Ground-Breaking On Edison Landing

August 27, 2004
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MUSKEGON — The law firm backing Muskegon's heralded Edison Landing development is about to begin construction on its own office building, with an adjoining commercial and residential park planned along MuskegonLake

Parmenter O'Toole expects to break ground by the end of September on a three-level, 24,800-square-foot facility facing the waterfront.

Occupancy is targeted for October of 2005.

The groundbreaking comes some seven years after the law firm began looking for a site for a new law office, and five years after signing a purchase agreement for the property.

"Everything's full green light and full speed ahead," said Chris Kelly, a partner at Parmenter O'Toole who has managed the development since its inception.

Clearing the way for the project to finally proceed was the recent opening of a new extension to

Shoreline Drive
. The extension proceeds past a 34-acre parcel of waterfront property formerly occupied by a factory operated by Continental Motors Corp., later the General Products Division of Continental Teledyne Corp.

The site is on the north edge of downtown Muskegon

Parmenter O'Toole's new building, designed by Oppenhuizen Architects of Grand Haven, will house the law firm's 25 attorneys and its support personnel. The project will become the first private-sector development within property now known as Edison Landing.

GrandValleyStateUniversity opened its $8 million Michigan Alternative and RenewableEnergyCenter last spring, the first project within Edison Landing.

Edison Landing is a broader development borne of Parmenter O'Toole's original desire for a new offices downtown.

A state-designated SmartZone, Edison Landing is seen as a key component in the revitalization of Muskegon's central business district in tandem with the creation of a new local economic sector: research into and commercialization of alternative energy technologies.

The project also will begin making better use of the city's waterfront. Edison Landing will include a 1,500-foot public boardwalk along MuskegonLake

Parmenter O'Toole's partners are undertaking the project as Lakefront Development LLC.

Much of the focus thus far for Edison Landing has been planning out the development, addressing contamination issues, marketing parcels and recruiting developers.

"Our main mission now is to try and re-create the positive attention and the positive buzz that this could mean for Muskegon," said Steve Wilson, a commercial real estate agent with Commerce Realty's Grand Haven office who represents Lakefront Development LLC.

"That waterfront really could be Muskegon's jewel."

The GVSU and Parmenter O'Toole facilities are the only definitive projects to date for Edison Landing, although Lakefront Development does have signed purchase agreements for additional parcels with developers from East Lansing and MuskegonCounty who are planning commercial/residential projects.

Gillespie Development LLC of East Lansing is planning to develop two three-story buildings with 42 luxury loft apartments on the upper floors and "boutique style" retail shops and professional office space on the first floors in a $7 million to $8 million project.

Developer Gerald Seyferth is eying four six-floor condominium buildings with a combined 72 units.

The recent opening of

Shoreline Drive
has triggered increased interest and inquiries about Edison Landing, Kelly said.

"It's a night and day difference," said Kelly, who anticipates further interest in the development once Parmenter O'Toole's office building begins rising.

"Construction breeds interest and interest leads to sales," he said.

The Parmenter O'Toole project is one in a long series of developments that has changed Muskegon's downtown waterfront from a grimy factory-foundry environment to something more like an urban park.

While the Edison Landing site once was occupied by a Continental Motors assembly operation, it was neighbored to the south by Lakey Foundry. The foundry once spewed fly ash and sulfurous gases onto the city's shopping district.

That property now is landscaped and contoured, and its waterfront is the setting for a modernistic corporate headquarters building, a restaurant and marina, and a hotel.    

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