GH Waiting On Developers

February 13, 2004
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GRAND HAVEN — High interest from prospective developers has led to a two-month extension of a deadline to submit proposals for redeveloping a waterfront parcel on Grand Haven’s north end.

The strong interest in the city of Grand Haven’s GrandWater development should result in developers becoming more competitive with their proposals for the 23-acre site, located along heavily traveled U.S. 31 and the south channel of the Grand River.

“We’re optimistic we’ll get some very fine, quality proposals,” said Jerry Felix, director of planning and development for Clinton Realty, a Grand Rapids commercial real estate firm managing the project for the city.

“Hopefully, the city will be much better off from a development standpoint and a financial standpoint,” Felix said. “It’s a parcel that’s highly in demand.”

Proposals for GrandWater were initially due to the city by Jan. 31.

The “strong interest” shown so far from some 30 developers prompted the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority last month to push back the deadline to March 31.

While the deadline extension may delay the start of construction, it assures that developers with a serious interest have the time they need to draft and submit a proposal, Felix said.

“In the interest of the project, it’s better to add a couple months, rather than be shortsighted,” he said.

The city envisions transforming the former industrial area into a new commercial and residential neighborhood anchoring the northern entrance to town.

To lure developers, the city has secured state grants to acquire parcels over the years and extend a boardwalk along the Grand River. It also created a tax-increment financing district to pay for installing infrastructure and cleaning contaminated soil.

Interest in the project comes from developers in West Michigan, the Midwest, and as far away as Florida and the East Coast, Felix said.

He anticipates the redevelopment will require an investment upwards of $30 million.

The city will evaluate proposals based on how well they meet with the key criteria of creating jobs and tax base, and not merely on who offers the most money for the site.

The city wants to see the site redeveloped into a mixture of commercial, retail and residential uses — townhomes, senior citizen housing, professional offices and specialty retail shops, for instance.

Also key to a proposal’s chances is its esthetic appeal and “timeliness,” as well as the ability of a developer to break ground on the project quickly.

“We’re looking for the best match possible” with the city’s goals, Felix said.

The city will consider development proposals that use the entire site in one project or develop it piecemeal by working with multiple developers.

The latter option includes the possibility of a consortium of developers teaming up for a proposal, with each doing a different use based on their expertise, Felix said.

“Nothing would surprise me anymore. Anything is possible,” Felix said. “We expect to see some extremely creative proposals for this site.”    

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