Renderings for a downtown amphitheater in Grand Rapids. Renderings for a downtown amphitheater in Grand Rapids. COURTESY OF ROSSETTI INC.

Arena board OK’s new agreement to examine amphitheater-adjacent properties; venue design nears completion

BY Friday, February 03, 2023 04:18pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority has authorized an agreement with a private sector partner to examine development opportunities on several properties near a proposed riverfront amphitheater.

The CAA board’s action today marks its second memorandum of understanding with Grand Action 2.0 — a group of local business leaders who have championed several major downtown Grand Rapids projects — involving the amphitheater project. An MOU last year involved the construction of the amphitheater project and the CAA’s purchase of city-owned parcels at 201, 225, 233, 301 and 353 Market Ave. SW.

Friday’s agreement allows Grand Action 2.0 to engage with developers to potentially repurpose land surrounding the 12,000-capacity amphitheater to the south.

The CAA still plans to exercise a $24.3 million option agreement with the city of Grand Rapids to purchase the Market Avenue properties. The option has been extended multiple times as Grand Action 2.0 works through the amphitheater design phase.

“This agreement acknowledges that we still don’t own the site,” Rich MacKeigan told the CAA Board today. MacKeigan is the regional general manager for ASM Global, which manages multiple downtown venues. “It’s still owned by the city, but it’s expected that the site will become CAA property. Those involved — the city, county and the CAA — are hopeful it happens in advance of the June 30, 2023 deadline.”

Local officials noted last year that plans for the venue have attracted the attention of national developers looking to revitalize the riverfront, which could include 1,700 housing units, greenspace, retail and other amenities, as MiBiz previously reported.  

While market needs will determine developers’ proposals for the parcels surrounding the amphitheater, city officials hope to see more housing included, MacKeigan said.

Meanwhile, a finalized amphitheater design — which will influence the project budget and financing plan — has remained the biggest obstacle to the CAA closing on the city-owned property, MacKeigan said. 

The design phase is now “very close” to being completed, MacKeigan added.

Detroit-based sports and entertainment architecture firm Rossetti Inc. is partnering with Grand Rapids-based Progressive AE Inc. on the project design.

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