MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — As Adelaide Pointe co-founder Ryan Leestma waits for a city agreement to begin building his $250 million development, he’s not slowing down.
Ryan Leestma recently reached an agreement with longtime developer Sid Smith to buy nearby Hartshorn Village and Marina for about $1 million now and another $1 million over time. Both developers expect the deal to close within the next month.
The sale will give Adelaide Pointe co-founders Ryan Leestma and Emily Leestma, PhD, approximately 15 acres more along Muskegon Lake to continue developing. Smith said the 10-lot, first phase of Hartshorn Village Marina is finished and the next two phases would add another 44 condominiums to that development. That’s in addition to the public amenities the city has promised for Hartshorn, including dock upgrades, ramp upgrades, a community building and a pool, according to Ryan Leestma.
“I think it’s a one plus one equals three thing. I really do,” Ryan Leestma said of the deal. “Now we can use those amenities for two communities at once.”
Ryan Leestma says Hartshorn also gives them access to the staff and knowledge they will need to get Adelaide Pointe’s 275-slip marina up and running quickly.
Ryan Leestma and Smith say they were working on a mutual agreement for a shared street between Adelaide Pointe and Hartshorn about a month ago when Smith proposed the deal.
“I’m 79 years old. I loved his youth and his development background, and I really don’t have the staff anymore. I’ve been in development for over 50 years, so I just figured it was a good merger, a good marriage and would allow him to really create a positive development for Muskegon and follow what they’ve done downtown and put it in under one roof,” Smith said.
Smith has been developing Hartshorn for about three years. It’s one of numerous projects he’s been involved in over the last several decades, from tens of thousands of housing units to a corporate headquarters in Detroit and Gun Lake Casino in Wayland Township.
“I never count (projects), I just keep doing it,” he said. “I like just bringing people together to make things happen.”
Smith has an informal agreement with the Leestmas to share his advice and experience to make their vision for Adelaide Pointe a reality.
“I see a great deal of Ryan (Leestma) in myself back when I was his age. Good developers can look at something as a whole and see it in their minds. And Ryan does that. He’s got just a great perspective of what that place can look like,” Smith said. “I really want to see this thing go and I think he’s the guy to make it happen.”
The Leestmas are still waiting on permits from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and the development approval from the city to begin the next round of work on Adelaide Pointe. They’ve already revamped boat and RV storage facilities on the 30-acre site on West Western Avenue.
Once complete, Adelaide Pointe will also include a 275-slip marina, 300 condominiums, a restaurant, boat dealership, three public parks and 200-dry slips for rent with in-and-out boat service.
Ryan Leestma says project financing and condominium purchase agreements hinge on the city development agreement, and they need the EGLE permit to start work on the marina, which he hopes to begin no later than October.
“I know the city likes the project and the city believes in the project … (but) this year it’s been a lot of hurry up and waiting. I think we’re getting there, but I can only move as fast as the government will allow me to,” Ryan Leestma said.
Muskegon Economic Development Director Jake Eckholm says the city had approved a development agreement back in October, but the project has since evolved. With the addition of Hartshorn Village and Marina, Eckholm says some language in the city’s development agreement will need to change. He says a land swap would also be needed since a portion of a state-funded bike path would be moving closer to the water.
Eckholm says this project is complex because it is multi-jurisdictional and involves redeveloping a former industrial property. As a Muskegon native, he says he wants the city to take enough time to get it right the first time.
“This is not a simple process. There’s a lot of moving parts,” Eckholm said. “If you want the best outcomes, you do it right one time.”
Eckholm says the city is working on a terms sheet and if all goes well, the Adelaide Pointe development agreement would go to city council for potential approval in late August or September.
“I think we are making good progress,” Eckholm said.
Smith commended Eckholm and recent city leaders for their work in reshaping the former industrialized city.
“There’s no question about it, Muskegon is a turnaround city. And Frank Peterson, the former city manager, was just a huge part of that along with several industrialists and they’ve done just a great job turning that around,” Smith said. “The whole town has just gotten behind it. … It’s just like everybody over there wants Muskegon to renew itself. I think 10 years from now, people will not recognize that shoreline at Muskegon Lake, it’s just going to be gorgeous.”
Smith says Muskegon Lake has potential to be a big tourist destination because of its deep port. He thinks Adelaide Pointe will end up being like the Bay Harbor development is to Petoskey and he’s excited to see it come to fruition.
“I think it’s just great for Muskegon. I think it’s another win for the state of Michigan,” Smith said.