GH Nears Its Gateway Decision

February 11, 2005
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GRAND HAVEN — Plans for the long-anticipated redevelopment of a former industrial neighborhood on the city’s north end could come together in the next few months, if one of two proposals pans out.

The city of Grand Haven is presently evaluating proposals from two unidentified developers who want to acquire and redevelop the 20-acre site lying along the Grand River’s south bank and west of U.S. 31.

City Manager Patrick McGinnis said both developers have pitched plans to transform the acreage into a mixed-use development that, in varying degrees, would consist of residential, retail-commercial and offices.

One proposal calls for a development of about $20 million. The other envisions a $50 million project.

Either of the current proposals will need altering from their present form in order to proceed, although McGinnis believes one of them can ultimately work out for the city.

“They’re very distinct proposals and both have strong points and weak points,” he said. “We may have a winner on board that can be fashioned in such a way the city and the developers can come out on top.”

The city for years has been trying to find a developer or developers that will transform the site into a residential/commercial neighborhood that creates additional tax base, new jobs and a new northern gateway to the city.

McGinnis said city staff would recommend one of the proposals to the Grand Haven City Council in the coming weeks — probably in March — and ask for authority to negotiate a final development agreement for the project, known as GrandWater.

Once the City Council settles on a single developer, the city staff will iron out details of a final development plan, a process McGinnis said should take 30 to 60 days.

If the City Council does not accept one of the proposals, the city will likely re-open the process and seek new development proposals for the site, he said.

The city has so far invested $5.9 million to acquire a patchwork of parcels and assemble the project site. The city also has paid to pinpoint soil and ground water contamination and to draft a remediation plan.

Despite the contamination, the property is “very valuable and very ready for a developer to come in,” McGinnis said.

Tax-increment financing will pay for mitigating environmental issues and installing public infrastructure.    

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