Arena Place names initial tenants


A rendering of Arena Place’s south side, including residential units and ground-floor retail. Courtesy Orion Construction

December is when Orion Construction will break ground on Arena Place, a new $28 million, mixed-use development going in on the Area 1 parking lot near Van Andel Arena.

Grand Rapids-based Orion Construction formally unveiled plans, including initial tenants, for Arena Place on Tuesday.

Work on the development — at 55 Ottawa Ave. SW, between Weston and Oakes — has been projected to be completed by the spring of 2015.

“We’re really interested in seeing what’s under the asphalt,” said John Wheeler, director of business development for Orion Construction.

The plan and look

The 210,000-square-foot structure will offer about 50,000 square feet of office space, 75 market-rate apartments — and ground floor retail space across the entire base of the block-long development.

The building will feature a contemporary glass and metal exterior and will include a sixth floor multi-purpose conference room and banquet facility, along with a rooftop garden.

The office portion of the project will be the first new Class A office address built downtown since Bridgewater Place opened in 1993.

Office tenants

Grand Rapids-based Hanon McKendry, a brand-building agency, and its digital partner, MINDSCAPE, are the structure’s first office tenants. Each firm will lease a floor and fill two of the three office floors in the new building.

“It’s really part of our growth plan,” said Bob Blanchard, CEO of Hanon McKendry. “We’ll all be proud of this project.”

Restaurant plans

The retail portion of the building is also starting off with a big boost, as Meritage Hospitality Group will open a new restaurant there on the corner of Ottawa and Weston.

Grand Rapids-based Meritage is “evaluating the opportunity” to open a casual dining restaurant at the property, featuring “fresh, seasonal American fare,” locally grown foods and local beer, wine and liquor, according to an Orion announcement.

“This is our first foray into downtown,” said Robert Schermer, Jr., Meritage CEO and president.

The Arena Place restaurant would be the third Meritage restaurant in the city. The Twisted Rooster and Crooked Goose are the company’s others.


The project will also offer four floors of apartments spread across a mix of studios, one bedroom and two-bedroom units. The plan also calls for a dozen condos on the sixth floor.

In addition, the project features below-ground parking and a surface lot on the building’s west side.


Concept Design of Grand Rapids is the project’s architect, and Orion Construction will seek LEED status for the structure.

“I’m looking forward to the ribbon cutting,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell.

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority owns the Area 1 parking lot.

Orion has a one-year option on it with the DDA and plans to buy the property for $2.25 million.

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