GRAND RAPIDS — If the first phase of a proposed mixed-use, movie theater-anchored development project goes through as planned, it could generate a projected $369 million in economic benefits in the first 10 years.
That’s according to an economic impact report released this morning by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI). Earlier this week, 616 Development LLC and Loeks Theaters Inc. detailed plans for a proposed multi-phase, mixed-use development in the Arena South district that will include a nine-screen Celebration Cinema concept, 187 apartments, 38,000 square feet of retail and a 900-space parking deck.
Highlights of the economic impact report include $192.2 million in new downtown consumer spending over the first 10 years, as well as $16.2 million in new sales tax and $156.4 million in new payroll from the unspecified number of jobs created from the development project.
A second phase could come later that would add a 16-story residential tower, the developers have said. The data released by DGRI does not include short-term construction projects or the projected $100 million dollar investment for the first phase of development.
“The proposed ... project is emblematic of the Grand Rapids (Downtown Development Authority)’s legacy of facilitating and participating in catalytic projects that change our Downtown for the better,” said Kristopher Larson, president and CEO of DGRI, which manages the DDA, in a statement. “From stalwart structures such as the Van Andel Arena to programmatic shots of adrenaline like Movies in the Park that deliver returns across multiple bottom lines, the DDA is a proud partner to the public, private, and non-profit organizations working to drive investment and keep Grand Rapids moving forward.”
The DDA currently owns the two surface lots that the developers would build on.
The DGRI report notes that if the developers go through with both phases of development, projected at $140 million, it would make for the sixth largest development investment in downtown, behind three health care projects, the DeVos Place Convention Center and the JW Marriott hotel.
While the developers and other commercial real estate sources have expressed confidence that the project will go forward, it still requires a number of different approvals, including from the Grand Rapids Parking Commission, the DDA board and the Grand Rapids City Commission.
Moreover, the developers have publicly said that they plan to pursue an unspecified amount of incentive dollars from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).
However, as MiBiz has previously reported, the MEDC has said that they are re-evaluating incentive programs such as the Community Revitalization Program (CRP) in communities like Grand Rapids.
Given the early stages of the proposed movie theater development, spokespeople at the MEDC declined to comment specifically on whether such a project would qualify for incentives.
“We’re excited to see projects like this taking place in our urban areas, and we’re always looking for ways to support projects that are revitalizing our downtowns,” said Katharine Czarnecki, vice president of the MEDC.