Wednesday, October 15, 2008

‘NuMu’ waterfront going green

NuMu is a nickname Dan Henrickson of True North came up with for the new Muskegon, which is rising from the industrial ashes of the past to much more of a lifestyle community on the water. He sees the Muskegon waterfront changing color from rustbelt brown to green, as in sustainability — and money.

So far it's mostly public money that has transformed the Muskegon Lake waterfront, which is just a hop over Business U.S. 31 from downtown Muskegon. But he told his Wednesday audience at the University of Michigan & Urban Land Institute Real Estate Forum there is a lot of opportunity for private investment in an area that is more than twice the size of the prime development area in downtown Grand Rapids.

"Some smart people from Grand Rapids are starting to look at Muskegon," he said.

At the northern end of the waterfront is Harbor 31, a True North development that already has some completed condo units on the water called Vida Nova, with more to come. Other parcels already sold are occupied by MAREC, the GVSU Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center; and the Parmenter O'Toole law firm headquarters.

The entire area was covered with factories and rail sidings for several generations, starting with it's boom town status in the lumber era to another boom in heavy industry during World War II. Muskegon Lake is one of the few deep water industrial ports on Lake Michigan. With all that industry perched there on the shore, downtown Muskegon lost its connection with Muskegon Lake, but that's changed now, and the potential for lakeside living with plenty of boat slips and access to the Big Lake are obvious. The waterfront's industrial heritage make it largely a brownfield area today, which means help with the financing — and Muskegon Lake has already been cleaned up over the last 30 years.

Henrickson, an architect, has worked on a lot of projects in Grand Rapids and other parts of West Michigan. He said Grand Rapids was once lacking in energy and vitality; now it is acclaimed for having the most LEED-certified construction in America. It's happening in Muskegon, too — MAREC is LEED-certified and Vida Nova roofs are literally alive with green roofs for storm water control and natural insulation.

It's all about water in the “NuMu” — and the color green. 

—Pete Daly

No comments: