The Most Anticipated Projects of 2017




After years of planning, Grand Rapids city leaders and developers are gearing up for a big year in Grand Rapids, probably the biggest boom in the city in 10 years; maybe ever. Here are some of the projects that we’ve been keeping an eye on, and what we might expect to see this year.

Studio C

Lights, camera, action! Phase 1 of the $100 Million Celebration! Cinema theatre, retail, hotel, plaza and housing complex behind the Van Andel Arena. You know that movie theatre downtown that people have been wanting for years? It’s happening! More news coming on this in the early part of 2017, including a planned groundbreaking date.

Oh, and it will include a 900 car parking ramp, for all those wondering “Where will everyone park?”





Bridge and Stocking Development on the West Side – aka the “Meijer Development”

Just down the street from the New Holland Brewery Knickerbocker, this Rockford Construction project will consist of office use, the new HQ for WMCAT, market rate and workforce housing, and a proposed Meijer store: downtown’s first large scale grocery store. You know that grocery store downtown that everyone’s been begging for for years? Its finally happening!

Proposed Meijer store with residential above. First phase kicking off in 2017.


The new proposed West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT)



Opening of the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center

2 ½ years in the making, the $88 Million new Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Grand Rapids Research Center (MSUCHMGRRC for short?) will open on Michigan Street with 26 biotech research teams and over 200 students and faculty, adding to the existing 500+ students and faculty just up the hill at the MSU CHM Secchia Center. Go GREEN!



Grand Valley State University Health Sciences expansion

The first health sciences facility to leapfrog I-196 from Michigan Street, the new $37.5 Million Raleigh J Finkelstein Hall will expand GVSU’s downtown health sciences program to the Belknap Lookout neighborhood. GVSU has been over-capacity for the last 4 years in the Cook Devos Center with over 5000 students enrolled in health related courses. We understand that it won’t be long before they announce another expansion right next to Cook Devos Center. Go LAKERS!



Switch Communications – Data Center 1st phase opening

The $400 Million first phase of the new Switch data center, which involved converting the existing Steelcase Pyramid into Switch’s new Michigan SuperNap data center, is reportedly on schedule and slated to open any day. It’s also reportedly near capacity with client servers already, including housing the State of Michigan’s servers. Switch plans to add on additional data center buildings to the campus, bringing the total to nearly 2 Million square feet over the next 10 years.

No word yet as to whether it will shoot laser beams into outer space.




Warner Tower at Lyon and Ottawa

What do you get when you mix a law firm, a bank, retail space, over 100 apartments, and put it on top of a cold dreary parking lot in the middle of downtown? Vibrancy, that’s what you get.



Hinman’s 42 story hotel and residential tower at Fulton and Ionia.

Bring it.



Opening of Live Nation/House of Blues/20 Monroe Live

Looking to fill that niche of national acts that are too small for Van Andel Arena and too big for the Intersection, Greg Gilmore’s decades long dream comes to fruition and opens in February.

HOB-Knob at the BOB anyone?





New Embassy Suites – AKA the Monroe North Hotel.

One more vacant lot in Monroe North, vanquished. News on this in the first part of 2017, our sources say.





The splitting up of 50 Monroe into an AC Hotel and two office buildings.

You’ve seen the pictures, the metal siding being pulled back to expose the old buildings underneath. Surprise!



Lyon Square and riverfront makeovers

When the Federal Government hands you lemons and says your floodwalls along the Grand River aren’t high enough, the city decided to turn that news into lemonade… and add stunning parks, trails and new river activities.

lyon-square-park riverfront-trail riverfront


Founders Brewing Company expansion 

What started off as a move to an abandoned truck depot nearly 10 years ago, Founders is putting the finishing touches on their huge expansion that fills the entire block between Grandville Avenue, Bartlett, Finney and Williams Street. Along with a recent addition of a facility across US-131 on Hynes Avenue, Founders will have the capacity to brew 1.2 Million barrels of beer a year, making Founders one of the fastest growing craft brewers in the U.S. and one of the fastest growing companies in West Michigan.



Breweries, breweries and more brewery-type developments


Speaking of beer, according to our high level classified sources in the brewing community, you can expect to see these opening soon or announcing soon:

City Built, 820 Monroe Ave NW – opening in January/February
7 Monks, 740 Michigan – opening early 2017
The Peoples Cider Co, 539 Leonard (new taproom) – early 2017
Red Belly, E Paris, Kentwood – opening early 2017
Speciation Artisan Ales, 3720 West River Drive, Comstock Park 9 – opening Jan/Feb 2017
Thornapple Brewing Company, 6262 28th St – opening early 2017
East West Brewing Co., 1400 Lake Drive – open now
Two Guys Brewing, 2356 Porter, Wyoming – Spring/Summer 2017
Jolly Pumpkin, West Side – to be announced
Brass Ring Brewing Co, Alger Heights – September 2017
High Five Co-op Brewery, – to be announced

Some people say we might be reaching a saturation point for craft breweries. We say the same about mattress stores. Let’s see who wins!

(We’ll have more details about many of these as the year progresses)

Apartments, apartments and more apartments

In the quest to reach that magic 10,000 residents downtown, the tipping point to support a vibrant retail scene according to city planners, look for these to be popping up and opening later this year.

Great places to crash after checking out the many new breweries.

601 Lake Michigan Drive at Seward – under construction



234 Market Ave – next to Founders Brewing Company – under construction



234 Market looking West


Diamond Place at the old Proos site on Michigan Street – under construction – (also rumored to be getting a large grocery store)



Renovation of the Kingsley Building in Eastown at Lake and Robinson – under construction


Orion’s Riverfront apartments on Monroe Avenue across from the Boardwalk – under construction 



New apartments at Grand and Benson, just off of Michigan Street – under construction

rise-apts-aerial rise-apts

1058/1069 Wealthy – under construction



That would keep most Grand Rapidians satisfied for a while, but we hear there may be other news to bring you this year, including another new hotel and conference center downtown, exciting changes coming to Calder Plaza, and big changes coming to Woodland Mall.

Stay tuned and Happy New Year!

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. He also dabbles in residential construction, real estate and development himself to help pay the bills. You can email him feedback or insider story ideas to

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