Engineering, Planning Firm Opens

August 6, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — A veteran project manager and a professional engineer recently decided to combine their talents and go out on their own.

Todd Olin and Keisha Westbrook, who both earned their stripes at Williams and Works Inc., opened the doors last week to Land Development Solutions. From their office on the ninth floor of the Standard Federal Building, Olin said the new firm would provide complete site engineering and land-planning services for commercial and residential projects.

“If a potential developer came to us, our land-planning section would utilize the site most efficiently, and our engineering would make it work with the grading, the utilities and, eventually, the permits,” said Olin.

A key part of those services is representing clients before the area’s governing boards and planning commissions to get approval for a project, something that Olin has done for much of his professional life.

“What we do depends on the level of involvement that an owner wants us in. But in most cases, we take them right from the beginning conceptual design right through construction,” he said.

“That is really one of the things that we specialize in. We have great relationships set up with many of the jurisdictions.”

Olin and Westbrook decided to start Land Development Solutions because, as the old saying goes, opportunity knocked — and it knocked rather loudly for them.

A client Olin had represented in the past told him that he and Westbrook should form their own business. He had such a strong belief in their ability that he bankrolled their start-up. Their backer wishes to remain anonymous. He is, however, a silent partner in the firm.

“I can’t name him, but he wanted to invest in the company and approached me. So Keisha and I formed this little alliance here and took advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

Land Development Solutions is already working on a trio of pretty big projects.

First, the firm is helping to develop a conceptual design for Luther Village — a senior campus that will offer assisted and independent apartments on 32nd Street.

The second project is the new Celebration Cinema that Jack Loeks Theatres is building just off the South Beltline in Gaines Township. The site plan has been approved, but a few contingencies still have to be addressed. Olin said construction should begin later this year.

Third is a large residential project going up in Sparta. The Grand Valley Land Development Co. is building 161 homes, condos and apartments there in a development called Bedford Falls.

“There are several smaller projects that we’re working on, but those are the larger of the projects that we have right now,” said Olin.

Olin was a project manager with Williams & Works for nine years. Westbrook, a professional engineer, worked there for six years.    

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