Metro Village blossoms
MiBiz, September 2, 2008 - Developers of Metro Health Village are very pleased with the progress of the long-term project on 180 acres in Wyoming.
The Granger Group LLC President and CEO Gary Granger said his company knew the project would be a major undertaking that would take upwards of 10 years to develop.
"You always end up with little challenges in carrying out the execution of a project, but for the most part it’s (Metro Health Village) been pretty much according to plan," Granger said.
In 2003, Metro Health purchased 170 acres, a lot more property than what it needed for the new hospital.
"We worked with them to figure out how they could offload much of the property," Granger said.
About one-third of the property is owned and controlled by Metro Health, another third is in a partnership between Metro and Granger, and the final third - mostly retail with some offices – is owned by Granger. Granger Group also purchased an additional 10 acres for the project.
The Granger Group SVP of Development and Finance Greg Markvluwer said his company decided the highest and best use of each of the areas of the former farmland. It determined that commercial, retail, hotels and restaurants are the best use of land fronting M-6 or Byron Center Avenue. Medical office buildings are best suited for Gezon Parkway and the central core with its high elevation and visibility is the best location for the hospital.
Early on Metro Health and The Granger Group decided that the entire Metro Health project would be U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.
"In a lot of ways we could set a new standard. It was the first time in the world a project of this nature is LEED certified," Granger told MiBiz.
An architectural committee reviews every project to adhere to a set of project guidelines, including LEED aspects.
The Granger Group has relied on a number of architects for Metro Health Village, including Bob Gibbs from Birmingham, Mich.-based Gibbs Planning. Gibbs has been involved in many pedestrian friendly developments and helped with the overall site plan layout.
Some of the other architects involved included Omaha-based HDR and Beta Designand Integrated Architects of Grand Rapids, all of whom were involved in elements of different buildings.
Granger said many doctors have elected to be near the new hospital. Starbucks was one of the first retailers to go into a new retail building, the first LEED-certified development built in the country. Currently, about half of the 22,000-square-foot retail space is leased.
One of the challenges of the sustainable development has been educating retailers about the benefits of LEED, even thought they often don’t fully understand the language of LEED certification, Granger said.
Green features garnering LEED points in retail include material and equipment choices, energy management systems, lighting selections and construction processes.
Two major buildings are under construction in Metro Health Village. One lot was sold to ITT Technical Institutefor a 35,000-square-foot building that Markvluwer said is a complementary fit for Metro Health Village. That building will be completed this fall.
Another parcel of land was sold for a Hyatt Place Hotel, a lodging establishment that fits the profile of a first-in-class hotel for the campus.
The Granger Group also announced in July that a D&W Fresh Market will be built on the corner of Byron Center Avenue and Gezon Parkway, with construction slated to begin in spring 2009.
"It was very important to attract a grocery store," Markvluwer said. "The traffic volume will have a dramatic effect on the balance of retail here on campus."
More retail buildings are planned. Other hotels like Hyatt Place are being recruited, and a mix of local and national restaurants is planned along M-6 and Byron Center Avenue.
A groundbreaking is expected to take place this fall for the 130,000 square-foot, two-story Spartan Stores YMCAon 10 acres on Gezon Parkway.
Macatawa Bank also purchased a lot in Metro Health Village and plans to start construction of a 3,400-square foot branch next spring, according to Macatawa Bank President Phil Koning. The bank’s new location just off of M-6 is located in the center of three other branches in Byron Center, Grandville and Clyde Park Avenue in Wyoming.
"We wanted to be part of that expansion," said Koning.
Rockford Construction Co. is constructing the ITT Technical Institute and Hyatt Place and will construct the Spartan Stores YMCA. Rockford Construction Project Executive Marty Schultz said LEED features of Hyatt Place include occupancy sensors, sustainable landscaping and energy efficient car hookups. Renewable wood products are also being used to build the 85,000-square-foot hotel. "This is the very first Hyatt Place that will be LEED certified in the United States and anywhere," Schultz said.
The Spartan YMCA will be a model of energy efficiency, according to Rockford Construction Project Manager Pete Michell. There will be an abundance of natural daylighting and durable, green materials. Michell said the ITT structure includes mechanical energy efficiencies, lighting controls and low VOC materials.
The Granger Group’s involvement with Metro Health dates back several years when the developer helped secure a Renaissance Zone for Metro’s former location on Boston Avenue SE in Grand Rapids. Through significant financial planning, The Granger Group helped Metro Health raise some equity to be able to develop its new hospital facility on Byron Center Avenue through leasebacks of five of Metro’s medical plazas.