GR urban market project moves forward

July 25, 2010
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A memorandum of understanding is being written between the Downtown Development Authority and the Grand Action Committee for a proposed urban market on the district’s fringe, now that a design team has been named for the project, which carries a cost estimate of $27 million.

“This is still a project in process. There is no certain model,” said David Frey, a co-chairman of Grand Action with John Canepa and Dick DeVos.

Frey unveiled the market’s designers last week at the DDA meeting and named Hugh Boyd as the team’s leader. “He is literally the expert on this specific design,” said Frey.

Boyd, who operates out of Montclair, N.J., has specialized in designing public and farmers markets for the past 25 years. He designed the Market at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the Portland Public Market in Portland, Maine, and the Ardmore Farmers Market in Ardmore, Penn., among others.

Boyd was also part of the feasibility study that Ted Spitzer of Market Ventures conducted for Grand Action. The study led to selecting the former Sonneveldt Produce Co. property for the marketplace. It’s a 3.5-acre-parcel owned by the DDA on Ionia Avenue SW near Wealthy Street. There are four buildings on the site that will be renovated for the market.

“I think this is a great opportunity for an urban market. I’m beginning to lay out the concepts within the buildings,” said Boyd. “Maybe by mid-October we’ll have a better grasp of the program.”

Even though some have said a more centralized location near the Grand River would have been a better option, Boyd told the DDA last week that putting the marketplace on property that sits on the fringe of downtown was a good choice. He said the site, which is near U.S. 131, would encourage growth in that downtown sector. “Being on the fringe of downtown makes it easily accessible. It’s a great site,” said Boyd.

Joining Boyd on the team are architectural firm Design Plus, and Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, an engineering company. Both are based in Grand Rapids and both will work with Boyd to develop a schematic design for the proposed indoor-outdoor, year-round market. The market has been projected to pump $775 million into the local economy over 10 years and create about 1,300 new jobs. The DDA gave the project $100,000 in April.

The memorandum, which is basically a partnership agreement between the DDA and Grand Action, will likely include details of how the property will be used for the market, how ownership of the market will be defined, a financing plan to build it, and support for applying for state brownfield tax credits. The naming rights of the market still have to be decided. It’s possible that the biggest contributor to the Grand Action fundraising effort will receive that honor. DDA Chairwoman Kayem Dunn said board members will review and potentially approve the document at their next meeting, which is set for Aug. 11.

Grand Action and the DDA also came together to build Van Andel Arena in 1995. The DDA owned the arena until the Convention and Arena Authority was created in 2000, but still makes the annual bond payments on its $55 million share of the $75 million construction cost.

SMG Regional General Manager Rich MacKeigan told the board last week that Rockford Construction Co. will manage the 3,000-square-foot expansion of the arena’s northwest concourse. Rockford placed a bid of $714,871 for the construction work. Other items, like furniture for the new space that could become a food court, will raise the project’s cost to roughly $1 million. The CAA has budgeted $1.2 million for the project. Work was to have begun last week

“We’re probably looking at completion in time for the hockey season,” said MacKeigan. The Grand Rapids Griffins open the home portion of their schedule Oct. 8.

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