MUSKEGON, MI – Plans for a $250 million mixed-use development on Muskegon Lake that incorporates lots of public access, including a new fishing pier and boat launch, have received final approval from the city.
Muskegon city commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 28, praised the design of Adelaide Point earlier this week when they approved the planned unit development for the property on Western Avenue behind Cole’s bakery.
“I think this plan sounds amazing,” said Commissioner Michael Ramsey. “I think it looks amazing.”
The project by Ryan Leestma on 37 acres envisions a 270-slip marina that will include 75 transient slips, several boat storage buildings, condominiums and apartments, shops, restaurant and bar, boat and paddle board rentals, a new public boat launch and public fishing pier.
Renovation of existing buildings for boat storage has already begun, with the overall development expected to take 10 years, Leestma told MLive earlier.
Commissioners were enthused about attracting more people to the far west end of Western Avenue and exposing them to both the paved Lakeshore Trail, which will traverse the development, and the restored lakefront that previously was the site of heavy industrial use.
Commissioner Dan Rinsema-Sybenga said he considers that area one of his favorite spots in the city and appreciates how the project will expose more people to “this beautiful place.”
“Nothing beats a bike ride at dawn or dusk or anytime in between,” Rinsema-Sybena said. “It’s just amazing – the 270-degree view.
“You don’t see very many people taking advantage of it now. I think more people will fall in love with Muskegon when they see this project.”
The property, the site of the former Michigan Steel foundry, is mainly vacant but two existing buildings currently are being redeveloped into boat storage.
City planners suggested constructed boat storage buildings be placed closer to Western Avenue to beckon people onto the site. Residential units, the restaurant and shops will be closer to the lake near the marina.
Three new public streets will be narrow with on-street parking.
“Quite literally every inch of the waterfront will remain open to the public,” Greg Weykamp of Edgewater Resources told commissioners. His firm is assisting Leestma with development designs.
The first building other than boat storage to be developed will be the restaurant with an event center and boat rentals, likely next spring, Weykamp said. The marina would be developed after that, he said.
Construction of the residential buildings will be “market driven,” Weykamp said.
Buildings will have solar panels and roof gardens and mass timber construction, a technique that uses primarily wood for the load-bearing structure.
A new trailhead with parking will be established at the cul-de-sac end of Western Avenue at the suggestion of residents of the Nims Neighborhood, Muskegon Economic Development Services Director Jake Eckholm told commissioners.
A short cut “commuter connection” to downtown from the Lakeshore Trail, which hugs the shore of Muskegon Lake in that area, also will be developed.
The project incorporates, and makes more public, some city-owned property: a boat basin and peninsula that is a portion of the charter park at the city’s Hartshorn Marina. Use of the property will be attained through a shared access agreement.
Thirty existing boat slips in the boat basin will be removed and a public boat launch with a lift that can launch boats up to 100 feet – something the city currently doesn’t have – will be operated by the developer. Shopper docks will replace the slips.
In addition, a gate on the peninsula adjacent to the basin will be removed to allow public access, the land cleaned up and a fishing pier will be added by the developer.
“To see this area cleaned up and a more healthy environment for the community, and definitely the public access – that’s one thing I always hear about — I think is going to be a huge addition to Muskegon,” said Commissioner Willie German Jr.
Two other peninsulas on Leestma’s property – between which will be the marina – also will be maintained for public access.
Leestma told commissioners maintaining public access is good for the community and for business.
“I think this is one of those rare opportunities where doing the right thing is good for business,” he said. “We want to create a place where people will get drawn in for many different reasons.”
Approval of the planned unit development is contingent on a development agreement that establishes public easements as well as issuance of a storm water permit by the Muskegon County Drain Commissioner.
The city’s public works and fire departments are working with the developer on placement of a water main and fire hydrants.
Also on MLive