Post Commits To Downtown

February 20, 2006
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MUSKEGON — As one of the first investors in the former Muskegon Mall site and chairman of the chamber of commerce, Gary Post is making a commitment to downtown Muskegon.

But he hopes he isn't alone.

"I think we're primed for a lot of additional good things to happen," said Post, who is investing with a partner in three of the five remaining buildings at the former Muskegon Mall.

In his new role as chairman of the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce, Post is taking a more prominent position in helping to make sure those good things happen.

"The chamber is a great organization," he said. "It's really been one of the key, primary organizations that's been promoting Muskegon. I think they will continue to have a very primary, critical role in things that happen in Muskegon."

Post said the chamber has several goals for the year, including raising at least $250,000 to build its own facility in the downtown area.

"We really need to step up and take a more prominent role in redeveloping our downtown," he said.

Other goals of the chamber are to stay visible and be involved with the development of downtown Muskegon, increase the diversity initiatives, continue to work with the West Michigan Chamber Coalition and promote Muskegon as a viable community.

Chamber President Cindy Larsen said Post is committed to the goals of the chamber and has been active for several years on a variety of task forces.

Post has chosen "Embracing Change" as the theme for his year-long tenure as chairman, which Larsen said is very fitting.

"The timing for the 'Embracing Change' theme couldn't be more appropriate," she said.

Larsen said Post will serve the chamber well with his integrity and open mind.

"Gary Post is highly respected in the business community because he has a long track record of community giving, as well as being a thoughtful visionary for the community," she said.

Post said some of the goals are well on their way. Each chamber board member is now required to participate in the Institute for Healing Racism sessions by next year, and the chamber is continuing to grow its regional relationships by working with West Michigan Chamber Coalition members Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Holland

"That's helping all of us to think more regionally," he said of the chamber coalition.

Post is accustomed to thinking regionally, having lived in three West Michigan counties throughout his life. Now 57, Post has lived a third of his life in Allegan County, a third of his life in Kent County, and now nearly a third in Muskegon County.

He grew up south of Grand Rapids and attended SouthChristianHigh School. He was a student at both CalvinCollege and the University of Michigan, earning degrees in science and civil engineering. While still in college, he began working at general contractor Owen-Ames-Kimball and then took a job with the company in Grand Rapids following his 1971 graduation.

Post said he has been in a variety of positions during his career with Owen-Ames-Kimball, beginning with assistant project engineer and then project engineer, assistant superintendent, structural designer, project manager and general superintendent.

"I've had an opportunity to see the business from just about every position in the company," he said. "I don't tend to have a lot of wanderlust."

After 20 years in Grand Rapids, Post moved to Muskegon in 1991 to head Owen-Ames-Kimball's lakeshore division, Muskegon Construction Co.

Post and his wife, Beth, who have four adult children and four grandchildren, now consider Muskegon home.

"We really love it here in Muskegon," he said. "It's a great community."

One of Post's largest projects at Owen-Ames-Kimball was the Delphi plant in Coopersville, which he said lasted 27 months and was a brand new site with the "worst site conditions ever."

"That was one of the memorable things," he said.

Another memorable project was his first job after finishing school: the FederalBuilding in downtown Grand Rapids

Post said his experience with the development of Grand Rapids has given him an idea of what to expect for Muskegon

Grand Rapids has been at it for 40 years," he said. "We can't expect that it's all going to happen overnight."

The Muskegon Construction office on

Western Avenue
was one of the first new buildings built in downtown Muskegon, Post said.

"We're really pleased to be a part of the downtown business community," he said.

Post and partner Russ Strong, president of Muskegon Office Interiors and Grand Rapids Office Furniture, have formed Western Avenue Properties LLC and are in the process of buying and renovating the Daniel's Office Supply, Muskegon Savings Bank and Century Club buildings, three of the five remaining buildings on the former Muskegon Mall site. The buildings are a part of Muskegon's history, having once been part of the former streetscape and then renovated into an indoor mall, before being left standing when the rest of the mall was demolished. Post said the original façades of the buildings will be restored, showing that piece of history.

"I believe it will inspire and prompt a lot of additional interest of developing these, as well," he said of the construction and the street work.    

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