Metro Complex: Added
Employment, Tax Funds

January 7, 2008
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WYOMING — Metro Health Village is an example of either urban sprawl or economic development, depending on the beholder.

Once a cornfield, the 170-acre Metro Health Village development at M-6 and Byron Center Avenue SW today comprises a hospital, medical offices, several health care businesses, a park and several retail outlets. According to online minutes, Wyoming planning commissioners in 2007 approved site plans for a cancer treatment center, a dentist’s office, a Macatawa Bank branch, an ITT Educational Services building and a 113-room, five-story, 66,000-square-foot Hyatt Place hotel.

In the talking stage — but not yet in the commission’s approval process — are a second hotel, another medical office building and a food store, said Tim Cochran, principal planner for Wyoming.

The Bank of Holland confirmed that it has purchased land there, but has no immediate plans for development, and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is planning a facility for the area.

The $150 million, 208-bed Metro Health Hospital opened in September, after a rocky beginning that included a 10-month delay in construction while hospital officials worked out financing.

Investment in Metro Health Village could amount to at least $500 million, Cochran said. 

“I’ve been hearing half a billion for a couple of years now, and I don’t know how to put a cap on it.

“There’s still a lot of unknown development that will happen there. They’re master planning, but you never fully know who’s going to walk in the door next with a great proposal to go there.”

So far, most of the retail and residential components at Metro Health Village have yet to rise from the ground. But Cochran said several nearby housing developments have proved popular with senior citizens who are happy to have quick access to health services. Across Byron Center Avenue, investors — drawn by Metro Health Village — constructed the Bayberry Market, a strip mall with 28 businesses. Two drugstores are at the corner. While a Wendy’s Restaurant is nearby, the Planning Commission recently turned down a request from KFC.

Grand Rapids’ other two hospitals, Saint Mary’s Health Care and Spectrum Health, have invested in outpatient facilities within a small radius along M-6.

The rush to develop has made millionaires of those who owned property in the area before the M-6 freeway was built and construction of the hospital began in mid-cornfield.

When development is done, the area could host thousands of jobs — some lower-paying service industry jobs and others in the higher-bracket medical category — and millions in property tax revenue.

Sprawl or development, the Metro Health Village and the growth it has prompted in close proximity are having an impact on Wyoming, Byron Township and the region, Cochran said.

Metro Health Hospital and The Granger Group have been partners in developing the Metro Health Village, where every building must comply with Leadership in Energy Efficient Design standards.

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