“We will have condominium office space located at the corner of Third and Western,” said Cindy Larsen, chamber president. “It’s going to be part of a much larger building.”
Larsen said the capital campaign to raise about $350,000 for a down payment on the new office has officially kicked off and $50,000 has been raised so far.
The total cost for the space will be $800,000, but the chamber plans to have a mortgage on the balance, which will make the move cost-neutral.
The location keeps the chamber downtown and also makes the organization a part of the new developments in the area.
“Third and Western is considered by many residents of the community to be the heart of downtown,” Larsen said. “We thought it was very appropriate for the chamber to be at that location.”
Larsen said she is planning to be in the new space by 2007. She said she is looking forward to having more open space and a high-tech environment. The new offices will be 6,000 square feet compared to 3,500 square feet at the current location. In addition to the chamber, the new location will house Muskegon Area First, SCORE, the Jaycees, the Muskegon Area Labor Management Organization and other area business resource organizations.
Some of the new amenities will include more display space for membership information, more private space for small business consultants, more meeting space for committees and training, as well as modern communications technology.
Capstone Real Estate LLC of Grand Haven is partnering with Clifford Buck Construction Co. Inc. and developing the site through Ashton Development LCC. Mike Teeter, co-owner of Capstone, said the site makes sense for the chamber’s new location.
“I think, No. 1, the chamber wants to be downtown,” he said. “They are the chamber, so that’s really where they belong.”
Teeter said the site itself is interesting from a development standpoint because of its status as a Renaissance Zone, which he said will make the $3.2 million project more feasible.
“We’re excited about it because, No. 1, it gives us an opportunity to work with the chamber; No. 2, we really believe in downtown
Purchase of the land is still being negotiated with the Downtown Muskegon Development Corp., which owns the land and of which the chamber is a member.
“We’re not worried about it, but we will have to work through some issues,” Teeter said.
The proposed development is planned to include a 200-space parking ramp and have office, retail and some service locations. Teeter said people are interested in the site and he is talking with prospective tenants.
“I think what it comes down to is, when people decide to do something downtown, I think you’re going to find people that want to be downtown,” he said. “There are a number of people out there right now that want to see things happen.”
Teeter said the development would have between 14,000 and 20,000 square feet of office space, and would happen in phases. There will be options to both own and lease, though Teeter said he prefers ownership. The project is planned to be a green building, but details have not yet been resolved.
One of the possible tenants is the Muskegon Area Transit System bus terminal, which would come with $1.6 million in federal funds that is earmarked for the terminal.
“The bus terminal, of course, would help foot the bill for the transportation grant,” he said.
Teeter said relocating the bus terminal, which is now located at the edge of the former Muskegon Mall site, would make it more user-friendly by allowing people to take advantage of other proposed tenants such as a coffee shop.
Teeter said it is important for developers and potential developers to work together downtown.
“The downtown isn’t going to be one of those projects that one group can handle,” he said. “We’ve all got to work together to make this thing happen.”