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Convention/Arena Authority approves $24.3M amphitheater land purchase; further study on managing downtown venue

BY Wednesday, March 30, 2022 01:13pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority has approved plans to purchase Grand River waterfront property to develop an amphitheater and also will consider leasing and operating GLC Live at 20 Monroe.

The Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) board of directors voted Wednesday morning to exercise its option to purchase a portion of city-owned land at 201 Market Ave. SW for $24.3 million. The sale must close by June 30, per the option agreement. The Kent County Board of Commissioners approved the sale on March 24 and the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the sale on Tuesday.

While several “hoops to jump through” remain before the land is purchased, the city and county approvals will advance the process, Rich MacKeigan, regional manager of ASM Global, which manages three downtown venues on behalf of the CAA, said during today’s meeting. 

“The conditions that still have to be met are at the CAA’s sole discretion whether they are met or not,” MacKeigan said. “All parties involved are comfortable and confident they will happen.”

The CAA is poised to purchase 11.6 acres of the 16-acre 201 Market property that’s owned by the city of Grand Rapids. The CAA plans to develop about 7 acres for an amphitheater, while the remaining 4 acres will be for parking as part of the estimated $116 million project, MacKeigan said. 

Project construction could start within the next year pending the final sale, he said.

Project funding includes roughly $81 million in donor, state and private investment and $20 million from bonds issued by the city’s Building Authority,

“This is the type of effort that when we look back 50 years from now, people will still be enjoying and reaping the benefits throughout West Michigan,” MacKeigan said. 

The amphitheater would have 6,000 fixed seats and open space for another 6,000 people, creating a total capacity of 12,000. The amphitheater’s orientation on the site is still undetermined as officials ensure it’s acoustically effective, Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said at a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, the city and Grand Action 2.0 have designed a broader 31-acre plan around the amphitheater project that includes conceptual plans for mixed-use development, new riverfront trails and up to 1,200 to 1,700 of mixed-income housing units.

“I do think that this project is truly a catalytic project that is not just going to help redevelop that entire 31-acres, but if you look at that entire area, it will have a huge impact,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “If we’re able to connect the west side, we’ll start to see the synergy between the east and west side of the river.”

Grand Action 2.0, a group of business leaders who have led several large community projects over the years, continues to be involved with the development, MacKeigan said. 

“(Grand Action) has been very involved to date and continues to act in a similar manner that they have with Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place, in that they are working to secure philanthropic dollars, as well as working alongside the other stakeholders for public funding,” MacKeigan said. 

Grand Action 2.0 commissioned a feasibility study from Convention, Sports & Leisure International on potential projects at the 201 Market property, including an amphitheater, which helped launch the project when findings showed the market would support the development.

Based on studies that Grand Action 2.0 has conducted, the amphitheater project would result in a net new economic impact in Kent County of $474 million over the next 30 years, including creating 410 new jobs. 

CAA considers GLC Live at 20 Monroe

The CAA board also voted today to consider leasing the GLC Live at 20 Monroe venue and enter into an operating agreement with the new owner. Gilmore Collection sold the venue in late February for $16.5 million to a buyer listed as GLC GR Live LLC, which is registered to Compound Capital LLC and reportedly linked to Indiana real estate and private equity firm Great Lakes Capital. 

The downtown Grand Rapids music venue opened in 2017. The 2,580-capacity venue is currently managed by Live Nation through its House of Blues Entertainment Division. 

“We would not be replacing Live Nation,” MacKeigan said during the Wednesday CAA Board meeting. “If anything, we are acting on behalf of the ownership group that replaced Gilmore (Collection). This allows us to have a conversation.”

The new venue owner approached the CAA about operating the space, MacKeigan added.

A task force is being assembled to negotiate with the new owners of the venue about the CAA’s potential involvement, CAA Board Chair Richard Winn said.

Read 675 times Last modified on Wednesday, 30 March 2022 13:23
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