Muskegon Factory Gets New Life

February 13, 2004
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MUSKEGON — An aging office furniture factory that lies a short stroll from Heritage Landing on Muskegon Lake soon will begin a slow transition to the latest setting for urban living.

In renovations that will take years, the first of many phases to transform the 900,000-square-foot Shaw-Walker complex into a residential, retail and office center will begin this spring.

The initial phase includes only that portion of the factory that fronts Hudson Street and Washington Avenue, or about 10 percent of the 6.9-acre complex.

The factory’s owner, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based ANM Real Estate and Investment, will initially convert that portion of the structure into loft apartments and condominiums on the upper four floors, and retail and office space on the lower level.

The factory’s original entrance lies on Western Avenue, less than a block from the Hartshorn Marina on Muskegon Lake and the neighboring YFCA, and two blocks from Heritage Landing.

The firm’s redevelopment plan fits with the trend and popularity of renovating older buildings in urban areas for residential and commercial uses, said Frank Bednarek, vice president of development for Hooker-DeJong Architects & Engineers.

Hooker-DeJong is the Muskegon firm working for ANM Real Estate and Investment on the project.

The project sits within a recently designated Renaissance Zone that offers numerous tax incentives.

It also meets the vision outlined in the city of Muskegon master plan that calls for reuse of old industrial buildings for residential uses and the transformation of the nearby downtown area into an arts, entertainment, residential and commercial district.

The Shaw-Walker complex, located across Western Avenue from Muskegon Lake and about a mile from the heart of a downtown that’s undergoing revitalization, “offers a really good opportunity to offer something really different in the Muskegon marketplace,” Bednarek said.

“There’s really quite a lot to be offered there,” he said.

The project is the largest and the latest redevelopment involving a former industrial building near downtown Muskegon.

The Amazon Building and Hartshorn Centre, each located on Western Avenue, on either side of Shoreline Drive, have both been given new life in recent years through major renovations.

The four-story Hartshorn Centre along Muskegon Lake is now an office and retail center, and the Amazon Building was restored as a commercial/apartment complex.

Hooker-DeJong served as the architect and engineering firm on the Amazon Building renovation.

The success of that renovation helped to drive the owners of the Shaw-Walker complex to proceed with their project, Bednarek said.

ANM Real Estate and Investment is presently in the process of selecting a commercial real estate firm to handle leasing, marketing and management of the building, he said.

Bednarek anticipates the first phase to take about a year to complete once work gets underway this spring.

While ANM Real Estate and Investment’s intention is to ultimately renovate the entire complex for residential and commercial uses, future phases will depend on market response and demand, he said.

“It’s all market-driven,” Bednarek said. “They’re very confident the market is here and that’s what they’re investing here.”

Among the tools the owner has to drive interest in the complex are the tax incentives available under the Renaissance Zone, which makes the owner and tenants eligible for breaks in state and local taxes until 2014.    

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