The construction industry experienced widespread pauses on projects in 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the backlog made for a packed year in 2021, which features a range of ongoing projects including housing developments and reuses of former industrial buildings. Talent shortages, high construction costs and long lead times for materials have caused delays for some larger-scale projects with postponed completion dates, but executives have reported that overall project pipelines remain strong. Here are eight notable West Michigan construction projects at various stages of development.
Boston Square Together
- Location: Grand Rapids
- Architect: UrbanWorks Ltd., Isaac V. Norris & Associates P.C., Viridis Design Group, Integrated Architecture Inc.
- Construction manager: Brinshore Development LLC, Rockford Construction Co. Inc.
- Cost: $60 million (phase one)
- Completion: 2031
- Developer: Amplify GR
The planning process for Boston Square Together — a mixed-use development that spans 7 acres on Grand Rapids’ south side — began in the summer of 2019, and the site plan received full approval from the Grand Rapids City Commission in fall 2020.
Construction on Kzoo Station, a food incubator collaboration project with SpringGr, is underway as part of the project at 1445 Kalamazoo Ave. The former Good Shepherd building is being remodeled into the food incubator that will include rentable catering kitchen space.
Depending on Low Income Housing Tax Credits availability, construction work will start in the fall of 2022 on two apartment buildings that will contain about 100 units out of the eventual 270 that are planned for the development. Two senior living buildings and two additional multifamily buildings are also part of development plans.
“The third project we’re hoping to launch next year is the new community center space that will include an early learning center,” said Amplify GR Executive Director Jon Ippel. “The big picture is we’ve been working with the community for the last several years and really this work is rooted in bringing the types of amenities and affordable housing options for small business owners that this community has been asking for for many years.”
- Location: Grand Rapids
- Architect: Dan Vos Construction Co.
- Construction manager: Dan Vos Construction Co.
- Cost: $3.5 million
- Completion: January 2021
- Developer: West Michigan Construction Institute
The West Michigan Construction Institute is opening an instructional hub for educational classes and programming at 801 Century Ave. SW in Grand Rapids, just west of U.S. 131. The organization is currently wrapping up renovation work on the building, which formerly housed an Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. equipment yard.
“Workforce shortages are ebb and flow, but what matters about construction careers and really careers in general is providing individuals with the meaning behind the work. When you have a career in construction and learn a skill, it’s something you get to have for the rest of your life,” said WMCI President Jen Schottke. “On a project basis, we’re fortunate we haven’t faced challenges that so many others have with delays because of the nature of doing a renovation project versus a new build.”
The organization has so far raised $4.5 million of a $5.75 million fundraising campaign to help with construction costs and maintenance of the space.
The West Michigan Construction Institute will hold classes for students from local schools who are interested in construction careers, as well as offer courses for adults considering a career transition or people employed in the industry looking to add to their certifications.
- Location: Walker
- Architect: Cleveland-based Vocon Partners LLC
- Construction manager: TBD
- Cost: $80 million to $100 million
- Completion: TBD
- Developer: Stoneleigh Companies LLC
Illinois-based developer Stoneleigh Companies LLC is redeveloping the now-defunct Lincoln Country Club at 3485 Lake Michigan Drive in Walker. The plan is to start construction in spring 2022 on 250 single-story apartment units. Plans also include 68 single-family units as well as commercial outlots on the site.
“We started working on this in late 2019 and COVID-19 definitely threw a monkey wrench into the approval process. But out of that resulting site plan and product, we ended up with a better result than we had conceived two years ago,” Stoneleigh Companies CEO Rick Cavenaugh told MiBiz. “It was a tough process. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fast but what we ended up with was a much better solution for us.”
Stoneleigh Companies closed on the purchase of the property from AMF Bowling Centers Inc. in January 2021 after the golf course and bowling alley were permanently closed in 2020.
The demolition of the bowling alley is almost complete, and the rest of the construction work is expected to start in spring 2022, Cavenaugh said. The Walker City Commission gave preliminary site plan approval for the development plans, and is set to consider final approval of the plans in the coming months, he said.
“Our goal is to break ground on the apartment part of the project in the spring, and bring in the roads and buildings after that,” Cavenaugh said.
- Location: Muskegon
- Architect: Edgewater Resources LLC
- Construction manager: Adelaide Pointe QOZB LLC (in-house)
- Cost: $250 million
- Completion: 2028-2031
- Developers: Ryan and Emily Leestma
Ryan and Emily Leestma are in the early stages of developing 30 acres of Muskegon waterfront property, but they are making steady progress with their plans to construct luxury condos, a marina, restaurant, event space and expanded public trails.
The couple announced the project plans shortly after they purchased several parcels along Western Avenue in Muskegon in March 2021 for about $5.5 million total. The city of Muskegon recently approved a planned unit development for the project, which is expected to break ground in spring 2021.
“We’ve never done a project of this size before, but we know we’ve assembled the best team to take it on,” Emily Leestma recently told MiBiz.
First steps of the project include installing utilities for the buildings and adding three roads throughout the site, Leestma said.
For the marina, the project calls for dredging a basin that was destroyed from high water levels in recent years and expanding it to install about 70 transient day slips for boaters. It will also include 200 dry slips and 165,000 square feet of stacked winter boat storage.
Plans also call for a multi-use building that will contain a restaurant, retail and event space. The developers have already received a couple of letters of intent from businesses for the restaurant and event space, Leestma said.
Construction crews will break ground on the residential portion after at least 70 percent of the 55 units are reserved for the first luxury condominium building, Leestma said. The expected six-story building will include lakefront views, private terraces, vehicle parking and a shared pool. Price points will range from $599,000 to $949,000.
Other plans for the development include an additional five residential buildings that will likely contain about 220 more condo units and about 200 to 250 apartment units or hotel rooms.
