Kentwood sustains construction boom


The expansion at Roskam is a $14.3 million project, the largest single private development in Kentwood last year. Courtesy city of Kentwood

Kentwood officials believe the city is on the rise, based on year-end construction data.

The city’s year-end permitted construction values remained strong in 2019, totaling $107 million with 12 private projects across several different industries exceeding $1 million.

While Kentwood’s strong retail presence continued to grow in 2019, particularly with the expansion of Woodland Mall, the city has grown in other industries as well. Projects spanning the residential, hospitality, health care services, financial, food processing and automotive industries have added to the city’s portfolio in the past year, and were estimated to create at least 920 new jobs.

Woodland Mall owner PREIT invested approximately $100 million over the past two years in the mall’s redevelopment, according to previous Business Journal reports.

The year-end values come on the heels of Kentwood’s record-setting 2018, which saw more than $125 million in total construction values with 24 private projects exceeding $1 million in investment. While the number of permits processed has remained steady for the last three years, construction value has grown due to the size of projects that have been coming to Kentwood.

“After a record year in 2018, it is very encouraging to see economic development continue to grow at such robust rates in 2019,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley. “Kentwood remains ‘open for business,’ which is our commitment to be a help and not a hindrance for those looking to invest and grow in West Michigan.”

The end of 2019 marked the first time Kentwood surpassed the $100-million threshold in two consecutive years.

Larger private development projects with permitted construction value exceeding $1 million in 2019 included:

  • Roskam freezer expansion — $14.3 million

  • Trinity Health renovations — $7.3 million

  • Bretonfield Phase II — $5.8 million

  • Dermatology Associates of Michigan — $5.5 million

  • Patterson office buildout — $5.5 million

An estimated total of $83 million was invested in new commercial development, commercial additions/remodels and industrial development.

Kentwood Economic Development Coordinator Lisa Golder, who serves as a liaison between the government and business community, attributed the growth in part to Kentwood’s “business-friendly” policies, partnerships and financial support opportunities.

“Our streamlined development process focuses on results, not red tape,” Golder said. “When coupled with excellent customer service and access to resources and incentives, such as tax abatements and loan programs, I think more companies are seeing that doing business in Kentwood makes sound financial sense.”

Tim Bradshaw, the city’s director of engineering and inspections, said the steady increase could be for a variety of reasons, including Kentwood’s strategic location, diversity in the population, numerous industries, available property and quality infrastructure.

“Kentwood offers an ease of doing business due to its central location, access to many modes of transportation and one of the highest-rated major street networks in Kent County,” Bradshaw said. “With close proximity to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, major highways and public transportation, Kentwood serves as an intersection to many West Michigan communities.”

Bradshaw added the city’s in-house engineering and inspection services, including drain maintenance, plan review and business inspections, provides businesses with access to all necessary information and expert support to complete construction projects.

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