Areas Retail Growth Continuing

March 28, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — According to one commercial real estate brokerage, the retail market across West Michigan is strong and should remain that way despite the sagging condition of the U.S. economy.

“We’re in great shape. We’re going to stay in great shape,” said Bill Bussey, vice president and associate broker for Grubb & Ellis/Paramount Properties in downtown Grand Rapids.

Bussey heads the seven-member retail team at Grubb & Ellis/Paramount and in the firm’s latest outlook he listed six reasons why the retail component of the commercial real estate business is doing so well in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.

The region has:

  • A very diverse industrial base that doesn’t depend on one industry.

  • A well-educated and young work force with a median age of 33.

  • A growing population and work force that will help sustain future expansions of local companies.

  • A larger than average household size and a higher percent of married than the U.S. average — 2.7 people per household here vs. 2.6, and 58 percent married here vs. 52 percent.

  • A higher average household income, $58,003, and a lower cost of living than most places.

  • An underserved retail market.

Those half-dozen reasons, along with continuing construction in downtown Grand Rapids and the suburbs, have given the region a fairly stable economy. And Bussey projects that the retail end will remain stable and even grow in the near future.

“If anything, this area is still ‘under stored’ compared to most other metropolitan cities,” he said. “Thus, there is still room to grow and there are still many national stores that are not here.”

Bussey said one of the biggest retail developments coming is the one being done by Jeff Hundley, Ed Finkelstein and Mark Finkelstein on the former Showcase Cinemas site at 28th Street SE and I-96. The developers are planning for 75 acres of upscale and unique retail on the last large chunk of 28th Street left.

“This area should pull from as far to the east as Lansing, from the north to Traverse City and from the south to Michigan City, Ind.,” said Bussey.

Bussey said to look for another Kohl’s to arrive in the Muskegon area in the next dozen months and that work should begin this year on the Lakes Crossing retail development in Fruitport, right across from the successful Lakes Mall.

Bussey added that Centerpointe Mall, the revived Eastbrook Mall, would reach full tenant capacity this year and that another big box development would come to the South Beltline area, mostly likely near Kalamazoo Avenue.

Bussey also said that details on the new Bayberry Marketplace planned for Byron Center Avenue and M-6, the South Beltline, should be coming this year. The project will be located across from the new Metropolitan Hospital site.

“This retail development is expected to be a grocery-based neighborhood shopping center,” he said.

For a copy of the West Michigan Retail Outlook, contact Grubb & Ellis/Paramount at 774-3500.           

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