Economic Development, Real Estate, and Small Business & Startups

Developer plans The Leonard in downtown Muskegon

July 31, 2018
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The Leonard Muskegon partial rendering
Courtesy Sweetwater Development

A long-time Muskegon developer is coming back to his roots.

Corey Leonard, the owner of Grand Haven-based BigSigns.com, is acquiring a vacant property at 292 W. Western Ave. from the Downtown Muskegon Development Corporation for a six-story mixed-use project.

The $8.5-million project, named The Leonard, will encompass 44,000 square feet overall, with about 7,300 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and about 7,300 square feet of office space for both the second and third floors.

Leonard’s company, BigSigns.com, will also have an office in the building.

The fourth through sixth floors will have about 18 one- and two-bedroom units, ranging from 800-1,200 square feet.

Planned amenities include a communal area and an underground parking deck with up to 38 spaces.

Leonard said he has already received about 30 inquiries on apartments and a few on the office side. Only one office suite remains, according to The Leonard’s website.

“It’s literally a week now since I put up the sign,” Leonard said. “I’ve really been getting a lot of interest.”

Leonard said he already has a history of development in the area. In 1993, he developed the former Muskegon Hardware building on 605 W. Western Ave., which is now Muskegon Radiology. He sold the building in 1998 before starting BigSigns.com in Grandville.

“I’ve been a big part of building Muskegon up through my career,” Leonard said. “The city’s been something that I’ve always promoted, and (The Leonard) is an extension of that.”

Dave Alexander, director of Downtown Muskegon Now, said Leonard’s investment speaks to the transformation of downtown.

“It’s not every day that we have multi-story projects going up in downtown Muskegon,” Alexander said. “We’re thrilled to have Corey return to Muskegon.”

Leonard’s plans already have city approval, and the Downtown Muskegon Development Corporation said he has one year to begin construction.

Leonard predicted groundbreaking will begin this fall or next spring, and construction should take between 12-16 months.

Currently, Leonard is in the process of selecting a general contractor and a bank for financing. He is also seeking incentives through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Leonard also revealed his interest in a “phase-two” building, which would be similar in size and scope, but feature condos instead of apartments.

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