MUSKEGON, MI – A public/private partnership designed to create a new convention center in downtown Muskegon will connect a 201-room full-service hotel, a new 45,000 net square foot convention center, and the city’s LC Walker Arena to become a modern convention and exposition campus.
The public/private partnership between the County of Muskegon, City of Muskegon, and Parkland Properties of Michigan, calls for a $17 million convention center connected to a renovated and rebranded hotel – at a cost of $6 million – and the L.C. Walker Arena, which has just completed a $1.7 million renovation to modernize the 1960s-era arena, with an additional $1.5 million investment in roofing and HVAC improvements planned for the facility. Total estimated investment in the convention/exposition campus is estimated to exceed $26 million.
“The LC Walker Arena is an important part of the fabric of our community,” said Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson. “People young and old have great memories of watching hockey and attending concerts at the LC. We feel the addition of the convention center will only enhance our growing downtown and provide new opportunities to host larger meetings, conventions, exhibits, etc. This is a great opportunity to breathe new life into the arena, and ensure that future generations can make similar memories in that building as well as create new memories in our new convention center.”
“The public/private partnership is a long term relationship that allows Muskegon County to achieve goals that otherwise would be unachievable due to PA59 limitations” said Muskegon County Administrator Mark Eisenbarth. “This partnership will give Muskegon County a boost to businesses development, increase competitiveness in the convention marketplace, and increase business tourism in Muskegon County. It adds to the year-round aspects of tourism in Muskegon County, and will help us draw new meetings, conventions and events to the County.”
Progressive AE of Grand Rapids was chosen as the architecture and engineering firm for the project, and has been working with the County of Muskegon, the City of Muskegon, and Parkland Properties on initial siting and concept design for the convention center, and the project is now in the Design Development phase.
The convention center portion of the project will be funded with county accommodations taxes and assessments collected from hotels located within the City of Muskegon and will result in a 45,000 net square foot convention center connected to the 201-room Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor, owned by Parkland Properties and currently undergoing a $6 million renovation and rebranding to become a Delta by Marriott.
“We are very excited about so many new developments in Muskegon, but especially the convention center,” said Jon Rooks, President of Parkland Properties. “A convention center is the next logical step for our community and we believe this new convention center, combined with the remodeled arena and fully remodeled hotel with a covered parking gar age, is only going to accelerate Muskegon’s already fast pace growth, all year-round.”
The new convention center will be sited on 4th Street between Western Avenue and Shoreline Drive (BUS US-31), and the city’s LC Walker Arena and hotel. It will have entrances at Shoreline Drive, Western Avenue, and 3rd Street, with additional access through the hotel and arena. The City of Muskegon will vacate 4th Street for the convention center development.
Some 20,000 sq. ft. of divisible clear-span space and an expansive pre-function area overlooking Muskegon Lake will be supported with over 10,000 sq. ft. of breakout and banquet facilities at the hotel and in the lower level of the convention center building. The design of the building takes its cues from the city’s industrial past and expansive waterfront, and will capitalize on its location in the heart of the city.
“Community leaders first started talking about the possibility of a convention center in the late 1980s. In 2002, a feasibility study was undertaken to determine if a facility was warranted,” said Bob Lukens, Director of Visit Muskegon, the countywide convention and visitors bureau. “We revisited that study in 2014, and the new study revealed that a convention center would be beneficial for the community. We were losing a lot of business due to space limitations.”
The convention and exposition campus comes at a time when Muskegon and Muskegon County is experiencing explosive residential, business, and tourism growth. Over $500 million in development projects are underway in Muskegon, and the city continues to see a new influx of downtown residents and the new businesses needed to serve them.
The LC Walker Arena has undergone over $1.7 million in renovations and modernization, making the facility much more adaptable to a variety of events, from hockey games to concerts to expositions. A new restaurant has opened in the arena and another is planned.
“With the growth underway now in Muskegon, the decision was made to move forward and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Lukens said. “We’re excited to bring new visitors from across the state and throughout the country to Muskegon and Muskegon County for their conventions, meetings, and events.”
The City of Muskegon will host a free event, open to the public, to give community residents a closer look at the newly renovated arena and a preview of the convention center plans on Tuesday, October 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the LC Walker Arena, 470 W. Western Avenue (4th and Western). For additional information on the event, contact the City of Muskegon at 231-724-6705 or go to: www.shorelinecity.com. The city’s Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/CityofMuskegon.
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Mark Eisenbarth, County of Muskegon 231-286-3190
Frank Peterson, City of Muskegon 231-788-8086
Jon Rooks, Parkland Properties 616-450-4600