Development in Grand Rapids

One of America’s top 20 cities for job growth. A top 10 city for fastest rising income. The #1 metro area for sustainable development.

These are just a few of the economic achievements Grand Rapids has tallied of late. The city and its surrounding region have built one of the most successful economies in the U.S. over the past decade – and it’s fueled an unprecedented surge in capital expenditures. Here are just a few examples of recent investments.


Seven new hotels have opened in downtown GR since 2016. The city center’s largest hotel, the 656-room Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton, completed a $40 million renovation in 2021. Upgrades included installing floor-to-ceiling glass in all guest rooms to provide unobstructed views of the city and opening MDRD, a 27th floor “lavishly Spanish” eatery named the second best new restaurant of 2021 by USA Today.

The Blue Jay Boutique Hotel is bringing a lodging option to the city’s bustling Bridge Street entertainment district, just steps from downtown. The Blue Jay will include five rooms, a shared lounge and bar area, and an outdoor courtyard with fire pits and lawn games. It is scheduled to open by early 2024.

Plans are underway to add another downtown hotel, a 111-room Staybridge Suites, on the west bank of the Grand River – directly across from the Embassy Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids, which opened in 2019.

Even more hotels have opened outside the city center since 2016, giving meeting planners and attendees a wealth of budget and amenity options close to both downtown GR and the region’s airport.

For example, the Sheraton Hotel Airport and Conference Center Grand Rapids opened in summer 2022, on the site of a former Crowne Plaza. Two miles from Gerald R. Ford International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown GR, the 259-room Sheraton offers offers more than 24,000 sq. ft. of versatile meeting and event space, including 23 event rooms and 20 breakout rooms.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Gerald R. Ford International Airport Concourse

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport concourse and terminal continue to see updates completed.

Photo by Peter McCullough Photo for Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

In summer 2023, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) unveiled phase 1 of its Concourse A expansion project, which increased the number of gates from eight to 14, enlarged gate space areas to accommodate larger size aircraft, and added new concession and retail concepts.

This expansion is part of the airport’s ELEVATE Program, which is designating more than $500 million in infrastructure improvements to improve the guest experience and position GRR for future growth. Additional improvements set to begin or already underway include a second-level executive lounge, a new federal inspection station to enable nonstop international passenger flights, the relocation of the current air traffic control tower, a consolidated rental car facility with an enclosed walkway from the terminal and a new checked bagged inspection system that will streamline the post-ticket counter journey for baggage.

These enhancements will further distinguish an airport already renowned for its service – the Airports Council International recognized GRR in its 2022 Service Quality Awards categories of Best Airport of 2-5 Million Passengers in North America, Airport with the Most Dedicated Staff in North America, Easiest Airport Journey in North America and Cleanest Airport in North America.

Renderings for fish passage with rocks in the Grand River part of the Whitewater Project.

Renderings for fish passage with rocks in the Grand River part of the Whitewater Project.

Photo by Grand Rapids Whitewater

River Restoration

Planning continues on an ambitious project to revitalize the Grand River that runs through downtown and transform the way people engage with it. Long a magnet for fishing enthusiasts, the river will be “redesigned” to offer additional recreation opportunities and act as a catalyst for further development. The city’s namesake rapids, long absent from the river, will be restored with the removal of downtown dams.

Downtown Amphitheater

A 12,000-seat outdoor amphitheater is planned for a riverfront site in downtown GR. Named Acrisure Amphitheater after one of the city’s largest employers, the facility will be built on 31 acres that are also envisioned to incorporate a mixed-use development with housing, green space and retailers. The $184 million venue is projected to open in 2026.

Renderings of Lyon Square
Renderings of Lyon Square

Renderings of Lyon Square

Photo by Progressive AE

Lyon Square

Another riverfront project, Lyon Square is a pedestrian-focused park and plaza located between DeVos Place Convention Center and the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel. New features include a covered river overlook, outdoor fireplace, public seating, additional tree canopy, lighting fixtures and a sidewalk snowmelt system are being added to the square. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2024.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Enhanced access to the river is also integral to a $50 million expansion of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The Museum is transforming its outdoor space into a park-like environment with artifact displays, hands-on learning stations, seating and food service. It is also detaching the pavilion housing its 1928 Spillman carousel from the main building to allow for an accessible riverfront trail. In addition, several of the Museum’s core exhibition spaces will be refreshed and reimagined. Construction began in fall 2023 and is expected to take two years to fully complete.

