Update: On Feb. 9, the Grand Rapids City Commission unanimously approved an option agreement for the potential sale of 201 Market Ave. property.
GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and the city of Grand Rapids have taken another step to advance plans for an outdoor amphitheater on riverfront property near downtown.
The CAA board of directors approved an option agreement Friday morning to purchase an estimated 11.6 acres of city-owned property at 201 Market Ave. SW to build an outdoor amphitheater. The Grand Rapids City Commission followed with unanimous approval of the option agreement on Feb. 9.
“This agreement can be transferable, so that if at some time Grand Action or potentially another entity steps up to get engaged in the process, that’s anticipated in the agreement,” said Rich MacKeigan, regional general manager of DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena.
Grand Action 2.0, a group of business leaders that have led several large community projects over the years, commissioned a study from Convention, Sports & Leisure International about the feasibility of potential projects at the 201 Market property, including an amphitheater. Findings show Grand Rapids would provide the demand for a riverfront amphitheater that could host 40 or more events annually, as MiBiz previously reported.
Part of the 201 Market redevelopment process involves a memorandum of understanding that was previously approved in November 2020 by the CAA, the city and the county to fund the relocation of a trunk sewer underneath the property. The sewer relocation has been a barrier to previous development proposals. The plan is also contingent on the city relocating its current services at 201 Market to a site farther north owned by the Kent County Road Commission.
The CAA has agreed to contribute $5 million to the $18.6 million infrastructure project, which the CAA received in a 2018 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Under conditions in the MOU, the city would return the $5 million to the CAA if the authority does not exercise the option to purchase the property by June 30, 2021; if the CAA does not close on the purchase of the property by Dec. 31, 2021; or if the CAA is required to return the $5 million to the MEDC. The grant was originally meant to be spent in two years, but received a one-year extension to use the funds.
The anticipated purchase price of the 11.6 acres is $24.3 million, which is a reduction in the appraised value of the property at $58 per square foot after counting the $5 million contribution from the CAA to the sewer relocation as a credit in the transaction.
The CAA can’t proceed with closing on the property until several conditions are met, including the CAA and city reaching an agreement on the size and location of the property that would be acquired. Other conditions include having a plan to fund the construction of the amphitheater, determining that the project is feasible, and the CAA satisfying adequate pedestrian and transit access around the property.
If the amphitheater project moves forward, the property would still include about 2 acres on the Grand River waterfront.
“This is an exciting step forward as we work on this dream we talked about in our community of having an amphitheater coming to reality,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said during the Feb. 5 CAA board meeting.
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