Brown Does For Ashley

January 29, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — A New York development firm had its application for brownfield status approved by city commissioners last week, and that action makes the proposed project the largest brownfield development ever designated by the city.

Ashley Capital plans to invest $162 million into a mixed-use project the firm intends to develop on 206 acres — on Eastern Avenue SE between 36th and 44th streets — that it proposes to buy from Steelcase Inc.

Ashley Capital, which has a history of redeveloping former industrial properties, will recoup $13 million over 10 years for the remediation improvements it makes to the site, if the state also grants the status.

“It is the highest brownfield project we’ve ever done,” said City Economic Development Director Susan Shannon. “There could be up to 4,000 jobs that would produce $1.2 million in income tax.”

The city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority ratified the designation last month.

The work involves redeveloping and renovating about 4.7 million square feet of land that currently has 18 buildings on six separate parcels. Six of the buildings will be demolished, a dozen will be renovated, and a few will be the result of new construction.

Shannon said Ashley Capital is talking with potential tenants and has plans to locate light industrial, residential and commercial uses on the site.

“This could be big enough for Cabela’s, right?” asked 2nd Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala of the highly sought-after sporting and outdoor goods retailer.

“It could be,” said Shannon.

Although Ashley Capital hasn’t closed with Steelcase on the property transaction yet, the company hopes to complete the development in 2011.    

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