Downtown Soccer Stadium

A site is soon to be announced for the construction of a downtown soccer and event stadium. The stadium would host a professional soccer team, with a vision to play its first games before the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes to America in 2026.

Corewell Health

The area’s largest employer, formerly known as Spectrum Health, operates a full-service hospital and a children’s hospital in downtown GR. It is consolidating a portion of its workforce in a new $100 million Center for Transformation and Innovation in downtown’s Monroe North neighborhood. It will include a renovated downtown building connected to a new eight-story facility, which together will accommodate 1,800 employees currently working in 18 offices across West Michigan. It is expected to open in summer 2024. Future plans for the site include the addition of medical student housing and market rate housing.

Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital

Downtown’s Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, the nation’s most comprehensive rehabilitation provider, is partnering with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to build Michigan’s first dedicated children’s rehabilitation hospital. The $60 million Joan Secchia Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital will be built across the street from Mary Free Bed, with a pedestrian walkway between them. It is expected to open in 2025.

Grand Valley State University

The downtown GR campus of this 22,000-student school continues to expand, with plans announced for a $140 million repurposing of its riverside Eberhard Center into the “Blue Dot Lab,” housing computer science, data science and transdisciplinary degrees in business, computing and the humanities. This will help fulfill the city’s vision to create 20,000 new tech jobs over the next decade and become a major tech hub in the Midwest.

Downtown Residential

The demand for downtown housing has skyrocketed as new and longtime residents want to be close to new amenities. The 22-story residential tower at the Studio Park entertainment complex, set for completion by summer 2024, is one of many projects looking to fill the need. Another is Factory Yards, a $150 million, 15-acre mixed use development a 10-minute walk from downtown’s Founders Brewing Co. and the soon-to-be-built downtown amphitheater. The Factory Yards project will renovate existing warehouses to incorporate apartments, commercial space, performance space, restaurants, art installations and community gathering areas. Developers hope to complete the project by summer 2027.

Residential construction is also booming outside downtown, as named Grand Rapids/Kent County the nation’s 7th hottest housing market for 2023, and officials estimate that an additional 35,000 housing units will be needed by 2027.

Downtown Businesses

Downtown GR has welcomed many new corporate headquarters, educational facilities and multi-use complexes in the past five years – AcrisurePerrigo, the Grand Valley State University Center for Interprofessional Health, the West Michigan Construction Institute and Studio Park, just to name a few.  

In 2023, downtown welcomed a host of new restaurants, including 5 Knives Café, The Caribbean Bite, Chicago Beef Joint, Daisies Place, Elsa’s Frozen Yogurt, General Wood Shop (an LGBTQIA+ cocktail bar), HAS HEART Coffee Shop, Nightwatch Lounge, Pochis Columbian Café and Scholar. New stores include Detroit-based watch-and-luxury-good-retailer Shinola and art-focused The Spark.

Projects now in the planning or building phase include Silva, a bocce ball-themed “dinner-tainment” complex; the Bridge Street Food Truck Court, a partially enclosed space with seating and parking; and The Sovengard, a popular restaurant and biergarten being relocated to a new location on Bridge Street.

Craft Beverages

New businesses are extending Grand Rapids’ legacy as America’s Craft Beverage Capital:

  • Mammoth Distilling opened a Grand Rapids tasting room and event space in the Uptown neighborhood in fall 2023.
  • Eastern Kille Distillery is building a new distillery, tasting room, restaurant and cocktail garden 20 minutes from downtown GR, set to open by early 2024.
  • Sip Shine, a Grand Rapids-based moonshine brand, is opening a Nashville-style tasting room and restaurant with a rooftop bar in the Bridge Street entertainment district, opening soon.   
  • Oakestown Brewery, a new concept from southwest Michigan-based Harbor Light Brewing, opened in Grandville in 2023.

Other Recent Projects