GH Extends GrandWater Deadline

April 30, 2004
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GRAND HAVEN — Redevelopment of a brownfield site in the city’s north end will take time to find the right developer with the right plan and the capital needed to pull off the project, the development’s manager says.

The city panel overseeing the GrandWater redevelopment decided last month to extend a deadline for accepting proposals in order to generate interest from additional developers and to refine those proposals already submitted.

The four proposals received so far are “less than what we thought we were going to get,” said Hank Vander Werp, president of Clinton Realty in Grandville whom the city of Grand Haven hired to manage the project.

Since the city’s Economic Development Committee extended the deadline for proposals to May 15, two other developers have indicated they are “very serious” about the 23-acre site. The site is on the south side of the Grand River west of U.S. 31 at the city’s northern gateway.

While city leaders by now were hoping to have a developer signed to transform the former run-down industrial district into a residential and commercial neighborhood, the scope of the project and site’s brownfield status add complexities that take time to work through, Vander Werp said. He estimates the potential costs of developing the site at $25 million to $30 million.

“This is a major project and the best results take time,” Vander Werp told Grand Haven City Council members recently. “The ultimate goal is to have a quality project. We’re on track and we feel we will be moving successfully down that path.”

The city’s Economic Development Committee isn’t satisfied with the quality or content of the proposals received so far, he said. In large-scale projects such as GrandWater, he said, the tendency initially is to attract “tire kickers” who are “just kind of testing the market and the resolve of the seller.”

The deadline extension provides the committee time to work with the developers behind the four proposals already submitted to refine their ideas and to entertain new proposals, Vander Werp said. Despite some disappointment with what’s been proposed so far, he believes they are workable.

“We have some offers that can be worked into something interesting,” Vander Werp said.

Of the four proposals submitted so far, only one offered to buy and redevelop the entire site.

That proposal, from a Chicago group, envisions a mixed-use development with residential, hospitality and commercial ventures. The other three proposals are for individual parcels on the site, which consists of four separate parcels, and offer uses that include high-rise condominiums, a hotel and townhouses.

The city wants to see the site redeveloped into a mixture of commercial, retail and residential uses — townhouses, professional offices and specialty retail shops, for instance — and has financial incentives available to lure a developer. That includes tax-increment financing to finance infrastructure costs and a brownfield credit on the state’s Single Business Tax of up to $1 million for each of the four parcels.

The latest deadline extension is the second one for submitting proposals, which originally were due Jan. 31. That was extended to March 31 and now to May 15.

“What we want is a quality product in the end, something as a community we can be proud of,” Mayor Roger Bergman said. “It is going to require a lot of patience on our part.”     

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