The commercial real estate market in Grand Rapids remains one of the busiest in Michigan. This isn’t surprising considering the rise of this city as a Midwest tourist destination, one becoming known for its brew pubs, eclectic mix of restaurants and popular museums.
It’s little surprise, then, that the retail sector here is also a strong one, as a growing mix of merchants has figured out the formula for success in today’s retail sector: Offer consumers something they can’t get online.
Bradley Company recently released its first state-of-the-market report for the West Michigan region. According to the report, the region – which is anchored by Grand Rapids – is seeing an increase in investments in shopping malls and grocery-anchored developments. Bradley Company cited the wide availability of parking combined with a walkable environment as being a key driver of retail growth in the region.
In Grand Rapids’ Central Business District, asking rents have jumped from $16 a square foot to $22 a square foot as of January of this year.
One of the more desirable retail areas in the region? The Knapps Corner area along East Beltine. New retailers such as T.J. Maxx, Chow Hound, Orange Theory and Hop Cat are now leasing space in this development.
But this isn’t the only busy development here. New projects such as the New Holland Brewery and Bridge Street Market are opening along Grand Rapids’ Bridge Street corridor area. Bradley Company says that the entire west side of downtown Grand Rapids should be an area to watch for new construction and renovation projects in 2019.
This doesn’t mean that all retail in West Michigan is thriving. Bradley Company pointed to the RiverTown Crossings 1.2-million-square-foot shopping mall in Grandville. This mall took a hit in 2018 when one of its anchor stores, Younker’s, closed because of the Bon-Tore store bankruptcy. Brookfield Property Partners, as part of its acquisition of national developer General Growth Properties, recently acquired the mall. Bradley Company says that Brookfield is planning a significant upgrade of RiverTown Crossings.
Also last year, the 500,000-square-foot Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor sold in December at auction to an undisclosed buyer. The price was also not disclosed, but Bradley Company said that it did surpass the $2.5 million reserve price. The 60-acre site is anchored by JC Penney, but lost Sears as an additional anchor. It will also lose Carson’s when that retailer closes its doors at the end of April.
There is hope, though, for the Woodland Mall in Kentwood. This space is receiving a $100 million upgrade that includes a new 90,000-square-foot Von Maur that will replace the mall’s former Sears location. This will be the first West Michigan location for the Von Maur department chain. Other new tenants at the mall include Altar’d State, Urban Outfitters and Black Rock Bar & Grill.
Other towns in the West Michigan area are seeing retail progress, too. In downtown Muskegon, the NorthTown 794 redevelopment is turning a 21,000-square-foot former retail store into a three-story commercial hub that will include a brewery, coffee shop and multiple restaurants.
In downtown Holland, $30 million to $40 million of new investments are expected to bring in a variety of retail concepts to the community. Kalamazoo is busy, too, with AVD underway on its $100 million Westgate Development. Bradley Company says about 30,000 square feet of new retail space will be added to downtown Kalamazoo in 2019.