The industry that builds communities


Van Andel Arena is among five venues nominated for Arena of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. Photo via

With the exception of a small period of time, I have been blessed to live my whole life in West Michigan. You’ve heard the standard reasons why people love West Michigan: the seasons, the family environment, the world-class beaches, among many others.

We are also blessed with a wonderful construction and development community. We have many qualified firms and individuals who are all deeply involved the fabric of our community. Not only are they developing and building structures, they are investing themselves in the way our community is molded and shaped.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the downtown Grand Rapids area. The changes over the last 15 years have been nothing short of remarkable. It was this time of year 16 years ago that Van Andel Arena opened, becoming the catalyst for so much of what has happened in our core city since then. 

What will the future look like? 

Next year will bring 87 new apartments and the opening of a new, world-class Urban Market to the sometimes forgotten area south of Wealthy Street, along the east side of 131.

The Heartside District continues its makeover in 2013 with 83 new apartments on the corner of Division and Cherry in two new mid-rise buildings, the significant re-model and expansion of the Herkimer and the introduction of the new Rapid Transit bus route.

Grand Rapids Community College will embark on $40-million worth of construction and improvements over the next few years, and Grand Valley State University continues its march into downtown with the completion of the Seidman College of Business.

These are only a sample of the projects happening in our core city. What will we say in 15 years about the development that these pioneering projects spurred on?

From workforce issues to sustainability to changing the fabric of entire neighborhoods, these projects are often agents of change in our community. Let’s explore, together, the impact construction and development has had ­­–– and will continue to have –– in West Michigan. 

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