Arena Place unveils $28M residential, restaurant, retail, office complex near Van Andel Arena

The Arena South Visioning Plan is becoming reality. On Tuesday night, Orion Construction and Hanon McKendry unveiled plans to build a $28 million retail, residential, and office building on the west side of the Van Andel Arena, next to Bistro Bella Vita. The project is the first in the Arena South geographic area, an underdeveloped economic area that extends south of the arena to Logan St. SW.

The new development, called Arena Place, will run the length of a full city block on property that is now underused surface parking. The project runs south from Ottawa Avenue and Weston St. SW to Oakes St. SW, and consists of two five-level towers connected by 7,700 square feet of retail spaces for small shops.

The north tower will feature a first floor restaurant space with Class A office spaces on the second, third, and fourth floors, topped off by a fifth floor event venue. The south tower features 64 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments and 12 condominiums.  

The anchor tenants announced Tuesday are Hanon McKendry and Mindscape at Hanon McKendry, each of which will occupy a full floor. Meritage Hospitality Group, owner of 119 restaurants in several states, including Twisted Rooster and Crooked Goose, affirmed that it's evaluating the development as a possible opportunity to open a downtown Grand Rapids restaurant.

Besides being LEED certified and energy efficient, Arena Place will offer secure underground parking for all tenants, double banks of elevators for quick access to offices and residences, catering by the restaurant, recycling and garbage chutes, and innovative holding kitchens for refrigerator/freezer storage of food deliveries from entities such as or the nearby Downtown Market.

The retail shops will be selected with an eye to providing tenants with everything they need, including dry cleaning, a coffee shop, wine and sundries, and other essentials.

"This, to me, is the crowning jewel of everything I've worked for in this town since 1987 when I started Rockford Construction," says John Wheeler, Orion's director of business development and a partner in Arena Place Development. "We'll be creating a lot of jobs [and] a lot of tax base on a surface parking lot. We've been working very hard to compete with the guys in Chicago who attract our young talent who want to live someplace really cool and want to walk and bike everywhere."

Bill McKendry, founder and chief creative officer at Hanon McKendry, echoes Wheeler's enthusiasm. "[Hanon McKendry has] deep roots in Heartside and Arena South. Our history as tenants in this area dates back to 1989 -- well before the arena was built -- so it makes sense that this would be home to our first venture as a partner in a building project. It's going to be very gratifying to partner on a project that will continue the renewal and transformation of this neighborhood in the years ahead."

The project could break ground in December 2013 and open in spring 2015.

Architect: Concept Design
Construction manager: Orion Construction

Source: John Wheeler, Orion Construction; Hanon McKendry
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Concept Design Group
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