DeVos Family Proposes Sportsplex


    KENTWOOD — The DeVos family is seeking the city of Kentwood’s blessing to build a 96,000-square-foot MVP Sportsplex in conjunction with a 30,000-square-foot medical office building on 10 acres at Burton Street and East Paris Avenue.

    Though the site of the proposed $17 million facility is fairly close in proximity to East Hills Athletic Club on East Paris and Michigan Athletic Club on Burton, the developers believe the fitness market in town is large enough to support a third large club.

    “The market research showed that there is a population base that can support our product and the population should be able to support existing products,” said Karl Droppers, vice president of the DeVos family’s RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, Fla., which is owned by RDV Corp. in partnership with Florida Hospital.

    “Market trends and a study we conducted make it clear there’s plenty of room for another fitness center in this neighborhood.”

    Droppers said the East Paris location was attractive just because of the strength of the demographics.

    International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association statistics, the developers point out, show that between 1987 and 2002 health club memberships more than doubled among people 35 to 55 years old and more than tripled among people 55 years and older.

    The developers also point out that no new fitness clubs similar in size to East Hills and the MAC have opened in that interim to serve the growing population of fitness enthusiasts in metro Grand Rapids.

    Though small storefront gyms have cropped up here and there, the MVP Sportsplex would add to the market another large sports wellness facility, or “healthplex,” which combines traditional fitness activities with physical therapy and retail space for medical outpatient services.

    Droppers said plans call for a “family oriented” facility focused on fitness, recreation and sports, with an indoor and outdoor pool, six indoor tennis courts, a fully equipped gym, daycare facility, small café, and health- and medical-related offices.

    Though a restaurant and fitness-related retail spaces were originally part of the plan, “it wasn’t the wish of the city or its residents to do that, so we backed off of that,” he said.

    Droppers said the facility would employ more than 100 people.

    The Kentwood Planning Commission will vote in October whether or not to recommend the project for City Commission approval.

    “If everything moves well, we would hope to open the sportsplex in the first quarter of 2005,” Droppers said.

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