MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Most of the time, road detours are just an annoyance. But in some cases, they’re sign of progress. That’s the case in Muskegon.
Work is underway on the city’s multimillion-dollar convention center.
Ground was broken on the project this spring. Now, barricades closing 4th Street between Shoreline Drive and Western Avenue are the latest indication that the project is on the move.
So is the business climate in the neighborhood. There’s a sweet smell along Western Avenue near the L.C. Walker Arena: It’s barbecue, and it’s coming from Dr. Rolf’s Barbeque, which opened up six months ago and is enjoying good business.
The barricades across the street from the restaurant are an indication that when the convention center opens up in early 2021s, things will get even better.
“Brings in people brings in events. Also, the catering opportunities,” Dr. Rolf’s manager Geoffrey Hissom said.
The convention center opens is expected to pump an additional $10.6 million into Muskegon’s economy every year.
“I’m excited for them to start working on it. It’s probably going to take a while, but I think it’s going to be worth it,” Hissom said.
The $17 million, 45,000-square-foot convention center is part of an overall $26 million public-private investment. It will be built across 4th Street, linking the arena with the remodeled and rebranded Delta by Marriott Hotel.
It’s been a long time coming. There was talk of a new convention center in the late 1980s, but a 2002 feasibility study indicated there just wasn’t enough convention business to support a plan. That study was revisited in 2014 and the numbers had changed in favor of the idea.
The changes are already happening. Western Avenue is a far different street than it was just a few years ago, with new restaurants, bars and other businesses filling up storefronts.
“I live above the restaurant,” Hissom said. “There’s always people out (with) Party in the Park and Bike Time and all the other events that happen around here.”