Arena South plan economic impact: $386M to $716M


The Arena South Visioning Plan caught the eye of the American Planning Association's state chapter, which gave the DDA its 2013 Planning Excellence Award. Courtesy Grand Rapids DDA

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority will hear the final report Wednesday on the Arena South Visioning Plan, a key directive to turn five parking lots into private developments.

Board members also will decide then whether to option one of those lots to a private developer.

Cornerstone Architects, Virdis Design and Williams & Works have come up with a pair of alternatives for the DDA to consider. One has an estimated economic impact of $348 million to $436 million in spending on construction and infrastructure, along with $38 million to $48 million in tax, leasing and retail sales revenues for a total of $386 million to $484 million, if all five are developed.

The potential economic impact for the second ranges from an estimated $541 million to $716 million, with construction spending running from $490 to $650 million. Taxes, leasing payments and retail sales make up the rest of the revenue. Again, all five lots would have to be purchased and developed for those numbers to be reached.

Both alternatives feature underground parking.

The DDA is likely to award a purchase option for one of those lots, Area 1, to Arena Place Development LLC. The lot, which carries a purchase price of $2.25 million, is situated just west of the arena across Ottawa Avenue NW. The option is for a year and the price tag on the option is $50,000.

“The one-year option agreement provides additional time for the company to develop the project,” said County Commissioner Jim Talen, also a DDA board member.

Arena Place wants to build an office building of at least 50,000 square feet and an 80-unit apartment structure on the site. Both buildings would offer ground floor retail and restaurant space. The plan also includes 82 underground parking spaces and 42 surfaces spaces that would be covered.

The developer has estimated the construction cost as running between $24 million and $26 million, with roughly 150 jobs being created from the project.

“The project is being proposed by a team consisting of a very experienced developer, contractor and architect teaming with Colliers International to bring it into reality. All parties involved have had great success in their respective fields, with a healthy portion of that success in the CBD of Grand Rapids,” wrote Colliers International Principal Ray Kisor in a letter to the DDA.

The DDA listed the lot in April and Arena Place was the only entity that responded to the listing.

The DDA also will consider awarding a contract for architectural and engineering work on Monument and Veterans Memorial parks, a bicycle marketing program, a new bidding and purchasing policy and a building reuse grant for 29 Ionia Ave. on Wednesday.

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