Our 19 Most Anticipated Projects For GR for 2019

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With the year ending with stock market volatility, political turmoil, affordable housing debates, parking debates and many other things to give us all a bit too much anxiety, we thought it would be a great opportunity during this holiday season to celebrate the continued growth in our thriving community.

While many local development gurus expected that 2019 would slow down to allow Grand Rapids to catch its breath, the city’s development department on its website shows that they are tracking almost 250 major projects (major = projects over $500,000), either getting ready to start, underway or recently completed.  The projects involve more than 7 Million square feet of new and renovated space and $839 Million in construction.

That seems more like a sprint than a slowdown.

While we can’t possibly highlight 250 projects adequately, we hand-picked our 19 Most Anticipated Projects for 2019. Let us know if you think we missed any of your favorites.

  1. Studio Park – Opening Fall 2019, $180 Million

Downtown’s much-awaited and largest project outside of Medical Mile and the largest private development in downtown’s history is set to open in phases starting in September 2019. The first phase of the entertainment district will include a

  • 9 screen movie theater
  •  200 seat “listening room” live music theater
  • A new 7 story hotel
  • 230 apartments
  • A large public piazza for events
  • New restaurants and retail
  • And 946 parking spaces including a 750 space parking ramp

Largest private project ever in downtown GR > slowing down

2. New MSU Innovation Center – Building 2

Just as we were in process of working on this article, Michigan State University tripped us up and announced in December that they are moving forward with a development partnership to build the 2nd building as part of their Medical Innovation Campus on Michigan Street near Monroe Avenue.

According to an article in MLive

“The size of the building has not been finalized, though Mike VanGessel (of Rockford Construction) said he expects it to range from 200,000-square-feet to 250,000-square-feet, and it could be seven- to nine-floors high. That’s larger than the MSU research center, which is a six-story, 162,800 square-foot-building.”

MSU will be a major tenant, with talks ongoing with 5 other potential health science tenants. It will also include a 600 car parking ramp.

No renderings are available but the exact location has been unveiled, just to the East of the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center. Just for illustration; it will look better than this.




3. Amway Grand Plaza Renovation – $40 Million

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, one of Grand Rapids’ most iconic downtown hotels, unveiled that they will give the hotel a “whole new look” with the entire riverfront tower being re-clad with new, more modern transparent glass, new lighting, and the base refinished. Work is set to begin in January. The hotel, including the tower, will remain open to guests during the transformation.



4. New RDV Headquarters Downtown

RDV Corporation, the family office of the Devos Family, announced recently that it has purchased a building previously owned by 5/3rd Bank at 200 Monroe, and plans to move its headquarters from Ottawa Avenue into the building and do extensive renovations.

From an article in MiBiz:

According to a statement from RDV, design plans will include “extensive exterior renovations,” including a new entrance onto Monroe Avenue, where there is currently no access. It also includes the removal of concrete facade and dark tinted windows for “a more modern design.”

RDV plans to extend the building to the south, as well as reconfigure the rooftop HVAC equipment to allow for the addition of office space to be built on top of the current building.

Most readers were probably not even aware this building existed!


5. New Consumers Energy Regional Headquarters

Right in the vicinity of the new Bridge Street Market on the West Side, more development is on the way. From MiBiz:

Jackson-based energy provider Consumers Energy plans to build a six-story, $20 million regional headquarters on Grand Rapids’ West Side.

The proposed 40,000-square-foot building, dubbed “Circuit West,”is planned for a surface parking lot at 501 Alabama Ave. NW just north of Bridge Street and will house up to 275 employees when completed in 2020, according to a statement.

 We’ll go ahead and say what y’all are thinking: West Side = Best Side.

6. Warner Building

Work will be wrapping up on the new downtown headquarters of law firm Warner Norcross + Judd, dubbed the “Warner Building” at Lyon and Ionia. The building will also house the regional offices of Chemical Bank.

  • 15-story, 290,000 sq ft mixed-use tower
  • Retail, and restaurant space
  • 490 space parking deck



7. 601 Bond Apartments

You may have noticed there’s a building considerably taller than its neighbors now dotting the Monroe North landscape. The 16-story tower which opens in 2019 will house 202 apartment units, 210 parking spaces over four stories, ground floor retail, and amenities including: a club room, fitness center, a three-season rooftop patio, outdoor rooftop dining area, and a sun and fitness deck.


