Granger project soars to $2B
Walkable retail/mixed-use corridor will be located at Metro Health Village.
May 10, 2019 | By Ehren Wynder, reporter for Grand Rapids Business Journal
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Granger Group’s leaders were standing in the middle of a cornfield in Wyoming in 2004 on what would eventually be the site of Metro Health Village. Now in 2019, the sprawling campus, with a LEED certified Metro Health - University of Michigan Health Hospital at its center, soon will be home to a walkable retail/mixed-use corridor dubbed Village Life Marketplace.
What was originally envisioned to be a $1-billion project in 2004 has now grown into a $2-billion investment, said Gary Granger, CEO of Granger Group, the master developer on Metro Health Village.
“What that says is the region has continued to support these services, and the region has continued to ask us, ‘Can we be involved here?’” Granger said. Most recently is the development of the Village Life Marketplace on the corner of Health Drive and Byron Center Avenue in the northwest section of Metro Health Village. The Business Journal previously reported on Granger Group’s plans to deliver Village Life Marketplace in July 2018. The marketplace has grown from a $3.5-million investment, as previously reported, to a $92-million investment.
The marketplace encompasses about 80 acres of the entire 190-acre Metro Health Village. Granger Group already has built out the first two buildings, totaling about 20,000 square feet of retail, and has begun moving dirt on four more. On the corner of Byron Center Avenue and Health Drive will be a two-story, 20,000-square-foot mixed-use building with first-floor retail and second-floor office space, as well as two units of single-story retail totaling 10,000 square feet along Health Drive, according to the site plan. The project also will add more housing to First & Main, an assisted-living retirement community owned by Granger. First & Main is a three-story building, and the firm will add on a four-story, 65,000-square-foot, 65-unit independent living complex facing north toward Health Drive.
These two features, along with the independent living extension, are scheduled to be completed in fall 2019 at the earliest. The firm is negotiating with a yet-unnamed financial services company to open in the village and has parcels reserved for four restaurants, two of which also are in negotiations. Granger said his firm wishes to anchor tenants who offer unique dining experiences like those found in Grand Rapids. Currently, Wyoming is home to big chain restaurants like Outback Steakhouse and smaller, 10-table establishments like Blue Ginger Asian Kitchen. “Collectively, we have to look at what this site can do for this area, the city of Wyoming,” Granger said. “I can’t stress enough communication and marketing ability to help bring these companies in.”
Metro Health Village is a partnership between Granger Group, Metro Health and the city of Wyoming. Granger said it’s a great fit because the health care industry is naturally thinking about market demands. “What hospitals are doing is learning how to reach out to the marketplace, and the reason is because you can add more value by reaching into the marketplace and service people where they are,” Granger said. The overall vision is to develop Metro Health Village into a true downtown core, Granger said. The reason the project has continued to grow — from a $1-billion project to a $2-billion project — was because of the opportunity for development around the Metro Health hospital. Granger added, however, he and his partners have to tune in to market demands to be able to deliver.
“What we’re hearing is people love it here. They want vitality; they want energy; they want music in the park on a Friday,” Granger said. In the grander vision, Granger speculated Wyoming would be motivated to add its city hall or other civic building to the site. Megan Sall, Wyoming assistant city manager, said the city is very pleased overall with the development in the Metro Health Village. “We believe health care is a strong and valuable industry in West Michigan, and we believe it will serve as a catalyst for future growth,” she said. Granger Group has its own in-house design company and build firm on the project. Financing is provided by Granger and a mix of partners.