Construction, Economic Development, and Real Estate

Downtown theater complex plans change

August 8, 2017
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Downtown theater
Updated plans for the downtown movie theater project will go to the DDA August 9. Courtesy DDA

The developer of a proposed $140-million mixed-use downtown movie theater project is presenting its updated plans to the Downtown Development Authority tomorrow morning.

According to the DDA agenda, Jackson Entertainment LLC’s refined plans for the project, which is slated to occupy current city parking lots 4 and 5 south of Van Andel Arena, include a nine-screen Studio C! movie theater concept from Celebration! Cinema, apartments, a 140-room four-star hotel, retail and office space, a public plaza and up to a 900-space parking ramp. The redrawn plans differ significantly from the initial term sheet agreement submitted to the city last April.

The original term sheet submitted to the city included the nine-screen Studio C! Movie theater, 187 apartment units in phase one and an additional 150 units built in a potential “phase two” tower, 38,000 square feet of retail space and a more-than-900-space parking ramp built with the phase two tower pad and public plaza.

According to a memo from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. president and CEO Kris Larson to the DDA, since submitting the term sheet, Jackson Entertainment has spent the last year engaging the community to further define the project going forward “to reflect current real estate market trends and secure partnership commitments from various development partners.”

The newly defined plans reduce the number of apartments built in phase one to 98 units with up to 154 units included in the 10-story phase-two tower, which would be built atop the parking structure. If the DDA and City Commission vote to approve the new agreement, Jackson Entertainment would have 10 years to begin construction on the phase-two tower. If the developer chooses not to build or show cause to build within the timeframe, the city could buy back the air rights.

Terms regarding the 900-plus space parking ramp that was to be purchased by the city for $28 million upon completion of construction also have been altered. Rather than purchasing the ramp, which now will accommodate between 750 and 900 spaces, the city will lease 300 parking passes from Jackson Entertainment for seven years. The new agreement structure would mean the ramp is subject to property taxes.

The city and DDA also would reimburse the developer for costs to build an extension of Ottawa Avenue south of Oakes Street through the Area 4 lot. Following construction, the DDA would retain ownership of the lot west of the new Ottawa Street to eventually be sold as future development. The city and DDA’s costs of reimbursement would eventually be replenished via brownfield and tax increment financing streams.

Under the proposed agreement, Jackson Entertainment would purchase the land from the DDA for approximately $6.88 million.

If approved by the DDA, City Commission and Jackson Entertainment, a closing on the agreement could occur in about 90 days. Construction on the project could begin in November and be completed approximately two years later.

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