DDA and Grand Action join in Urban marketplace

August 13, 2010
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Members of the Downtown Development Authority entered into an agreement with the Grand Action Committee last week to develop the much-talked about $27 million urban market. The market will be built on 3.5 acres at Ionia Avenue and Wealthy Street in the district’s southwest fringe.

The agreement calls for the creation of Grand Rapids Urban Market Holdings LLC, a for-profit entity, to take title of the property the DDA owns. It also calls for the creation of a nonprofit corporation called Grand Rapids Urban Market to manage the market.

A nine-member board of directors will be named to oversee GR Urban Market. The DDA and Grand Action will each have a representative on the board; both organizations will raise funds for the market’s operations. Board members will serve three-year terms. The market likely will be named after the lead donor to Grand Action’s private fundraising campaign.

But a date for the DDA to transfer the property hasn’t been set. “That is something we will be working on over the next several months,” said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler.

“This is a preliminary step to get the ball rolling,” added Mayor George Heartwell, also a DDA member.

A for-profit entity was chosen as the property’s titleholder so the market could collect tax-increment financing from the improvements that will be made to the site. The parcel has four buildings that will be renovated for the development, which will be a mixed-use project that also will include apartments and community meeting space.

The DDA hired Hugh Boyd, Design Plus and Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber last month to develop a schematic design for the year-round market. Grand Action hired Ted Spitzer to conduct a feasibility study on the market’s potential; those results were made public in the spring. The study concluded that the urban market would pump $775 million into the local economy over 10 years and create about 1,300 jobs.

The DDA contributed $100,000 to the market’s development in April.

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