A Village In The North Suburbs


    GRAND RAPIDS — Evergreen Properties is in the process of developing the last virgin corner of one of the region’s busiest intersections into a real estate product new in West Michigan.

    Already home to Meijer and Knapp Village to the southeast, Celebration! Village to the northeast and Bank One to the southwest, the northeast corner at the intersection of Knapp Street and East Beltline soon would become home to what is being termed the region’s first “lifestyle center.”

    “Lifestyle centers are new to Grand Rapids,” said Steve Benner, Evergreen Properties president.

    “It’s a very upscale style of retail development, something that you can’t put 10 or 15 of in Grand Rapids.”

    The 500,000-square-foot development is patterned after a relatively new retail concept that has gained popularity in other parts of the country.

    Taking the village motif used at Rivertown Crossings in Grandville a step further, The Village at Knapp’s Crossing would feature an urban streetscape design. At first glance it might remind visitors of Universal Studios or Disneyland, but with retail outlets rather than amusements.

    Beltline frontage would be reserved for six to eight free-standing restaurants, while the interior would feature large anchor stores as well as smaller national and local retailers located along what is basically a pedestrian street with little traffic and no parking.

    These buildings would be lined closely together with an intersecting Main Street and the bulk of parking located on the exterior of the development.

    In the center of the development would be a town square, featuring a playground and entertainment area.

    “People still want to feel like they’re in an urban center,” Benner explained.

    “But they don’t want to deal with the parking and such. This gives them the downtown feel in a suburban area.”

    JPRA Architects is the designer of the development.

    The firm, based in Farmington Hills, is responsible for a number of lifestyle centers throughout the United States, including recent eastern Michigan development The Village of Rochester Hills for Robert B. Aikens & Associates Inc.

    Currently in the approval and planning process, the project could break ground in early 2005.           

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