8. Embassy Suites – Monroe North

the 7-story, 250-suite hotel located along Monroe Avenue near the 6th Street Park and bridge, is currently wrapping up construction and is scheduled to open March, 2019.


9. Ten Ionia (at Fulton) – 13 story Residence Inn

Work is set to begin early 2019 on a new 13 story tower being built by the Hinman Company, on a parcel that has been a surface parking lot for nearly 50 years. It will house a 146 room Residence Inn and ground-floor restaurant/cafe space. It will connect via skywalk to a parking ramp across the street already owned by Hinman.

If you’re trying to figure out where this is located, it’s conveniently located right between Grand Rapids Brewing Company and the Grand Rapids Police Dept HQ.


10. Twelve story Hyatt Place 

Connected to the Warner Tower on Ottawa Avenue near Pearl is a new hotel under construction, that will feature 146 rooms on 12 floors with ground floor retail. It will share the parking ramp with the Warner Building.

11. AC Hotel – 50 Monroe 

Work continues to move along on 50 Monroe, the building that had its metal siding de-clad in 2016. A new 130 room hotel, the AC Hotel brand which is new to the area, is set to open next to The BOB on the Monroe side.


12. Canopy by Hilton Hotel – Studio Park

The 164 room hotel will be the first of its kind hotel in the Heartside District, as part of the massive Studio Park project mentioned above.


13. New Office Lofts at 37 Ottawa

On the opposite side of 50 Monroe, the now separated building will house office lofts. Workers have been laboring away at restoring the facade for over a year now. Set to start taking tenants in 2019.


14. New Beer Garden at The BOB

 There’s going to be a new beer garden outside of The BOB you guys.

New residential

There are numerous residential projects underway all across the city, but some of the more interesting to us include:

15. New West Side Mixed-Use Project at the old Red Lion site

44 Apartments and restaurants with two new restaurants on the ground floor, North and Mash by North Peak Brewing Company owners. If you haven’t been to Bridge Street lately, the stair towers are rising up out of the ground.


16. Seven story senior living facility at Tapestry Square at the corner of Division and Wealthy

Tapestry Square covers an entire block at Division Avenue and Wealthy Street and has been under development for over a decade, and some of the key parcels at the Northwest corner are about to finally be filled in. This new 7 story apartment building will be noticeably taller than anything else in the neighborhood (sans St Mary’s Hospital a few blocks away).


17. New GVSU Health Sciences Facility at 333 Michigan Street

This new 5 story, 160,000 square foot facility under construction next to the Cook – Devos Center will continue to extend the Medical Mile further East (Medical Mile and a Half?). According to GVSU, it will include 15 classrooms and 14 interactive laboratories, and state-of-the-science spaces including an electronic 3D modeling and imaging of the body and its organs. The Kirkhof College of Nursing will be housed in this center, bringing faculty and students together in collaborative spaces to accommodate interactive learning.



The project will include a 1220 space parking ramp that is a joint partnership between GVSU and Spectrum Health.

18. Grand River Rapids Restoration

From a River For All community presentation given in November of 2018, work is finally set to begin on the area they are calling the “lower reach,” which constitutes the area from the 6th Street dam down to Fulton Street at the South end. Physical work in the river (what they are calling “wet work”) may begin as soon as Fall 2019.

 19. Woodland Mall Revitalization

Despite the explosion of online retail shopping, and closure of a few big-name retailers like Sears locally, retail expansion in the Grand Rapids area is hot. If you like shopping, Woodland Mall’s new expansion will be opening in Fall 2019. New stores will include some of the area’s first:

Von Maur (anchor)

Urban Outfitters

REI Sporting Goods

The Container Store


Honorable Mentions

Laker Line

To help meet demand on our area’s transportation system, The Rapid will begin construction of its second Bus Rapid Transit line, that will serve the West Side out to Allendale and Medical Mile downtown, dubbed the Laker Line. It will feature the State’s first super-long articulated buses. Station construction is set to begin in early 2019.

