The red lines mark the 14.2-acre site owned by the Kent County Road Commission, which is seeking bids for the property. The red lines mark the 14.2-acre site owned by the Kent County Road Commission, which is seeking bids for the property. COURTESY IMAGE

Kent County Road Commission seeks bids for riverfront property

BY Thursday, December 20, 2018 10:48am

GRAND RAPIDS — The public body that owns a 14.2-acre “opportunity site” along the Grand River is seeking bids on the property for a possible sale.

The Kent County Road Commission has released a notice of sale for its Central Complex property located at 1500 Scribner Ave. The property, just north of Webster Street and adjacent to US-131, includes more than 130,000 square feet of building space.

According to a statement, the road commission has known for some time that it would need to relocate to a larger property to expand operations, as the current site is bordered by two city streets, a railroad and the Grand River. The road commission in 2016 purchased a 29-acre parcel at the Walkerview Industrial Park in Walker for a possible expansion.

“We need to expand the operational site of what we do here at the central complex,” Steve Warren, managing director of the road commission, told MiBiz. “We need a larger garage area to support the equipment we own and will own. There’s no room for expansion here.”

The Scribner property has been identified as an “opportunity site” for redevelopment under GR Forward, a 10-year community plan and investment strategy for downtown Grand Rapids and the Grand River corridor. The road commission has recognized its industrial-type operations might no longer be the “highest and best use” along the river corridor. The large parcel has 1,000 feet of frontage on the river.

The site is also adjacent to areas of the city where new zoning regulations could permit medical marijuana businesses. Since opting to allow medical marijuana businesses in July, the city has seen a wave of development interest that drove up real estate prices. The city will begin accepting applications next year for medical marijuana licensing.

“We’re not making any decision based on what we think the future use of this property will be,” he said. “We have a responsibility as a transportation agency to be responsible for the transportation demand in Kent County. We’re not looking to control this site in terms of what might happen in the future.”

He said the road commission “needs to be responsive” to discussions about the river corridor.

“As a public entity, we must be responsive to the evolving needs of our transportation network as well as the changing dynamics of the river corridor,” Mark Rambo, board chair of the road commission, said in a statement.

In the notice of sale, the road commission board said it has no plans to work with a real estate broker to market the site. As well, the board said it had already “engaged in preliminary discussions with some potential buyers of the property.”

The road commission will accept sealed bids for the four parcels through Feb. 28, 2019. 

If it decides to accept an offer, the road commission will finalize designs of its new building and begin construction, a process Warren imagines will take about two years.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from Steve Warren and to add more details about the site. 

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