GR City Commission moves forward on riverfront amphitheater

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It has been the source of speculation for over a decade.

What is the best way to redevelop the riverfront site, now home to the Grand Rapids Public Works Department and a city office building, into a site that takes advantage of the Grand River and benefits the public?

A 10,000-plus seat amphitheater is one step closer to ending that speculation.

Tuesday, Grand Rapids city commissioners approved an option from the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau to buy over 11 of the 17-and-a-half-acre site for that project.

“In all, up to 11.6 acres could be transferred to them through sale. And that the final amount depends on the alignment of the amphitheater and what they need for development of the property,” Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong told city commissioners Tuesday.

But the project could benefit more than concertgoers and downtown businesses. The price tag on the site is $24.5 million.

The CAA would put $10 million down, with the remaining $14.5 million paid in installments over a span of years.

The city put a purchase option on the current Kent County Road Commission site on Scribner Avenue near Turner Avenue NW last year for $7.7 million.

The site already has buildings and other facilities needed to house public works, reducing the overall cost of the move.

A yet to be determined portion of the down payments and installment payments would be placed in a fund that supports creating affordable housing.

“Upon the sale of both the portion that will go to the CAA and the future sale of some of the additional property, we will be able to fund more adequately the community investment fund,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington.

Creating more affordable housing is among the major items in the city’s efforts to create more equity for residents. But don’t expect to get in line for tickets at the venue anytime soon.

Tuesday’s agreement with the CAA is one step in a long process.

Things like cost estimates and a timetable for the amphitheater still must be determined.

Nearly six acres of the 201 Market Ave. SW site is still up for sale.

The city has been trying to attract large developers to the site, with limited success, for years.

There’s also been talk by Grand Action about developing a major league soccer stadium in or near the 201 Market location.

Private development remains an essential element of the overall plan for 201 Market, according to DeLong.

But how it will be marketed remains to be determined.

But Tuesday’s decision puts the amphitheater one step closer to reality.

“There’s a lot of work left to do. This is another step in a long process,” DeLong said.

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