Grand Landing Will Cut Ribbon

August 31, 2007
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GRAND HAVEN — The new length of

Miller Drive
that runs into what will likely become one of West Michigan's most prominent intersections is today a dusty stretch of frontier development. On either side, construction crews, already delayed half a season by adverse weather, pound out the initial phase of the $70 million Grand Landing development.

Within the month,

Miller Drive
will trade its gravel for 15-foot sidewalks and a café motif populated by an eclectic mix of retailers and 40 condominiums. Although less coveted than the pricier units along the waterfront and
Adams Street
, half of the condominium units in The Village at Grand Landing are currently spoken for, with a pair of model units opening in September as part of a marketing push leading to a projected Oct. 1 ribbon-cutting.

Designed as a resort property and not a housing development, The Village is seeing condo sales evenly split between primary residences, second homes and rental properties. The retail space on the ground floor is 80 percent leased, with an eclectic mix of new and relocated shops.

The waterfront condos, ranging in price from $400,000 to more than $1 million, will break ground this fall for a summer 2008 ribbon cutting, along with a boardwalk several feet above the shore and a 300-foot outdoor theater that will double as a skating rink during the winter months. All but three of the 24 waterfront units are currently reserved. A 123-room hotel, 17,000-square-foot convention center, 18,000-square foot market, four stand-alone restaurants and two additional housing projects will begin construction in subsequent phases.

"We're on a fast-track pace to build this out," said Craig Adams, president of Grand Landing LLC, the operating entity for the 20-acre development. "The magic number is $50 million by 2011, and we're three full years ahead of that."

To finance environmental cleanup and infrastructure costs for the former industrial site, Grand Landing partnered with the city and state for a $32 million tax-increment financing package. The bonds issued to support that investment were sold last year at a 2-percent premium, putting the project ahead from the start. Although the first phase of construction was delayed for a cumulative 45 days this year by adverse weather conditions, the overall project is progressing rapidly. Adams expects Grand Landing to satisfy the $50 million property-improvement threshold by 2008, three years ahead of the bond repayment.

"We're two percentage points and three years ahead," Adams said. "All those excess tax dollars will go right into the city's general fund."

Overall, Adams expects the project to be a more than $100 million gain in property value on the city's tax rolls.

On its

Jackson Street
out-lots, Grand Landing is already a commercial success. The new Culver's restaurant is trending as one of the highest grossing stores in the chain. The Jimmy Johns Gourmet Subs store last month had the chain's best opening week ever — albeit during the week of the U.S. Coast Guard Festival, historically the city's busiest time of the year.

"I don't think this is a summertime anomaly," said Adams. "I think these numbers will continue; they're indicative of the types of things happening in Grand Haven today. There are a lot of year-round residents supporting it."

Five retailers have announced plans to open in The Village this fall. Four of those are relocating from other sites in Grand Haven and SpringLake. As part of the development's partnership with the city, Platengas Dry Cleaners will relocate its downtown location to Grand Landing, allowing the city to raze the current location for parking. Women's clothing store The Channel will triple the size of its current SpringLake location with its move. Ice cream chain Sweet Temptations will shut down a nearby location in favor of an

Adams Street
end cap with a drive-thru and fully visible ice cream and confection factory. Rockpile Surf Shop will also relocate from SpringLake, allowing it to capitalize on Grand Haven's growing interest in skateboarding and freshwater surfing.

The Earth's Edge, a full-range sporting goods store, will relocate from its landlocked downtown location to a 9,000-square-foot

Jackson Street
end cap.

"This is the opportunity we'd been looking for," said Karl Tucker, Earth's Edge proprietor. "We wanted to stay in the community — we've been here for 13 years — but we needed more space and wanted to be on the water."

The expanded space will allow Earth's Edge to add new lines and stage national events such as a kayak symposium and fishing tournament.

Sunflower Gourmet, the only new business located in The Village, is an organic and gourmet retail store and deli.

"I think it's a great space," said proprietor Jennifer Wilkes. "When they started to develop it, I knew it was where I wanted to be. It's a high-traffic area, lots of visibility, and it's just been unused for too long."

Grand Landing will have a much larger impact on Grand Haven than tax dollars. Besides extending the boardwalk to the highway, the Miller Drive cross street — an extension of Adams Avenue — will serve as the new gateway to the lakeshore, diverting traffic from the largely residential neighborhood along Jackson Street between downtown and the M-31 highway. At the opposite end of

Miller Drive
, a rebuilt
Jackson Street
will be the preferred eastbound corridor from downtown to the highway.

Grand Landing has also partnered with the city on plans for developing the 15-acre Harbor Island property directly to the north into a 200-slip marina, athletic fields and nature preserve.    

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