Developers propose movie theater, mixed-use center for downtown Grand Rapids

Posted at 1:24 PM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 13:24:41-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan developers are proposing a new $140 million mixed-use center for downtown Grand Rapids, including a movie theater.

616 Development and Loeks Theaters made the announcement Monday for a mixed-use development including a movie theater in downtown Grand Rapids in the Arena District.

The proposed development would sit south of Van Andel Arena along Oakes Street and Ionia Avenue including: a 9-screen movie theater developers called "next generation," named Studio C; 40,000 square-feet of retail space; a public piazza; then about 350 residential units, studios to three-bedroom apartments, built on top, including a 10-story residential tower.

The city of Grand Rapids will also operate a 912-space parking ramp. Meanwhile, the current Area 4 parking lot and extension road between Oakes and Cherry Streets will be replaced. Developers said the freeway ramps would remain unchanged.

Rendering of the proposed Studio C

Rendering of the proposed Studio C

“The theater is anticipated to have 240,000 visitors per year, and right now that’s well in advance of what we understand the attendance at the arena to be,” said Jeff Olsen, 616 Development director of development.

Olsen said this is 616 Development’s largest project adding, "there would be an opportunity to really service most of your lifestyle right within this area, south of the city.”

The developers do not have plans of adding a grocery store due to limited space, but President of Loeks Theaters J.D. Loeks said a movie theater is among Grand Rapids residents' top-three wishlist.

The construction would entail two phases. If passed, the first phase's ground breaking would be during the start of 2017 and encompass $100 million of the project, including Studio C and 187 residential units.

“It’s been a passion project for a  long time so I’m really excited to fill the first bag of popcorn which would probably take place about 18 months after we break ground next year," said Loeks.

The first phase of building would bring between 250 to 300 construction jobs Olsen said, in addition to the retail positions. Phase two would include building the 10-story residential tower and is expected to last another two years.

As far as Studio C goes, Loeks said expect some "surprises" hinting their company is looking into different seating then food and beverage designs, as well as showing additional content alongside Hollywood hits. Loeks mentioned "live sports" as an example.

Olsen and Loeks said they have worked on this plan about nine years and are optimistic plans will go through. The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority will vote on the project Friday, April 15.

Many local restaurants and bars in downtown Grand Rapids are excited about the potential boom for business.