427 Market Ave. SW 427 Market Ave. SW COURTESY OF GOOGLE MAPS

GR examines sale of 1-acre property near amphitheater site

BY Thursday, December 08, 2022 12:55pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from Tim Mroz at The Right Place Inc. and Kara Wood of Grand Action 2.0.

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials are considering selling a 1-acre property near the site of a proposed riverfront amphitheater, with hopes of potentially repurposing the parking lot with housing.

The city acquired the 1-acre property at 427 Market Ave. SW in 2002 to provide overflow parking for a nearby Amtrak Station, which has since relocated. Megabus subsequently used the parcel for pickups and dropoffs, though the bus service no longer operates in Grand Rapids.

In the years ahead, the small parcel could play a role in efforts to repurpose the Market Avenue riverfront with various entertainment and public amenities. 

The 1-acre Market Avenue riverfront property is located on the south side of Wealthy Street, across from an 11.6-acre site where developers plan a 12,000-seat amphitheater. The 1-acre parcel is also included in a broader, 31-acre vision along the riverfront set forth last year by Grand Action 2.0.

According to a city memo, staff will review and present a recommendation to city commissioners in early 2023 on options to sell the property. 

Jonathan Klooster, executive director of the Grand Rapids Economic Development Corp., said during a meeting this week that the city is considering a negotiated sale price that would include provisions about meeting city priorities, such as affordable or mixed-income housing.

The city acquired the property for $451,817 in 2002 through a negotiated settlement agreement, according to a city memo.

Tim Mroz, senior vice president of community development at The Right Place Inc., noted a shortage of developable land in the city’s core, and welcome efforts to reimagine under-utilized sites.

“The opportunities that do present themselves are going to be unique situations like city-owned property,” Mroz told MiBiz. “We continue to hear from developers that the amount of open and developable land in the urban core is becoming less and less.”

Mroz added that he has been working for a couple of years with a developer who is interested in acquiring and redeveloping 427 Market.

While the parcel could potentially be looped into the amphitheater development, the city should avoid being “too prescriptive” with development goals at the property, Mroz said.

Grand Action 2.0 Executive Director Kara Wood told MiBiz that the organization is not considering buying 427 Market, “however it is an important part of the riverfront transformation that is planned.”

Last week, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority again extended its deadline to close on the purchase of the 11.6-acre 201 Market property from the city, though local officials reportedly said plans for the amphitheater are still in motion. The CAA expects to close on the property sale by June of 2023, a year after an original purchase deadline.

Wood said Grand Action 2.0 is still finalizing the project’s proof of concept and due diligence.

“This is a very complex project on a unique riverfront site; however we anticipate that the CAA will close on the property before the extended deadline,” Wood said via email.

Another property sale

Meanwhile, city staff plan to present a request for proposals to city commissioners next week for city-owned property at 1350 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW. The city’s economic development department worked with the South Division Grandville Corridor Improvement Authority and the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association to craft the RFP for the site.

The city’s property disposition policy requires that the city engage community stakeholders, though community groups have already been engaged in drafting the RFP, said Jeremiah Gracia, the city’s economic development director.

“There has been a lot of interest in the future of this property,” Gracia said.

Pending city commission approval on the RFP, a public engagement period would then last until around March of 2023, Gracia said.

Proposals would be reviewed by a committee that includes representatives from the city’s economic development and planning department, the two neighborhood associations, and other community members, according to a city memo.  

The city acquired the Cesar E. Chavez Ave. property on Sept. 7, 2020 through a tax foreclosure at the State Land Bank Authority.

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