Kent Co. Road Commission to relocate to Walker, paving way for 201 Market project COURTESY IMAGE

Kent Co. Road Commission to relocate to Walker, paving way for 201 Market project

BY Friday, December 04, 2020 05:55am

WALKER — Another piece of the puzzle fell into place this week that opens the potential development of a downtown Grand Rapids riverfront amphitheater.

The city of Walker’s Planning Commission approved a site plan for the first phase of the Kent County Road Commission’s plan to move its Central Complex facility to 1900 4 Mile Road NW. The 29-acre parcel will be the future headquarters of the road commission, which is now located at 1500 Scribner Ave. NW in the city of Grand Rapids. 

“This helps support the growing infrastructure needs of that area because we have great partnerships with both the state and county already,” Walker Mayor Gary Carey told MiBiz. “The industrial corridor we have in that area, all of those business parks are perfectly aligned with the growth of that area and road connections we’ve made.”

The Scribner Avenue property plays a key role in the city’s plan to prepare its property at 201 Market Ave. SW for redevelopment, including a 14,000-seat amphitheater. The city-owned Market Avenue property houses city public works facilities, which would move to the Road Commission’s Scribner Avenue site with more than 130,000 square feet of building space.

The Kent County Road Commission approved a one-year option in January 2020 for Grand Rapids to purchase the central complex on Scribner Avenue. 

If the city moves forward with taking over the 14.2 acre property, it will have to do so for a negotiated price of $7.75 million no later than September 2022. 

“This is an encouraging step forward in the complex relocation process involving our two organizations.  We still have work to do, but this is an important milestone,” Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said in a statement to MiBiz.

The Road Commission’s relocation is one of several necessary steps before an amphitheater is built. The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and the Grand Rapids City Commission entered into a memorandum of understanding along with two private entities for a cost-sharing project to move a trunk sewer from under the 201 Market site that has impeded development of the property. The city’s move to Scribner Avenue would likely kick off the sewer relocation project.

The collaborative agreement also opened discussions over the city selling about two-thirds of the 15.8-acre Market Avenue property to the Convention/Arena Authority to construct the venue along with a parking lot. The option agreement over the property sale will be determined by the end of the month.

If the Convention/Arena Authority backs out of developing the amphitheater on the city-owned property, it would be reimbursed by the city for its $5 million portion to move the trunk sewer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from the city of Grand Rapids.

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