City Is Shopping ‘Island’

March 10, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners may decide next week to put the city-owned Public Works Island on the sales block. The 19-acre riverfront parcel at 201 Market Ave. SE accounts for nearly two-thirds of the mysterious 30-acre development that supposedly will bring 10,000 new jobs to the city.

Next Tuesday, commissioners are scheduled to vote on whether to issue a “request for letters of intent” from individuals and firms that may be attracted to the property.

“We will be bringing this forward to the City Commission on the 21st, and we will have an asking price,” said Deputy City Manager Eric Delong, who added that the parcel’s appraisal was almost completed.

DeLong also said he thought commissioners would get an estimate of the cost to relocate city equipment such as street sweepers and snowplows from Market Avenue to another site next week. But DeLong did not identify where the equipment would go.

A letter of intent requires a developer to describe its interest in the property, its plan for the site, its experience with projects, and its financial capability to proceed with a project at the location.

A selection committee comprised of city officials, city staff and community leaders will review the letters and recommend some for interviews. Finalists will be asked to submit full proposals. Letters have to be back to the city by May 19. Committee members will begin their review on May 22.

The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the city commission by Sept. 8, and commissioners would vote on the selected project on Sept. 26. Commissioners would then vote on an agreement with the selected developer three months later on Dec. 26.

Interested parties are to contact City Economic Development Director Susan Shannon at (616) 456-3196 for more information and a tour of the property.

DeLong said selling the parcel to a private developer would give the city an additional $300,000 to $400,000 in tax revenue each year.

“We think this is a prime parcel to market at this time,” he said.    

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