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.
Downtown’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 Amway’s renovation came on the heels of seven new hotels opening downtown since 2016. Plans are underway to add an eighth new downtown hotel, a 111-room Staybridge Suites, on the west bank of the Grand River – directly across the river 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 21,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space as well as a new Sheraton Club Lounge for Sheraton Club-level rooms, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, new restaurant and mobile dining options, and an airport shuttle that runs at all hours.
GRR has begun construction on a $110 million expansion of its Concourse A that will more than double current capacity and add eight new gates for a total of 15. This expansion is part of Project Elevate, a $500 million infrastructure improvement initiative that will also include a new control tower, operations center and federal inspection station. It follows a Gateway Transportation Project that improved guest services and amenities from 2015-2020.
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.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has become one of the world’s top 50 most visited art museums in the 20 years since its opening. In 2021, FMG completed a $115 expansion that includes a new welcome center, learning center, transportation center, picnic pavilion and more.
Planning continues on an ambitious project to revitalize the Grand River that runs through downtown and transform the way people engage with it. Long magnet for fishing enthusiasts, the river will be “redesigned” to offer additional recreation opportunities and act as a catalyst for further development.
The prospect of the river redesign has already spurred the city of Grand Rapids to plan a $116 million multi-use facility on 31 acres of downtown riverfront. It will include a 12,000-seat amphitheater, apartments, retail space, parks, non-motorized trails and greenspace. Officials hope to open the amphitheater by 2025.
Another riverfront project, Lyon Square is an outdoor public gathering space located between DeVos Place Convention Center and the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel. New lighting, seating, walkways, trees and a platform over the river are being added to the square, along with a space for hosting special events. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2023.
Named one of five great public spaces in America in 2017, this downtown gathering space was designed by internationally renowned artist Maya Lin and hosts more than 700,000 visitors each year for recreation, entertainment and civic gatherings. A $3 million renovation to repair wear and fulfill the totality of Lin’s original vision was undertaken in honor of the project’s 20th anniversary. It was completed in the summer of 2022.
More than $2 billion has been invested in this “life-sciences corridor” in downtown Grand Rapids since 2000, and development continues to blossom. In 2022, the 200,000 sq. ft. Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building opened in the Mile’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park, a collaborative health innovation hub driven by Michigan State University. BAMF Health, which uses advanced imaging technology to detect and treat cancer from head to toe, moved in as the building’s first tenant.
The area’s largest employer, which operates Spectrum Health Hospital and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in the Medical Mile, 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 facility that will begin construction in 2022, and it will accommodate 1,800 employees currently working in 18 offices across West Michigan. Fall 2023 is the target for completion.
Downtown GR has welcomed many new corporate headquarters, educational facilities and multi-use complexes in the past five years – Acrisure, Perrigo, the Grand Valley State University Center for Interprofessional Health, the West Michigan Construction Institute and Studio Park, just to name a few.
New projects in the planning or building phase include a permanent food truck court; a nine-story building containing a grocery store, retail space, housing and offices; a 10-story building with a food hall, brewery/distillery, retail and apartments; a 16-story addition of residential apartments to Studio Park; and the first children’s rehabilitation hospital in Michigan.
New businesses are extending Grand Rapids’ legacy as America’s Craft Beverage Capital:
• Brewery Nyx renovated a downtown building to serve as a production facility and tasting room for Michigan’s first gluten-free brewery and distillery, and opened to the public in summer 2022.
• Long Road Distillers opened a cocktail bar, Less Traveled, in 2022, occupying a renovated retail space in the Uptown neighborhood.
• Eastern Kille Distillery is building a new distillery, tasting room, restaurant and cocktail garden on the northeast side of Grand Rapids, for opening in 2023.
• Craft beverage entrepreneurs renovated several buildings in the bustling Bridge Street Entertainment District to host Küsterer Brauhaus (opened August 2022), Broad Leaf Brewery + Spirits Westside (November 2022) and the Drip Drop Cocktail Room (November 2022).
• Coming to Bridge Street in 2023: General Wood Shop, a new LGBTQ+ cocktail bar; Sip Shine Lounge, a Nashville-style tasting room and restaurant; and The Sovengard, serving Scandinavian-inspired cuisine and craft beverages.
Our economic success has put us on the radar of such national brands as Amazon, Planet Fitness, Real Seafood Co. and Whole Foods, all of which have recently opened or are slated to open new facilities here.
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