Knapp’s development ‘ahead of schedule,’ new stores set for spring

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 18:24:04-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Seemingly stalled out for years, development at one of the busiest intersections in Metro Grand Rapids appears to be moving forward, and ahead of schedule, according to the developer.

The Metro Detroit-based developer behind the Village at Knapp's Crossing said eight retailers are signed on to lease out spaces in newly built storefronts situated at the front of the sprawling property along East Beltline Ave NE at Knapp Street.

PNC Bank, Potbelly Sandwiches, Rx Optical, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Piology Pizza, ArtVan Pure Sleep Mattress Store, Lady Jane's and GNC will occupy the smaller storefronts as part of Phase I of the project, said Chris Brochert, of Lormax Stern Development.

Brochert said two of the buildings are complete while a third remains under construction. All will be completed and open for business by spring, he said.

It's good and welcome news for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Given the years of delays and setbacks after the site's former owner filed bankruptcy in 2013, Chamber President and CEO Rick Baker said it's evidence timing really can mean everything.

"Development was getting started right around the time we had our last downturn... now I think this is a sign of where we are in our economy and the growth we’re experiencing," Baker told FOX 17. "The development out there is positive for the neighborhood around it."

Baker said retail and residential development usually go hand in hand, adding that the most recent census data forecasts an additional 10,000 people moving into the Grand Rapids metro area every year in the next decade.

“When you see retail development, it’s a sign of the growth that you’re having in your population," he said.

Rendering of Phase II of the Village at Knapps Crossing.

Rendering of Phase II of the Village at Knapps Crossing.

Construction is also moving forward on Phase II of the project which includes four additional buildings, and the potential for 13-15 additional storefronts, positioned on the north end of the property away from the main road.

Site plans show the storefronts in those buildings range in size from 2,000 to as much as 36,000 square feet. Proposals for those sites aim to target stores like Bath and Bodyworks, Ulta or even Crate and Barrel.

Brochert would not comment on which specific retailers were being pursued but said they were actively working to secure finalized agreements before committing to construction, saying they did not want to rush it.

The total site, which includes D&W Fresh Market, P.F. Changes, and newly-opened Bagger Dave's and Bravo Italiana, is roughly 248,000 square feet, according to site plans.

“It is a significant piece of land, not just because it’s a major intersection but it's very visible," Baker said, adding he believes continued development of the site will have ripple effects beyond economic benefits.

"If you think about it from an overall psyche of a neighborhood, there’s a different, less measurable impact on the community from that perspective. Now you’re seeing the growth and provides encouragement in other businesses wanting to make an investment."

This latest progress caps off more than a decade of setbacks after the land was originally purchased by Steve Benner in 2004.  Benner filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013. The only business operating on the development at the time was P.F. Chang’s. The D&W grocery store at the same corner is owned by Spartan Stores and was not part of the filing.

Site plan for the Village at Knapps Crossing

Site plan for the Village at Knapps Crossing