least for the foreseeable future, it will be our own work.”

With Westwood Group presently managing 300,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and planning to develop an additional 600,000 square feet within the next 18 months to two years, the new construction unit should have plenty of work available.

The growth in Westwood Group’s real estate portfolio led to the formation of the Westwood Construction Co., Bowen said.

“We have so much activity going on,” Bowen said. “Trying to go out and bid each job is a nightmare. This is going to make us substantially more efficient.

“It’s a natural extension for us,” he said.

One of the first projects for the construction arm is the Westwood Group’s portion of the planned Lakes Crossing shopping center on Harvey Street, across the road from where the new Lakes Mall is being built.

Lakes Crossing is the largest development Westwood Group has ever undertaken. The $40 million shopping center will feature 310,000 square feet of retail space, with two anchor stores, an 80-room Fairfield Inn hotel, and four to six lots around the perimeter of the 41-acre site. Bowen expects work on the hotel and perimeter retail sites to begin this fall, with construction on the bulk of the shopping center starting next spring. Completion is targeted for the fall of 2002.

Westwood Group, which has only recently begun marketing the retail sites, last month acquired an adjacent 19 acres of land to the south of its original 22-acre parcel. The acquisition of the additional acreage last month from Horizon Properties Inc. enabled Westwood Group to build much more flexibility into the shopping center’s layout and design.

“We’re able to turn it into a really great development,” Bowen said.

Bowen has sought for a number of years to develop the site. Construction of the Lakes Mall across the street makes the Westwood site ideal for spin-off retail development that’s occurring within the area surrounding the new mall, Bowen said.

“You can go to any regional mall site and you can go, ‘Boy, that was the property to have.’”

Well, Bowen said that for once, he won’t be envious.

“This is the property to have,” he said.

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