The blue shaded area at the top shows the portion of the prison facility that will remain open. The shaded area below that shows the space that will be added to the industrial park. Courtesy City of Muskegon
(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Plans are underway to expand Muskegon’s Port City Industrial Park by 60 acres, expected to leverage tens of millions of dollars in investment.
The 70-acre property, at 2500 S. Sheridan Drive, is the former home of a portion of the West Shoreline Correctional Facility, which the city of Muskegon said recently closed due to a signiﬁcant decline in prison population statewide.
The land is adjacent to the existing 380-acre industrial park and just south of a remaining prison facility. Sixty acres of the property will be used for the park, and some land will act as a buffer between the future park and the remaining prison.
Michigan lawmakers this month passed a bill sponsored by Michigan Sen. Goeff Hansen to transfer the land to the state land bank, which then will sell it to the city for resale or development.
“As long as it's closed, let's have the state be good stewards of the land,” Hansen said. “Rather than have it sit there empty, let's make it work again.”
Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson said the city was notified in January that the facility would be closing. Hansen said the city called the day after it closed to ask about buying it.
“We had a couple of projects that we were kind of chasing around and needed that type of acreage,” Peterson said. “I think all saw it as a win-win.”
Hansen noted the land will be taxable once it’s privately owned, so there’s a direct benefit to the state besides the investment it will bring.
"It was a nice thing that the city saw the silver lining in this, because a lot of places, when the prison closes, it's devastating,” Hansen said.
Peterson said 80 percent of the existing park is occupied and the rest is noncontiguous, so he expects this additional block to make the region more competitive in attracting new investment and job creation.
Peterson said the city, like many others, has a need for industrial development but lacks readily available land to meet the needs of today’s companies. He said many companies prefer to be in an industrial park with room to expand and be close to the highway, rather than in cities.
Because Muskegon is an older land-locked city, much of its developable land consists of only 2- and 3-acre sites, Peterson said.
He said Muskegon has been working for more than five years to attract new industrial companies, investing millions of dollars over the past few decades in public infrastructure to accommodate different types of companies.
Peterson said the city already has been in talks about the land with developers and companies he said are interested in the site due to its proximity to water and sewer infrastructure, access to a variety of transportation networks and available workforce.
Peterson expects the ownership transfer sometime in February, and then the city will be able to determine a timeline and whether there’s a need for demolition and other projects.