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Study: 2011 Muskegon Lake environmental restoration project improves housing and recreation values

Muskegon Lake harbor entrance photo
Wikimedia Commons

A decade ago, a restoration project along the southern shoreline of Muskegon Lake was launched. A recently released Grand Valley State University study reveals how its improvements have impacted the area 10-years later.

When environmental improvement projects are lunched, there’s accountability. It’s no different for Muskegon Lake. What value have water and lakeshore improvements brought to the surrounding area?

Paul Isely, Associate Dean in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University was there in 2011.

“So, there was money included for me to actually study how these changes affect people’s behaviors and how it affected things like housing values.”

Back then, Isely projected the improvements along the southern shoreline would increase home values by close to $12 million and add a recreational value of $2.8 million.

“So, this $10 million, shovel-ready project was generating a six-to-one return on investment and had a payoff period of less than one year.”

What did Isely find returning 10-years later? An $8 million increase in home values. Short of his projection, but there were downtown improvements and the removal of the Sappi Paper Mill. That attracted more recreational visitors.

“Instead of coming once more, they were coming two to four times more and that resulted in just short of a half-million additional visits to the lake every year. That results in nearly $28 million annually in recreation value, and half of that’s actually money that’s spent. So, that actually increases the recreational spending in Muskegon County by 4-percent.”

Isely explains the increases in values around Muskegon Lake are larger than elsewhere in the Great Lakes basin.