Parts of the timeline and development plan are contingent on financing tied to several grants that Leestma expects to hear back on next year.
“Right now we’re pushing for green energy grants,” Leestma said. “We are trying to put in solar paths, docks and walkways that are pretty innovative. There is a lot of funding out there for projects like that.”
Lofts on Rowe
- Location: Ludington
- Architect: Lott3Metz Architecture LLC
- Construction manager: Pioneer Construction Co.
- Cost: $14 million
- Completion: September 2022
- Developer: Michigan Community Capital
Lansing-based nonprofit Michigan Community Capital is working to turn a former factory building into 67 units of workforce housing at 801 N. Rowe St. in Ludington. The building was donated by Ludington-based Change Parts Inc. owner Ron Sarto, and his wife, Dawn Sarto. Construction work started in May 2021.
“An exciting thing we discovered in construction is we thought we’d have to cover up the original brick and wood inside, but we are leaving that exposed, along with the historic windows,” said Marilyn Crowley, vice president of investment at Michigan Community Capital.
The building was constructed in 1890 and housed various manufacturing uses over the years, which most recently included Wolff Wire Corp., Change Parts Inc. and Wolverine Sportswear Co.
Michigan Community Capital is working to get the structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is preserving historic characteristic elements of the building as part of the construction process, Crowley said.
Construction crews currently are repairing masonry throughout the building as well as wall framing work on the interior, Crowley said. Electrical and plumbing work is mostly completed, and drywall work is starting on the building’s third floor. The plan is to have the project completed by September 2022.
Plans also call for a retail or office tenant to fill 750 square feet of ground-floor space, though a tenant has not yet been identified, Crowley said.
Apartments will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Rents will not be income restricted but will be priced at reasonably affordable rates aimed at households earning 80 percent of the area median income, Crowley said. Starting rents will range from $750 for studio units to $1,300 for three-bedroom units.
The project has received several incentives and donations from public and private partners, Crowley noted.
“We’re a nonprofit, which is why the building was donated to us,” Crowley said. “We’re concerned with improving the community and providing more housing rather than turning a profit with this project.”
Mill at Vicksburg
- Location: Vicksburg
- Architect: Hopkins Burns Design Studio PLLC
- Construction manager: Frederick Construction Inc.
- Cost: $80 million
- Completion: 2026
- Developer: Paper City Development LLC
Founded by Vicksburg native Chris Moore, Paper City Development LLC’s plans to transform the former Lee Paper Mill site in Vicksburg into a mixed-use tourist destination will now be unveiled at once rather than in phases.
Redevelopment plans for the former industrial site include opening a satellite location of Old Stove Brewing — which Moore founded in Seattle — as well as an event space, distillery, beer garden, restaurants, various commercial spaces, a museum dedicated to the U.S. brewing industry, as well as hotel space.
“We have decided based on recommendations to open the whole project at once instead of in phases because we want it to be a pretty exciting reason for people to come drive and see the place,” said Jackie Koney, chief operating officer for Paper City Development. “The advice has been to open the majority of the building all at once. It is taking us longer than anticipated, partially because of COVID, but also because we want to make sure it can be financially sustainable for the long haul. We’re taking our time to make our decision to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Onsite lead paint abatement has been completed on several buildings, and roof work is close to being completed, Koney said. Construction crews are close to finishing up the exterior masonry work before moving on to interior demolition work.
“We definitely want to be a destination with beer, events and music,” Koney said. “What we’re finessing right now is the size of the spaces and where they will go. We need hotel rooms and places for people who are coming to stay, so we’re looking at maximizing hotel space. The focus is on being a destination and having conferences and meeting spaces.”
Center for Transformation and Innovation
- Location: Grand Rapids
- Architect: Seattle-based NBBJ, various other partners
- Construction manager: Rockford Construction Co. Inc.
- Cost: $100 million
- Completion: Fall 2023
- Developer: Spectrum Health
Vertical construction is expected to start in early spring 2022 on Spectrum Health’s Center for Transformation and Innovation campus in Grand Rapids’ Monroe North neighborhood.
The $100 million project spans 635, 706 and 725 Bond Ave. NW just north of downtown. The project will include modernizing the existing 155,000-square-foot Brass Works building along with the construction of a new eight-story, 157,000-square-foot building.
Two parking ramps will also be constructed, along with a surface parking lot to accommodate the 1,800 full-time employees the project is designed to accommodate, including 350 of whom will be new to the Grand Rapids area. The project will consolidate 15 Spectrum offices throughout Grand Rapids and three more outside the city.
The Grand Rapids City Commision will consider approving $22 million in brownfield incentives for the CTI campus at its Dec. 7 meeting.
- Location: Grand Rapids
- Architect: Walsh Group
- Construction manager: Rockford Construction Co Inc.
- Cost: $45 million
- Completion: Mid 2022
- Developer: Health Innovation Partners joint venture
It’s been just over a year since Perrigo Co. plc announced plans to move its North American corporate offices to Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park along Medical Mile. The pharmaceutical giant will occupy three upper floors of the building at 430 Monroe Ave. NW.
Construction has been ongoing on the 127,460-square-foot building, and the project is expected to create 170 jobs once completed in mid 2022.
City leaders expect the project to help create an ecosystem that will draw other companies to invest in downtown Grand Rapids.
Perrigo is domiciled in Dublin, Ireland, but run from its existing offices in Allegan, where the company was founded more than 130 years ago. One of the reasons the company chose Grand Rapids for its North American headquarters was the Medical Mile’s potential to become the “Silicon Valley of self-care,” company CEO Murray Kessler previously told MiBiz.
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved a $2 million Michigan Business Development grant at the time the project was announced.