A local developer is pouring $250 million into a multi-faceted development project to revitalize the Muskegon lakeshore.
Ryan Leestma and his wife, Dr. Emily Leestma, acquired a 30-acre former industrial site on the Muskegon lakeshore and plan to redevelop it into a waterfront community called Adelaide Pointe that will reactivate Muskegon as a destination for water recreationists.
Items actively being considered include a 270-slip marina; a mixed-use building with a restaurant, event center and retail space; a 300-unit mass timber condo building; three public parks; 72 transient slips; 200 dry slips of in-and-out boat service; and 165,000 square feet of winter boat storage.
“A big part of our focus is making this a place where people can go,” Ryan Leestma said. “So, if you are a boater in Saugatuck or Holland or Grand Haven, it’s very difficult to go to another port and find a place to tie up. Whereas here, between the transient dockage and the marina, we’re going to have over a half-mile of side-tie dockage that is very easy for people to use, so they always know they can come to Muskegon if they’re out on their boat and they want to have a good time with their friends.”
The city of Muskegon will implement its tax increment financing (TIF) mechanism to reimburse eligible activity costs. The city also will be pursuing state grants and loans to offset the cost of the $250-million development.
Some industrial buildings currently on site are going to stay and be redeveloped into boat storage.
In addition to new construction, the development team also plans to expand public access to the lake and waterfront. There are three distinct peninsulas on the property that served as logging piers in 1870s.
“A lot of people know Muskegon was Lumber Town USA, and we like to think that we provided all the wood to help rebuild Chicago after the great fire,” Leestma said.
The property also was the site of the Westran Foundry, which was started in the 1920s. The waterfront used to come halfway down the property as it stands today, but when the foundry started casting steel parts, it would dump the sand from the molds out back and eventually fill in the entire northern half of the site, which will now be space for condos, restaurants and the marina.
“I think it’s very cool that the industrial history of the site is actually what is making it as cool as it is for future development,” Leestma said.
The easternmost peninsula is public land, but it has been fenced off for several decades and only open to people who were renting a slip. There are currently only about 30 slips in the basin. Adelaide Pointe developers plan to reopen the area to the public as part of the redevelopment project.
“The water quality in this particular stretch of basin isn’t all that good, because it’s so long and narrow,” said Greg Weykamp, president of Edgewater Resources, who served as architect for the marina. “That will be increased to about double that width, which will improve water and habitat quality and improve access for boats.”
Weykamp said the redeveloped site will have twice as many public trails and twice as much public waterfront as it has now, and all three peninsulas will be open to the public.
“This idea of having gated water and gated communities and it’s all mine, mine, mine … that’s not what we’re about. It’s not what Adelaide Pointe is about, and it’s been a really good relationship from the start,” Weykamp said. “We’re very much aligned with the idea that it’s an all-public waterfront.”
The marina will serve everybody from $10 kayak or paddle boat renters to super-yacht owners, Weykamp added. The facility also will be ADA-compliant and conform to the highest safety standards per the Michigan Clean Marina Program.
The mixed-use structure will feature over 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 5,000 square feet of restaurant space on the second floor. The restaurant will have full open-glass doors for waterfront views, as well a green roof and additional outdoor seating. The event space will be on the third floor and encompass 5,000 square feet.
“One of the things that is really important to me is inclusivity, rather than exclusivity,” said Donna Barnett, agent with Stokas Bieri Real Estate, who is handling leasing for the building. “So that’s one of the things we’re working with in finding a restaurant. We want a restaurant that can serve anyone. It doesn’t have to be five-star, white tablecloth … We want something families can feel comfortable coming to … we want it to be a place for everyone.”
The building will feature a rooftop solar array and mass timber construction, paying homage to the site’s logging history, as well. Architecture services are provided by Architektura PLC in Grand Haven.
The condominium building will encompass six stories — with five stories of residential and a concrete podium for parking — as well as a pool area for residents. There will be 45 1,500-square-foot units and 10 18,550-square-foot units with 270-degree views
The façade will face west, presenting a clear view of the Lake Michigan channel and Pigeon Hill.
“The entire façade, the entire purpose of it is to capture views to the water and have residents really get as close to it as possible,” said Jason Korb, president of Milwaukee-based Korb and Associates, who is the architect for the condo building.
The parking area also includes 59 spaces for vehicles and 72 spaces for bicycles. Vehicle parking is assigned by unit.
A typical two-bedroom unit features a resort-style layout with a glass wall leading to a terrace overlooking the water. Units also feature a den area that can serve as an at-home office.
“We’re seeing a lot of opportunities, especially post-COVID, to design elements to potentially work from home,” Korb said.
Greenridge Realty is currently taking reservations for units. Bradley Company will be the property manager.
The timeline from groundbreaking to completion of Adelaide Pointe is contingent on the numerous grants and approvals Leestma and his development team are seeking. The construction timeline for the condo building will be contingent on enough units being pre-sold.
“We’re doing everything that we can to remove all the obstacles (so) that we’re able to put in roads and utilities and start construction on the first building in the spring,” Leestma said.