WALKER, Mich. — One West Michigan city is bursting with new development.
More housing and jobs are coming to the city of Walker, located in the northwest corner of Kent County. Mayor Gary Carey is not shy when it comes to bragging about his city.
"It’s our trail systems, it’s the connectivity throughout the city, families being able to get in and around the city," Carey said.
"From a work standpoint, what makes it very desirable is that we are a city that does have a city income tax, but our property tax base is the lowest in the county of the major cities."
According to Carey, the diversity of businesses has helped the city weather some economic storms.
"When the economy does hit the bottom it hurts, but it doesn’t hurt maybe as bad as cities that might be more centric to, say, automobiles," he said.
Walker's north end is considered the industrial area. Flexco, which makes conveyor belts, chose to relocate from Grand Rapids and expand in Walker. Also consolidating and expanding, is Michigan State Police with a brand new District 6 headquarters.
An apartment complex called Westown at Wilson is going up in Walker's Standale business area at the corner of Lake Michigan Drive and Wilson Avenue. And, Blain's Farm and Fleet will be building its newest store on the southwest corner, bringing 100 jobs with it.
With more homes and retailers going up, the mayor says residents would also like to see more restaurants at that corner.
"I think it’s one of the worst kept secrets that we’ve had Chick-fil-A actually very interested in that intersection.”
With more development, city officials have already anticipated more traffic and installed two new traffic signals: one at the corner of Lake Michigan Drive NW and Maynard Avenue NW and another further west at Lake Michigan Drive NW and Cummings Ave NW.
Crews have also built new and improved bus stops along Fulton Street and Lake Michigan Drive that will support the Laker Line, taking more students to and from Grand Valley State University's downtown and Allendale campuses.
While Walker is experiencing a surge in development, the mayor insists it's all being cautious.
"If there was a term I’d use it’s controlled growth to make sure that we don’t get over the front of our skis too quick here."