Proposed $30M downtown Grand Rapids market far from sealed and delivered, but moving forward

Deborah Johnson Wood

The development of a proposed $30 million year-round urban market for downtown Grand Rapids is far from sealed and delivered, but the group behind the idea says the project is closer to being signed.

The proposed project would convert six historic buildings on Ionia Avenue SW between Wealthy and Logan streets into a 178,000-square-foot mixed-use marketplace. A March 2010 public document, Grand Rapids Urban Market: Background Information, states the initial concept envisions restaurants, indoor vendor stalls for independent owner-operated businesses selling fresh produce, baked goods, cheeses and meats, and a leasable commercial kitchen incubator space.

David Frey, co-chair of Grand Action with John Canepa and Dick DeVos, the group that spearheaded the development of the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place, says architects are drawing up preliminary plans while crews are busy cleaning up the property.

The Downtown Development Authority owns the property, the site of the old Sonneveldt Produce Company. Frey says it "will probably be owned by a newly created nonprofit entity, but it's still in negotiation. There are no guarantees (for development of the market)."

Frey estimates the project at $27 million, plus an estimated $3 million for the 3.5-acre parcel.

"Engineers are determining if the buildings are structurally sound," says Frey. "If you drive by this week you'll see that crews are cleaning up the site so we can see what we have to deal with."

"We not only have to design a great facility we can afford to build and run, but we have to be sure the surrounding area is developed with activities compatible with an urban market and not have a contrary purpose or intent," Frey says. "The nearby Kingman's and Baker Furniture buildings would have to be developed in an architecturally- and content-compatible manner."

Grand Action hired Design Plus and urban market design expert Hugh Boyd of Montclair, N.J. for the project.

Frey expects to see the architects' design concept in early September.

Source: David Frey, Grand Action

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected] Development News tips can be sent to [email protected]
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