Partners shoulder cost of removing barrier to 201 Market redevelopment

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The city commission approved a memorandum of understanding for construction and cost-sharing of the trunk sewer relocation from a public easement located in river-edge properties from Fulton to Wealthy streets SW. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids is entering a partnership with other local entities to remove a critical barrier to future redevelopment of the Market Avenue corridor.

The city commission approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for construction and cost-sharing of the trunk sewer relocation from a public easement located in river-edge properties from Fulton to Wealthy streets SW. The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) will consider the MOU on Friday.

“We’re excited to see the creation of this public/private partnership,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “This is a significant recovery project for our community that will save money now and pay dividends for years to come. By working together, we’re able to achieve several critical community objectives in a way no one of us could otherwise imagine.”

The city, CAA, AHC Hospitality and 63 Market Avenue Holdings LLC are the principals behind this redevelopment approach.

Under the agreement, the parties involved will share the estimated $18.6 million cost of the relocation. Cost share is as follows: private entities, $7,383,942; CAA, $5,000,000; and city of Grand Rapids, $6,252,643.

The agreement also provides a process for entering into an option agreement with the CAA for its acquisition of the northern portion of the 201 Market Avenue property for the proposed development of an approximately 14,000-seat amphitheater and related features, including parking. The agreement clears a longstanding obstacle in the feasibility of constructing such an amphitheater.

“We’re pleased to collaborate with our partners to make this important riverfront corridor more attractive and more ready for redevelopment,” said Steve Heacock, CAA chairperson. “It’s the kind of public/private partnership that Grand Rapids is known for. This work will build on the planning and investment that has come before us to envision a lively place and connected space that will entertain Grand Rapidians, attract visitors and serve our community well into the future.”

The city will retain the waterfront corridor for recreation purposes, and it is anticipated the CAA and city will collaborate on use of portions of the amphitheater property for passive recreation when not in use for events.

If, for some reason, an option agreement is not approved or later is not exercised by the CAA according to the dates in the MOU, the CAA investment will be returned, and the city will assume responsibility for this portion of the sewer relocation project also. The balance of the city’s 201 Market Avenue property will be available for sale for future development.

The project aligns with the River for All, GR Forward and Equitable Economic Development and Mobility Strategic plans and the visioning work Grand Action 2.0 has recently begun for this corridor.

Proceeds of the proposed sales would be used in part for the relocation of city facilities from 201 Market Avenue, development of the recreational river’s edge of the 201 Market Avenue property and other potential investments in service of the city’s strategic plan.

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