WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Developers’ new plans for Walker’s former DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center are moving forward.
Wednesday evening, the Walker Planning Commission voted to recommend city commissioners rezone the former event space and home of the Grand Rapids Gold to allow industrial planned unit development. Planning commissioners also approved a preliminary site plan for the first phase of the project, called Turner North.
Visser Brothers, Inc. bought the 18.85-acre property near the corner of Turner Avenue West River Drive NW late last year for $5.5 million, county and state records show.
“We thought this was a great site. We’re trying to think a little bit out of the box just because there’s not a lot of vacant land anymore, especially in Walker which is a city we love to work in and people, businesses love to be here. We love to develop. So this site kind of came to mind. We thought, there’s a big parking lot on there that could have a building on it someday and we can fill the existing building with some tenants and it could be a good project,” said Greg Bol with Visser Brothers/DEG Development.
In the project’s first phase, Visser Brothers plans to renovate the DeltaPlex into three tenant suites, and outside storage for one tenant, add landscaping and more sidewalks, reconfigure the parking lot and eliminate a “driveway approach to nowhere” off West River Drive, planning commission documents show.
Bol said phase 1 work inside the building is “not really that involved” beyond securing doors between each tenant space.
Bol said the largest tenant would get new front loading docks. Bol did not disclose who that tenant may be, but said a business that distributes pumps and PVC pipes plans to move from one of Visser Brothers’ other properties into the back portion of the building.
Phase 2 of the project includes building a new industrial facility that’s up to 165,000 square feet and adding parking, truck docking and maneuvering areas to the western portion of the property where the current DeltaPlex parking lot sits. Bol estimates that stage of work would start in about two years, but is “just going to depend on the economy and the demand.”
“We thought our development on Northridge, you know, where Amazon and everything was going to take us about 10 years and it took us three (years) to fill it up. So, you never know. But we perceive that to be a couple years down the road before we build there,” Bol told planning commissioners.
A city planner pointed out the updates fall in line with the city of Walker’s master plan vision for the area, which would be industrial use. The city planner pointed out some of the proposed upgrades are advantageous to the city, including filling in sidewalk gaps around the property and landscaping to block some building views.
Bol said when the second phase of development starts, Visser Development has “no issues” with the planning commission’s recommendation to connect the driveway between both buildings to support traffic flow.
While the preliminary site plan has been approved by the planning commission, Turner North developers cannot act on it until the city commission approves rezoning the site, which would take at least two meetings. The planning commission is scheduled to consider the final site plan for the first phase of the Turner North project during its July 20 meeting.
In an April memo, DeltaPlex President Joel Langlois announced the arena would shut down July 31. The DeltaPlex currently has events scheduled until July 9.