MUSKEGON — A local developer’s $250 million plan to redevelop 30 acres of lakefront property on Muskegon Lake cleared another hurdle in the approval process.
The Muskegon City Commission approved a cooperative use agreement for the Adelaide Pointe project at its Sept. 13 meeting. The developers of the Adelaide Pointe project are husband and wife team, Ryan and Emily Leestma, doing business as Adelaide Pointe Qozb LLC.
The Leestmas first announced plans in August 2021 for Adelaide Pointe, which includes building luxury condos, a marina, restaurant, retail, an event venue and expanding trailway and public access along the shoreline.
The city previously approved a development agreement for the project in October 2021, but developers changed the plans slightly, requiring an updated cooperative use agreement for construction to begin. The developers made a couple of small changes to the development agreement based on public and commissioner comments about the plan during a special meeting on Sept. 12. Changes included clarifying that Adelaide Pointe would not have exclusive use of the city-owned property that is part of the project site, but it will be able to use the property to operate its boat launch and docking facilities.
The project now must receive approval from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Environment. EGLE is accepting public comment on the plan through Sept. 20.
“This agreement outlines how we’re going to share property and make some of the private property public,” Interim Muskegon City Manager LeighAnn Mikesell said. “There will be additional steps after this that will be more about the brownfield agreement, then we’ll (approve) the project in phases and bring to you one phase at a time.”
A couple community members expressed concern during the meeting that the project would have a negative effect on the environment, potentially reversing decades of remediation work to delist the Muskegon Lake as an Area of Concern with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“With transparency and a willingness to be transparent, which I think I’ve shown, I think we can make sure to keep everybody calm and do something that’s transformative and beneficial for the city,” Ryan Leestma told commissioners during the meeting.
Leestma explained that the marina portion of the project would require dredging into the lake basin, but the team would remove invasive species of plants in the process and replant the area with native species.
“What we are removing from the bottom is foundry sand,” Leestma said. “It’s not historic bottom sand, it’s a byproduct of the industrial process. Nothing of high nutritional value can grow down there right now. I am voluntarily planting native species on the bottom lands and sinking logs and things that will help native species and fish live there.”
The site plan also calls for cleaning up the wetland areas on the peninsulas of the property to the tune of $1.5 million, which will involve adding in native species, Leestma said.
“What happened in the past is people did what they wanted to benefit their pocketbook at the expense of the environment and at the expense of the people, and we all know that doesn’t work,” Leestma said. “There is no dichotomy between doing the right thing for the public and the environment and making money. I absolutely think we can do all these things.”
The city is planning to hold a public forum to discuss the Adelaide Pointe project and other developments that are starting to gain steam in the area, said Muskegon Director of Development Services Jake Eckholm.
“I plan on working with various community groups,” Eckholm said. “There is a lot of room to have a concerted public engagement effort at this point.”