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Crain's Grand Rapids Business Brief

Crain's Grand Rapids Business

Crain’s Grand Rapids Business senior writer Mark Sanchez discusses Grand Rapids' amphitheater and soccer stadium construction spinoff including two potential high-rise housing projects, and Amway's plan for a major expansion in Ada.

Mark Sanchez: This is a big-time expansion for this homegrown hometown company, Amway, that's helped build Grand Rapids for a long time. It's a $127.6 million expansion in Ada that's going to create 260 jobs that pay very, very well. It's going to have about a 48,000 square foot renovation of unused space at the Spaulding Plaza facility in Ada. That's going to manufacture some nutritional tablets for Amway. Then Amway is also going to create a kind of an innovation and science facility on the main campus there on Fulton Street and about an 18,750 square foot addition, and that will support nutrition research and development for Amway. And it's closing a facility in Southern California and then moving that work back to its hometown here in Ada. It's a project that they said at the Michigan Strategic Fund Board meeting on Tuesday that they've been working on since last summer. And the Strategic Fund Board approved a $2 million performance-based grant to help Amway and Alticor offset some of the higher costs of expanding in the state rather than doing it at another location. Amway says they're going to be hiring these 260 positions over the next two and a half years. Has already begun that process. Has already started transferring some folks from Southern California over to Michigan. So, it's again, it's big company that's been here for a long time, helped to grow this town and it's putting a big investment into its hometown.

Patrick Center: How soon before they begin breaking ground on this and when does Alticor expect this to wrap up?

Mark Sanchez: It really didn't go into that at the strategic fund board meeting and some of the details they released, but they did say that they expect to fully close that facility in Southern California by the end of 2026. So, some would think that that's going to kind of somewhat coincide with the timeline and when they want to get this project done.

Patrick Center: Speaking of projects and groundbreaking and timelines, the amphitheater and soccer stadium, we know that these are moving forward and already we're beginning to see some economic spin-off or potential spin-off including housing.

Mark Sanchez: Yeah, these are two big projects, the amphitheater to the south side of downtown and then the soccer stadium right there on the west side along US-131, across from the Burger King, next to the Y. And you're right, we're now seeing some, for the first time, some proposals for peripheral development, spinoff development in that neighborhood. In this case, we're talking about nearly 750 apartments that could be included in the high-rise towers surrounding the Acrisure amphitheater and the soccer stadium around downtown. That's some documents that were filed with the city for their Brownfield plan in the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. That's where the data come from. So, there's a potential tower there, residential tower, about a $115 million that would go next to the soccer stadium on property between Mount Vernon Avenue and Winter Avenue. So again, that's an example of some of the peripheral spin-off effects from these two projects. You know, when you talk about that tower, there's could include about an 18-story tower, mixed uses with retail office space, 260 apartments, and of course some parking.

Patrick Center: You just mentioned the soccer stadium footprint and potential housing there. Let's go across the river.

Mark Sanchez: Sure. Down there on Market Avenue Southwest, there's kind of envisioned a $271 million high-rise that could include up to 475 apartments, obviously parking for those residents. And that would kind of go around the Acrisure Amphitheater that's planned and it would include some ground floor retail and commercial space. So again, just to emphasize that point, two big projects planned here in Grand Rapids and now we're beginning to see talk about some spin-off development around both of them. It's an example of how investment breeds investment. We've seen this many times around town. Somebody takes that risk and they make a sizable investment. You start seeing other developers and folks come in wanting to kind of complement that and make their own investment for a project.

Patrick Center: We're talking with Crain’s Grand Rapids Business Senior Writer Mark Sanchez. You've written a piece about how a bill would create a liaison office between Michigan tribes and the state legislature.

Mark Sanchez: Yeah, this is some legislation introduced last week by State Representative Carrie Rheingans, Democrat from Ann Arbor. And she says it's a bipartisan bill. Go back a little more than four years ago Governor Whitmer by executive order created tribal liaison offices within the administration, within the governor's office and state agencies. This is basically where there's an issue the state's working on that affects the tribes. There's a direct link. There's that direct connection with the tribes to get their feedback, get their input, get their views. And now the state representative from Ann Arbor wants to do basically the same thing for the legislature. Whenever a policy debate or legislation comes up in the legislature, let's make sure we have a direct link going to those 12 tribes in Michigan who have a growing influence in the state. Let's make sure we're talking to them, that we're understanding their perspective on issues, their understanding our perspective on issue. And it's a bill that was introduced and she expects it to go through the legislature here this year. And again, just kind of create that conduit to make sure the legislature is getting that perspective from those 12 tribes here in Michigan.

Patrick Center: It's been a week since that major water main break in Grand Rapids and in Grand Rapids Township disrupting service. The water was flowing, but there was a boil water alert. There are business owners who you've been speaking with. Is this covered under their business insurance?

Mark Sanchez: Uh, no. It is not, unless basically, you know, you got to read your policy, talk to your broker, make sure you understand specifically the language in your individual policy. There's a type of coverage a lot of businesses have called business interruption insurance. If fire, severe storm damage, vandalism interrupts your business, it will cover those losses. You have obviously property and casualty insurance for those physical losses, but there's also lost revenue, covering payroll, things like that, that business interruption insurance in certain circumstances will kick in. Now we know last week when we had that boil advisory posted, there were some businesses around town, especially here in downtown, they had to shut down for a few days because they couldn't make coffee or they couldn't, you know, it really disrupted their business. Bottom line to your question, no, this insurance is not going to cover that loss, that loss revenue, that interruption to your business and the disruption. And even if it did, a lot of these policies also have a probably about a three-day deductible period before it really kicks in. So, sorry to say for folks that got their businesses disrupted last week by that situation with the water main break, it's not something that typically insurance is going to cover.

Patrick Center: Crain’s Grand Rapids Business Senior Writer Mark Sanchez, thank you so much.

Mark Sanchez: Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.