Feeling that they lack the proper atmosphere among Grand Haven City Council members —much less majority support — City Place developers for now have opted not to proceed further as business groups and the city weigh studying the future of the downtown business district.
“It’s kind of taking a deep breath here and evaluating where we’re at and evaluating the current climate,” said Steve Loftis, one of three businessmen behind the $20 million to $25 million City Place project.
“Being realistic, there wasn’t much we could get done at the current moment,” Loftis said. “The bottom line is there really isn’t much we can do right now except to continue to collect information.”
Loftis and Ross Pope, the owner of Spring Lake-based Redstone Development Group, have teamed up to undertake the project with Ira Green, a real estate developer and broker from Petoskey who has developed similar ventures in Mackinaw City and Frankenmuth.
As proposed, City Place would re-create a two-block area of the central business district with a hotel and conference center, a pedestrian mall with boutique retail stores, professional office space and upper-floor condominiums.
Support and cooperation from city leaders is needed in order for City Place to come to fruition. To accommodate the project, the developers are asking the city to vacate a one-block portion of First Street, allow the use of two existing public parking lots that they promise to replace with underground parking, and undertake a downtown streetscape project.
Plans for City Place have the backing of business groups in town that at least want the city to consider the project.
But some City Council members have shown resistance to the development amid concerns about its long-term effects on the community.
The developers hope to bring development plans back as the city and downtown business groups embark on studies of the business district, possibly after the November mayoral and city council elections.
“We’re not going to give up. We’ve come a long way and it’d be a little premature for us to say we’re going to drop the whole program,” Loftis said.