Economic Development, Real Estate, and Sustainability

Owners complete land swap

Deal will result in riverfront park for city, development space for MSU.

July 6, 2018
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The city of Grand Rapids has reached the final step in a land deal that will allow it to obtain a $7.2 million grant.

The city recently completed the purchase of five parcels of land — totaling 3.68 acres — that will be the site of a new park along the Grand River. The city purchased the properties at 511, 519 and 525 Monroe Ave. NW from Kent County for $3.3 million, and 533 and 601 Monroe Ave. NW from Michigan State University for $3.8 million.

“Together, we have been able to deliver a riverfront resource that will support river restoration, provide important new access to the river and create a new recreational resource in Monroe North for all to enjoy,” said Eric DeLong, interim city manager.

For the immediate future, the land will be used as a construction staging area for the river project. It then will become a public site that includes a park and river-related recreational activities.

Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt said the development of the land into a riverfront park ties into the Grand River restoration project highlighted in the GR Forward plan.

“This will provide us with a great riverfront amenity for the community to enjoy well into the future,” Marquardt said. “We could not have accomplished this without the support of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board.”

The land purchases complete the requirements for the city to obtain a $7.2 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to cover 75 percent of the costs of acquiring the properties. The city submitted its application for the grant in 2015 and received the requested funding in 2016, according to an earlier Business Journal report.

MSU also acquired 520 Monroe Ave. NW as part of the deal. The university purchased the asset from the county for $1.65 million and intends to use it to expand its own facilities.

Chuck Reid, director of MSU’s land management office, told the Business Journal in March, “We’re basically trying to develop what we call an innovation park. By acquiring this county lot, it gives us property relatively contiguous to property we own.”

There are no solid plans at the moment, but Reid said any facilities on the property would be medically related.

“This transaction benefits Kent County on many different levels,” said Wayman Britt, county administrator/controller. “The growth of academic institutions and park space will be a benefit to the entire West Michigan area. Getting this deal done required time, patience and hard work, and I am proud of the collaboration that was exhibited to bring it to fruition.”

The lot at 520 Monroe Ave. NW was previously used for county employee parking. An earlier Business Journal report said the city turned over its properties on 601 and 617 Ottawa Ave. NW to build an 80-space parking lot that would be used both by city and county employees, as well as the general public.

Per the agreement, the city would transfer ownership of the lot to the county, but it will continue to operate it as it does other city-owned lots.

According to an earlier Business Journal report, the Grand Rapids City Commission, Kent County Board of Commissioners and MSU Board of Trustees approved the terms and conditions of the property exchanges early in March.

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