Absolute Michigan's Michigan Blog
Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Grand Rapids Mystery Development

Updated March 25, 2006

WOOD TV-8 Grand Rapids has extensive coverage (with lots of visuals) of the "Mystery Development" in Grand Rapids on 30 acres near the Grand River that is rumored to be a $2 billion project with the potential to add 10,000 jobs. Among the articles:

An Atlanta PR firm has been hired for the project ... the developers are also looking at a local public relations firm to represent them.

A look at the impact of 10,000 new jobs on the city of Grand Rapids ... According to Brian Walters of the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information: "Obviously, it depends on the skills required, but "I just don't think the Grand Rapids area could fulfill the demand if the employer is looking to fill high-skilled jobs. The company would likely have to hire people outside the area."

Neither Jennifer Granholm nor Dick DeVos seem to have any idea what the jobs might be ... not an October Surprise then?

At least three properties have yet to sign on to sales agreements ... which is why the shadowy developers sought to keep the whole thing secret in the first place.

While property owners don't know exactly what the project is, they were told it involves entertainment, there is only one other like it, and that there is a better than 50-percent chance it will be built on the banks of the river.

WOOD also profiles the development team and the sellers. Of interest is the fact that Atlanta-based lawyer David Minkin, a leading real estate attorney, who represents developers of hotels, shopping centers, office and residential complexes is a member, perhaps giving credence to the rumor that a Mall of America is coming.

Although the Mall of America employs 11,000 year-round, 13,000 during summers and holidays, we're hoping for something cooler.

We found an article by Media Mouse talking about how the mystery development changed the plans of Mark London and his proposed Showgirl Galleria development in Grand Rapids. According to this article from WOOD-TV:
We know Mark London, the owner of a controversial proposed nude dance club on Market Avenue, has reached a deal with the developer. He has agreed to sell his property without opening his adult entertainment business there.

As of March 21 we are told that no deal has been reached on the adult club land. London made a deal with representatives of the developer on March 9. It’s a 15-day option to buy the property, and an additional $20,000 a day to cover the added cost of construction while London waits to find out if in fact the developer will exercise the option.

We also know the owner of the Intersection Nightclub, Joel Langlois, has a signed agreement as well. These two properties are the centerpieces of the deal.

Langlois says it's his understanding the developers have secured enough property to make this happen. He told 24 Hour News 8 the uniqueness of this project will put Grand Rapids on the international map. It will also help people view the city in a new way.

Langlois told us the city's identity could go from the "Furniture City" to something else. An update from WOOD TV furthers this with the story: IKEA not part of mystery development.

24 Hour News 8's Suzanne Geha talks with real estate agent Deborah Shurlow about the project. In the video/interview it is stated that the project is not a casino and having some type of waterfront was in the requirements of the developer.

WOOD TV March 21: The Grand Rapids City Commission approved the listing of the city-owned 15.8 acre parcel of riverfront property situated in the heart of downtown. The property, 201 Market Avenue, is listed for $35 million.

A very interesting read couresty of DetroitMan via the Grand Rapids Business Journal Express. Talk of high-rise buildings, public access to the river, with possibly a marina or kayak park with not much potential for commercial office space, unless a large company opted to relocate its corporate headquarters there. (Can you say... Googleplex? Check out this piece from the Ann Arbor Business Review on mLive.com)

Here's another article from wzzm13.com from June 2005 about Google's intention to put a Googleplex in Ann Arbor. According to the article:
"We do know a broker representing Google was in town looking for space about three weeks ago," said Chris Martin, vice president for First Martin Corp., an Ann Arbor-based real estate development firm.

"It will be very difficult to find research and technology space in large quantities near U of M, because that area has few vacancies, but there are options nearby."

A real estate survey called the Feldman Report notes Ann Arbor has an 88 percent occupancy rate, one of the highest in the region.

brah.blog has a nicely written piece that supports the 'Googling of Grand Rapids' titled Is Grand Rapids booming?

What can a developer build for 1-2 billion dollars watch this vid at woodtv.com to get an idea.

WOOD TV is reporting the project is related to the music and entertaintment industry and the developer will be making a statement on March 23rd. Could it be something like this place?

The Grand Rapids Press reports that strip club owner Mark London has not heard from the "mystery" buyer or agent, but will show up at a title office today ready to sell his property at 234 Market Ave. SW.

WOOD TV reports that a sale of property can occur without identifying the name of the developer. A straw man or a straw company – a third party - can be used.

WOOD TV reports that the buyer for 'Mystery Development' did not show at the closing for Mark London's strip club property and is asking for more time.

According to WZZM TV Mark London does not expect to sell downtown property.

The Grand Rapids Press is reporting that Mark London said today he will open a strip club in his building southwest of downtown May 1 because mystery developers failed to meet his March 23 deadline to close on a sale. The announcement casts doubt on the future of the "mystery" project.

WOOD TV reports the mystery developer behind a proposed multi-billion dollar project met with Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell today. (We are waiting patiently for some positive news.)

WZZM TV reports that the city is blaming Mark London for refusing to sign a confidentiality agreement. Mayor George Heartwell says the developer plans to continue negotiating for the property because they want to build in Grand Rapids.

Read the Mystery Development Confidentiality Agreement via WOOD TV

The Grand Rapids Press reports that fans of radio station WSNX-FM (104.5) and new morning host Justin "Puddin" Barclay thought they were getting a scoop Thursday morning when the host interviewed a guest regarding the downtown development "mystery project."

Announcement soon? WOOD TV has learned from a source close to the developer an announcement about the mystery development will be made in the next few weeks.

Via urbanplanet.org This link contains all of the final METROPOLITAN CENTER materials that were presented to Mayor George Heartwell on May 13, 2005 including the FINAL REPORT text, the Press Release text and the Concept Renderings
"Please note that as of the May 7, 2005 MBEI Board of Directors Meeting, the Metro Center Steering Committee was directed by the Board to defer contacting Mr. Donald Trump and other world-class developers until the Committee has been reconstituted as the Committee for the Planning of a World-Class Downtown. It is their concern that the connection to Trump and the others not be used until the new Committee completes its next development concept - one that will not be so far down the process timeline of the City like the current Fulton/Division project is."
From WOOD TV - View the April 2005 document that outlines preliminary plans for the Mystery Development.

What do YOU think it is?? Post below!

# posted by farlane @ 10:17 AM
# posted by Anonymous GR BOB : 7:54 AM  
While I agree that GR has what Google needs, and Google would be absolutely fantastic for GR, I think it will be a big commerical zone...malls, food, music etc.

Ah well.
# posted by Blogger brah.john : 11:11 PM  
I do wish it would be Google, or something innovative. It does look like "San Antonio Riverwalk Midwest" is what GR will be getting.

I am still hoping, however, that there will be something innovative about it.
# posted by Blogger farlane : 6:03 AM  
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