Flip on I-96/I-196

In an effort to continue to bring GR’s outdated highway system up to speed, and due to explosive job growth in the area, MDOT has undertaken an ambitious project to rebuild the I-196/I-196/East Beltline interchange.

Yes, that mess.

Called the “Flip on I-96/I-196,” the project will greatly improve traffic flow by separating East Beltline-bound traffic from “express traffic,” with two new bridges that will fly over the intersection, as well as adding new lanes for both Eastbound and Westbound traffic from the interchange to Fuller Avenue (3 lanes in each direction minimum). Got all that?  Work has already begun if you travel that area, but will ramp up exponentially in 2019. Get it, ramp up?!

MDOT put together a video highlighting the changes:


 Other notables:

Local restaurateur Paul Lee will be opening his fourth restaurant on Wealthy Street called “Hancock” at the corner of Wealthy and Eastern. If you’re thinking this will only be his third on Wealthy Street, we’ll “B” getting back to you soon on that.


More infill on Wealthy Street

) Developers plan to replace the Wild Bunch building after it was destroyed by a fire recently.

New brewery rumored for 928 Wealthy

Local developer firm Terra Firma is planning a new building at 620 Wealthy, next to Wealthy Street Bakery.

Project 1/ArtPrize

We’re very excited that ArtPrize has decided to mix things up a bit and do something completely radically different every two years. Called Project 1, here are more details: From Sept. 7 – Oct. 27, 2019, the Project 1 exhibition will occupy multiple outdoor sites in Grand Rapids, Michigan and will feature temporary public artworks by 3-5 artists. The seven week run will be punctuated by a series of events, volunteer opportunities, educational programs and performances. The Project 1 theme and participating artists will be announced in early 2019.

Plaza Roosevelt – Grandville Avenue

This unprecedented development on the city’s Southwest side is bringing together a multitude of partners including Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Dwelling Place, Mercy Health, the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, and Ferris State University.

The plans include a brand new GRPS high school for 500 students, low-income housing (single family homes, townhouses and a multi-story building), an addition to Mercy Health’s Clinica Santa Maria and an expansion to Cook Arts Center.

First African-American-owned brewery in Grand Rapids, Boston Square Brewery

With a little help from winning a $20,000 infusion of cash from Start Garden’s 100 Ideas, entrepreneurs Terry Rostic and Jamaal Ewing plan to open GR’s first all African American-owned brewery in the Boston Square neighborhood, called Boston Square Brewery.

Ambiance GR in the Ledyard Building

Also with some help from Start Garden, a team of entrepreneurs including Johnathan Jelks, Jamiel Robinson, and Alvin Hills are opening a new restaurant and bar in a space previously occupied by Rags to Riches. According to the GR Business Journal:  “…the restaurant — which would be open for lunch and dinner — would serve “Southern contemporary and Cajun cuisine” and would offer a space where “diversity is celebrated, and all patrons feel warm and welcomed.” It will be the only African-American owned restaurant downtown, and in addition to cuisine, will feature live blues and jazz, comedy and dancing. Full renovations of the space are underway and they plan to open in the Spring. Additional details can be found on the Ambiance GR Facebook Page.

The Comedy Project

Look out West Side, a new comedy club is joining the growing list of new businesses on Leonard St NW. The comedy and cocktails theater, that will focus on scripted and improv comedy sketches, is also set to open this Spring across the street from Long Road Distillers. You can check out their Facebook Page for grand opening details.

Kids Food Basket’s new Centennial Farm

One of our favorite local non-profits, Kids Food Basket, recently purchased 14 acres of land on Leonard Street on the East Side and are in process of building a brand new production and education facility, as well as a 10 acre working farm and greenhouses that will provide food for their programming and educational opportunities for local children.




More than 19 we know, but we’ll stop there (for now).

Be sure to sign up for the GRNow Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest greatest events in Grand Rapids, and don’t forget to check out our New Year’s Eve Guide.



Jeff Hill is a contributor to GRNow and a development and economics junkie who likes to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s next for Grand Rapids. You can email him feedback or insider story ideas to grjeff@gmail.com.

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