Half Of High Tech Sites Secured

December 27, 2002
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MUSKEGON — The coming year should see the vision of turning a contaminated industrial site along Muskegon’s waterfront into a high-tech business and residential park become reality.

Agreements have been secured for more than half of the parcels within Edison Landing, the new name for what’s previously been known as the Lakefront Muskegon SmartZone.

Chris Kelly, a partner in the Muskegon law firm Parmenter O’Toole, whose members make up Lakefront Development LLC that’s behind Edison Landing, expects to see a flurry of construction activity on the development site by this summer, as individual developers initiate their projects.

“It’s going to be wild down there, that’s for sure,” Kelly said.

Lakefront Development has signed purchase agreements for nine of the 16 parcels available within the 34-acre former Teledyne Continental site along Muskegon Lake. Kelly expects to secure an agreement for a 10th parcel by the end of January. Construction on public utilities and infrastructure to the site also is expected to begin next month.

Four of the parcels sold, totaling 4.2 acres around the entrance to Edison Landing, went to a Lansing developer, Pat Gillespie of Gillespie Development LLC. Gillespie is planning a $7 million to $8 million project with two three-story buildings with 42 luxury loft apartments on the upper floors and “boutique style” retail shops and professional office space on the first floors. The firm is looking to develop two of the parcels for national chain restaurants that are considering the Muskegon market.

Other buyers include Grand Valley State University, which last month began work on a project for a fuel cell research center and business incubator for firms involved in alternative energy. Parmenter O’Toole will have new law offices, and three parcels will go to two separate West Michigan developers who are planning condominium projects.

Kelly anticipates construction on 10 of the 16 parcels to begin during 2003, with all of the acreage being sold by the end of the year, well ahead of Lakefront Development’s five-year projection.

“Once you see all the activity going on down there, the other parcels will sell in a heartbeat,” he said.

Representing Lakefront Development in the marketing of the parcels is Encore Properties LLC, a Grand Rapids commercial real estate firm whose principal, Tom Pohlman, helped to bring Gillespie into the project earlier this year.

The new name of the SmartZone, meanwhile, is designed to reflect intelligence, the alternative-energy theme and the location on the waterfront, Kelly said.               

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