Great Takeoff for Grand Landing

January 7, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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GRAND HAVEN — A 20-acre eyesore has disappeared, and in its place are the first major components of a new northern gateway into Grand Haven — Grand Landing, the largest commercial/residential development project in the city in many years.

Grand Landing, situated on the south channel of the Grand River on the west side of U.S. 31, has been designed as a complete resort community. It includes a hotel and convention center, up to 130 condos, restaurants, an upscale grocery store, a boardwalk along the river, an outdoor amphitheater, and a wide variety of retail shops and service businesses.

The project, involving an investment in excess of $70 million, is predicted to add $100 million to the city's property tax rolls, according to Craig S. Adams, president of Grand Landing, who said the project will be constructed in several phases, with completion expected by 2011.

Phase One, called The Village at Grand Landing, is nearing completion. It includes 40 condos situated above approximately 37,000 square feet of retail space, plus a Culver's restaurant and a Jimmy John's sub shop. The two fast-food franchises are in close proximity to U.S. 31, and business during their first summer was "tremendous," said Don Knape, vice president of Grand Landing. He added that retail space in The Village is 70 percent spoken for.

Condos in The Village range in price from about $180,000 to $320,000, according to Knape, and 20 of them are spoken for.

Now under construction are seven of the 15 "row houses" that will be on Adams Avenue, four of which are already sold, according to Adams. The row houses are condominiums with up to three bedrooms and main-floor master suites, fitted with balconies and front porches, and priced from $250,000-plus.

Future construction will result in 36 condos on the river and overlooking the harbor to the west. Those will range in price from $400,000 to $500,000.

"We hope to break ground this spring on our boardwalk," said Adams.

In the planning stage is an eight-story hotel with banquet and meeting facilities, which will be located in the middle of Grand Landing. According to Knape, the top five floors of the hotel tower will be private condos costing up to $1 million each.

"We are working with a couple of very interested parties but we don't have a final deal put together yet,” said Knape of the hotel project.

The land now occupied by Grand Landing was acquired by the city of Grand Haven in the 1990s. Prior to that it had been industrial, with a metal plating factory, a tannery and a junkyard, according to Knape, plus a garage for Ottawa County Road Commission equipment.

J. Arthur Miller, an architect and real estate developer and one of the three principals of Grand Landing, said the city extended an open invitation to developers in 2002 to propose ideas for use of the land. Miller said he presented "an actual plan" for the property before he knew Adams or Knape. "But nothing came of that," he added.

Not long after that, Miller met Adams, who saw the artist's rendering of Miller's original plan for the vacant land in Grand Haven. Adams proposed that he and Miller join forces to try again to develop the property, and Miller agreed.

Miller has high praise for both Adams and Knape. A Massachusetts native with a master's degree in architecture from MIT, Miller has been an architect for 50 years and a developer for 30, but he said Grand Landing is "probably the most interesting project I have ever worked on. If Craig hadn't come along, it wouldn't have happened, at least not this way."

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