MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Construction is about to officially begin on a $120 million redevelopment along Muskegon Lake.
Thursday, state and city leaders joined developers and stakeholders in breaking ground on Harbor 31 at 650 Terrace St., just north of Shoreline Drive.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t tear up on the way here because I’ve been involved in this project 15 years,” said Harbor 31 LLC partner Dan Henrickson. “It takes a lot to hold onto something that long. You don’t know where the future’s going to be, and to be able to hold onto something that long and keep feeding it… (to) pay the property taxes, pay the assessments, all those kind of things, takes a lot of work and it takes a lot out of you.”
“We’re at that point now where we’re moving forward. So hopefully I’ll forget the pain is associated with that,” he added.
The development has been 22 years in the making, starting with the creation of the Edison Landing Smart Zone. Muskegon Mayor Ken Johnson said he was attending college in Washington, D.C. when he first heard the plans for the Edison Landing Smart Zone in his hometown.
“I was excited. I was like, ‘Oh look! Look at Muskegon!’ I was like, ‘I may have a reason to come back to Muskegon’ because at the time, freshman year of college, my mother was like ‘You got out of Muskegon… stay away.’ She was of a generation that saw Muskegon’s best years being behind us and not enough opportunity for the next generation. And so I’m glad that that’s not the case and we have plenty of opportunities for folks to move here, enjoy here, invest here and work here,” Johnson said.
HARBOR 31 HOLDUPS
The future home of Harbor 31 “has been instrumental for Muskegon,” according to Henrickson. The 31-acre property was previously home to Teledyne Continental Motors which made engines for tanks and aircraft during World War II.
Teledyne Continental Motors closed the facility in 1991 and site cleanup began shortly thereafter.
The property was previously envisioned as the site for a tribal casino, but that proposal fell through. Then Henrickson came in with Harbor 31.
“It’s a big project and it’s a site that’s needed development for a long time. I know a lot of people said, ‘Hey, what’s going on over there? Why is that not developing?’” Henrickson said.
Environmental issues are partly to blame. Henrickson says the development team spent the last year obtaining Brownfield approvals for cleaning up the former industrial grounds and permits for relocating wetlands that formed in 2017 when the water table rose. Henrickson credits Republican Sen. Jon Bumstead of Newaygo and his team, as well as Muskegon city leaders for helping them through the process.
“We’re excited, excited to be here today. It’s been a long journey… we’re excited about the future. We have high hopes and great plans, we’ve got a team assembled with the Harbor 31 group that is very capable of doing that and getting it done,” Henrickson said Thursday.
Bumstead said the $120 million-plus project would be transformational for Muskegon.
“I have no doubt that this project will have a significant effect on bringing more opportunities to our community of Muskegon,” Bumstead said. “It may have been a long road to get here, but it’s only the beginning of more positive changes for Muskegon and our lakeshore.”
HOW THE PLANS HAVE CHANGED
Construction is already underway on one part of Harbor 31: Viridian Shores. Crews have completed the first of the five single-family homes they’ve sold so far. A second home is under construction and Henrickson expects contractors to soon start work on the three other townhomes.
“(Viridian Shores is a) very interesting, very contemporary design,” Henrickson said. “The units along the water are literally 25 feet from the water’s edge, right on the boardwalk.”
Henrickson says since he detailed the project with News 8 last year, the development team has added rooftop decks to the plans for Viridian Shores’ homes. The neighborhood will also include a community pool in addition to being steps away from all the other Harbor 31 features.
Ones the lakeshore homes are finished, contractors will focus on building the inland homes of Viridian Shores then Harbor Commons apartments, which will also include 8,000 square-feet for retail use.
“We actually had a lot more retail (space) early on, but retail demand has shrunk a little bit here and everywhere. So we actually have more garden-type apartments on the first floor. They’ll have… (their) own parking. And so that’s the next step. And then we’ll see what the market says after that,” Henrickson said.
Altogether, Harbor 31 will be home to approximately 215 market-rate apartments and townhouses. The prices for those homes have also changed. Henrickson says the cost to build Viridian Shores homes is adjusted every two weeks. Right now, the subsequent price for a townhouse along the lake is around $600,000 because “the cost of everything is higher.”
“Obviously everything now is, ‘Oh, it’s a little more, it’s a little more,’ but we’re hoping that neutralizes or can come down. I have hopes for that,” Henrickson said. “So yeah, the price has gone up and I think that’s where we’re going to level out at for a while… but the market is accepting that and sales are strong.”
THE NEXT PROJECT
Contractors are also smoothing out the land for Trilogy Health Services’ new senior living community.
“It’s just wonderful to see that (site work). I love the sound of the dozers backing up and I love the sound of that equipment coming through and moving,” Henrickson said.
The $25 million Trilogy campus will include 25 independent living apartments, 23 assisted living, as well as memory care and post-acute health care services. The project is expected to create over 200 temporary construction jobs and more than 125 permanent jobs when the campus opens.
“Trilogy Health Services is excited to be a part of the momentum happening in downtown Muskegon. Not only will our future residents have access to the quality care and distinctive lifestyle Trilogy is known for, but they will also be able to enjoy waterfront living and all the amenities of Harbor 31’s gorgeous location,” Trilogy Health Services President and CEO Leigh Ann Barney stated.
The foundation for the 105-bed facility is expected to go in in the next six to eight weeks, according to Henrickson. If all goes well, Trilogy Health Services will open the new community in fall 2023.
STILL TO COME
Harbor 31 will also include a hotel, an office or ministorage site, a restaurant, boat rental facility and 90 marina slips.
Henrickson is hopeful the entire development will be complete in four to five years.
“I’m so fortunate to be here today, to be able to say, ‘Hey, we’re getting started.’ We got a long ways to go. You know, we’ve got to get these projects to happen, so we’re really just starting this process,” he said.
“It’s been a considerable undertaking and it’s thrilling to see this moment. And more excitingly will be when all this is built in the next few years and folks can live here, recreate here, work here, eat here, shop here and enjoy themselves along our beautiful and restored Muskegon Lake,” Johnson added.