Consultant To Review City Place

January 13, 2003
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GRAND HAVEN — An Ann Arbor land-use consultant will set the framework for city leaders in Grand Haven to decide whether to pursue a major development proposed for downtown.

The Johnson Hill Land Ethics Studio will develop guidelines that establish a process to review the proposed  $20 million to $25 million Grand Haven City Place project, as well as objective and subjective criteria for actually evaluating the development should the city opt to work with developers and pursue it.

“They’ll give us some advice on the types of things to look at,” interim City Manager Robert Huff said.

The city will pay The Johnson Hill Land Ethics Studio up to $4,000 to help set the groundwork for reviewing City Place and will likely retain outside help in conducting an evaluation of the project when, and if, developers submit a formal plan for consideration, Huff said.

As envisioned, City Place would re-create a two-block area of Grand Haven’s downtown central business district with a hotel and conference center, a pedestrian mall with boutique retail stores, professional office space and upper-floor condominiums.

Developers Steve Loftis, Ross Pope and Ira Green say the support and cooperation from city leaders is essential in order for City Place to come to fruition. To accommodate the project, the developers are asking the city to vacate a one-block portion of First Street, allow the use of two existing public parking lots that they promise to replace with underground parking, and undertake a downtown streetscape project.

The first thing for the Grand Haven City Council to decide following the consultant’s report later this month is whether to form a partnership with the developers and pursue the project, Huff said.

“The first thing is to find out if this is a viable concept,” he said. “If the answer is ‘no,’ then that’s it.”           

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