Construction pending on former XRite land

July 20, 2009
| By Pete Daly |
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Redevelopment plans for the former X-Rite Inc. headquarters and manufacturing plant site in Grandville by CWD Real Estate Investment are moving forward, with work possibly starting on the 35-acre site in the spring, according to one of the principals.

Scott Wierda of CWD said his company now is working with Grandville planning commission officials on specific development plans for the site, which includes 3100 and 3050 44th St. SW, on the south side of 44th Street between Ivanrest Avenue and Spartan Industrial Drive. At this point, plans call for a mixed-use concept that would include retail, office space, restaurants and "a potential health fitness type of facility."

"We'll get through the city (approvals) hopefully some time in the fall, and I suspect we'll start construction spring of next year," said Wierda.

"The economy has us cautious, relative to some of the timing of things," said Wierda. "We wouldn't do as much on speculation as we might otherwise have done."

According to a January announcement by X-Rite, which moved from Grandville to Kentwood in late 2006, CWD Capital LLC paid $7,225,000 for the property. One year ago, X-Rite announced it had reached an agreement for sale of the property for $10 million to Lauth Property Group of Indianapolis, but that deal did not materialize. In 2007, a potential deal with Target Corp. also fell through.

CWD is a partnership of Sam Cummings, Wierda and Dan DeVos, formed in June 2008. On the CWD Web site, the business is described as "a full-service boutique investment, development, brokerage, and property management firm," which "specializes in simplifying real estate investment for high net worth individuals and corporate clients in West Michigan and throughout the Midwest."

CWD currently manages several properties in Grand Rapids, including 50 Monroe Ave. NW and 300 Ottawa Ave. NW downtown.

Grandville city officials recently approved an application to the state of Michigan for brownfield status for the former X-Rite site, which, if granted, would permit CWD to pay for environmental cleanup and the demolition of former X-Rite buildings through tax increment financing. The brownfield clean up/demolition project is estimated to cost a total of $417,511, and would be paid for over three years from a portion of the increased property tax revenues collected on the improved property.

Wierda said the total CWD investment in the redevelopment project will "certainly be in excess" of $30 million. The developers plan to retain ownership of a majority of the property for leasing to businesses, he said.

Weirda said it is "just an excellent site" for commercial development, and that the Grandville market is “an excellent market." The new CWD property is located less than a half-mile from RiverTown Crossings Mall.

"We're incorporating some interesting things,” said Wierda. "We're looking at having public sculpture within the development," adding that there might be an outdoor seasonal market and perhaps a small stage for outdoor musical performances.

CWD is also interested in connecting with the Kent Trails, he said, and is looking at a trailhead within the development.

“Even though it's in a suburban area, we are looking at tying in as much of the walking and pedestrian-friendly element as possible."

Kent Trails is a 15-mile, non-motorized trail coordinated by the Kent County Parks Department; it runs from Grand Rapids through Grandville, Walker and Wyoming and terminates in Byron Township. It passes very close to the property.

Grandville Assistant City Manager Matt Butts has been working with the city planning commission on the CWD proposal for the former X-Rite property. He said the preliminary plan CWD submitted in June "very much followed our master plan. The planning commission felt they did a very good job."

Butts said that when the Grandville master plan for future development was revised in 2007 and early 2008, city officials undertook a very careful examination of the X-Rite property because it was such a large site — approximately 35 acres, according to city documents. Butts said the city determined that the most appropriate  type of development would be mixed-use planned unit development, ranging from residential to light industry.

The preliminary plans submitted by CWD indicate that the future structures may include some near 44th Street and Ivanrest. They would be one- and two-story buildings totaling almost 44,000 square feet and would be earmarked for retail/restaurant/service businesses on the ground floor, with office space on the second.

Other commercial structures may be erected further south on Ivanrest, along 44th Street to the east, and off Spartan Industrial drive, and on the south side of the 35-acre site.

Jim Uyl, who heads the commercial/industrial division within the Grandville assessor's office, said there are no other such development projects underway in that city and none that he is aware of in any of the adjoining communities.

"I've never seen (commercial/industrial development) this dead in 34 years" as a member of the assessor's department, said Uyl.

Kenneth Krombeen, city manager of Grandville, agreed that "it seems awful quiet to me," regarding commercial/industrial development in the area.

"We've not had much activity in our planning commission recently," said Krombeen. "What we have had has been minor in nature," with the exception of the CWD project.

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