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Developers unveil details for $250M, 30-acre Muskegon lakefront site COURTESY RENDERING

Developers unveil details for $250M, 30-acre Muskegon lakefront site

BY Thursday, August 19, 2021 10:28am

MUSKEGON — Luxury condos, a marina, restaurant, event space and expanded public trails are part of a $250 million vision to transform 30 acres of Muskegon waterfront property.

Developer Ryan Leestma and his wife, Emily Leestma, unveiled details of their plans for the Adelaide Point project on Wednesday alongside their development team, city officials and environmental advocates. 

Leestma learned about the property in 2020, and bought several parcels of land along West Western Avenue in Muskegon in March 2021 for about $5.5 million total, he said. Doing business as Adelaide Pointe QOZB LLC, Leestma acquired the properties from Kirksey Investment Corp. and Shipyard Properties LLC.

“Muskegon is one of the last waterfront areas to really redevelop,” Leestma said during a press conference. “Muskegon is finally getting its time in the sun.”

A key aspect of the project is doubling the size of public access to the site by expanding trails and greenspace, Leestma said. He hopes to add trails that will connect the site to the downtown Muskegon trail system and expand fishing areas, add outdoor grills, campfires and gazebos on the property. Leestma plans to introduce formal plans soon that will be subject to city commission approval.

In the next two years, the goal is to construct one of the five residential buildings planned on the site, which will be a luxury condominium building with 55 units, as well as a marina and multi-use building that contains a restaurant, retail space and event space.

Plans for the marina include 200 dry slips and 72 transient slips, as well as 165,000 square feet of stacked winter boat storage. The marina would be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant and offer kayak and paddle boat rentals.

“I commend Emily and Ryan for taking on a project like this and having a vision that is so community focused and keeping those public things public,” said Donna Barnett, a commercial real estate broker who’s working to bring a restaurant to the site. 

“Our real estate team is also looking at the feasibility of also adding a hotel,” Barnett said. “We’re starting that process and have some hotel and hospitality developers that we’ve worked with in the past to potentially bring a new hotel to Muskegon.”

The condominium building will be a six-story building constructed with mass timber, which is considered a more sustainable and low-carbon-footprint method of construction. The structure will provide lakefront views, private terraces, vehicle parking, 72 bike parking spaces, and a shared pool. Price points range from $599,000-$949,000.

“We love having public access and community activity, but have struggled to be attractive to people with higher incomes,” said Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson. “We’re excited to step into that market right now and kind of on a big scale.”

Overarching plans for the development include adding an additional five residential buildings that will likely contain about 220 more condo units and 200-250 apartment units or hotel rooms. There is also space for three more commercial buildings on the south side of the property.

Site cleanup

The former site of West Michigan Steel is now mostly empty aside from some boat storage. Industrial uses over the years caused “huge upfront capital costs” for redeveloping the land, said Greg Weykamp, president of St. Joseph-based Edgewater Resources LLC who is serving as the site and marina architect and designer. 

The developers will seek assistance through brownfield incentives as well as other state grants and loans, Weykamp said.
“All those pieces are essential in pushing this project forward,” Weykamp said. 

Leestma is working with the city of Muskegon and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to apply for a $1.5 million grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to start financing the marina portion of the project. He expects to learn by next September whether Adelaide Pointe is awarded the grant. If successful in getting the funding, dredging and rock-laying could begin at the end of 2022, and a floating dock could be installed in 2023, Leestma said.

“My philosophy has always been to play to win,” Leestma said. “Nothing ever goes exactly as well as you would like, but play as aggressively as possible to keep the timeline going. Right now, it’s a 10-year plan.”

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