Joe LaFurgey and 24 Hour News 8 web staff -
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- The city of Grand Rapids is moving forward in the vetting process for one of three development proposals for 201 Market Ave. SW.
The city's evaluation committee is starting a due diligence phase with the plan of Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis, a process that will last four to six months.
That means that for the next four to six months, the committee will dive deeper into Flaherty and Collins proposal to make sure it's doable.
A committee made of representatives from the city, Downtown Development Authority, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and JLL evaluated responses based on their alignment with the community's development vision and feasibility of the project.
Rockford Construction and REDICO, based in Southfield Michigan had also submitted proposals.
"We are not excluding any of the other two proposals. We're keeping them active, because through this due diligence process, we want to make sure were not eliminating any further opportunities," said Kara Wood, the city's Managing Director of Economic Development Services.
Flaherty & Collins' portfolio includes apartment buildings and mixed-use developments in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma.
"This is a really important piece of publicly owned property," Wood said.
The property has made headlines in the past.
The "Mystery Project" was a multimillion-dollar project proposed for the site in 2005.
But it was plagued by secrecy agreements between the city officials and the developer, Duane Faust. In the end, there was never any proof the developer had the means or intentions to pull off such a big project.
City officials say they learned their lesson and this time around, creating measures to ensure there's more input from a number of players in and outside city hall, and more transparency.
The proposal submitted by Flaherty & Collins of Indianapolis follows the recipe for what the city wants on the site.
There is mixed-income residential space, riverfront and green space set aside for the public to enjoy along with room for shops and other retail space.
But when it comes to specifics, like the size cost and renderings of what it may look like, the city is not releasing that information.
Officials say they don't want to show pictures of something that may change as the process moves forward.
"We want to manage the public's expectations of what's possible on the project, and rely on the plans themselves and what the city has developed in terms of a vision for that site," Wood said.
The other big question is where to move the city's public works crews, equipment and facilities that take up nearly 16 acres on the property.
With all the development going on Grand Rapids these days, finding a new site in Grand Rapids is a challenge the city will continue to work on.
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