GrandWalk’s Avastar Park brings 200 jobs, revitalizes vacant GM Plant

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Last Monday, elected officials, business leaders and economic development leaders celebrated the flourishing development called Avastar Park, a major revitalization of the 750,000-square-foot former General Motors manufacturing plant at 2150 Alpine Avenue in Walker.

The renovation of the plant established space for three manufacturers—Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping, Haviland Enterprises, and Amstore—to launch new endeavors, creating 200 new jobs.

Avastar Park is the largest parcel in the 1,200-acre comprehensive land redevelopment project known as GrandWalk. In 2006, after receiving a Renaissance Zone designation and a $1 million Brownfield Tax Incentive, the abandoned building and accompanying 45 acres was marketable; Alpinist Endeavors, LLC puchased it and invested $15 million in the building renovation.

“To me this is the cornerstone of the redevelopment of GrandWalk,” says Rick Chapla of The Right Place, one of the key players in the development of GrandWalk along with the City of Grand Rapids and the City of Walker. “The community knows what the ‘GM plant on Alpine’ is, and to know that a property this size is being redeveloped is a critical psychological win.”

Among the dignitaries attending the open house were James Epolito, MEDC’s CEO, and Amy Butler, chief of environmental science for the MDEQ.

“They both showed up to see what can be done with these old, expansive manufacturing plants,” Chapla says. “The converse is that around the state we’ve had former automobile plants of this scale that have not experienced this redevelopment, and we could have more of them coming. This redevelopment is big, and it’s in the urban core, it's not a greenfield.”

Chapla says that next steps are redeveloping the surrounding acreage and marketing that to potential investors.

Source: Rick Chapla, Right Place, Inc.

Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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