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sudoclam

What's in the future of Kent Country Club

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Does anyone have any thoughts on the future of the Kent Country Club?

A friend, prominent to the city of GR, has told me there are about 15 active golf members (possibly less now). That's a lot of wasted realestate, if actually factual.

What would your thoughts be?

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That would be really sad if true. I caddied there in the late eighties and would say the experience was formative for me. It was a magical place to my twelve year old self. I recently had a chance to have a corporate breakfast there a few years ago and it still looked as nice as ever, even if a bit dated. The decor is definitely typical of what you'd think an old school country club would look like. I'm almost certain the neighborhoods around there can't supply caddies any more so I don't think they have the program any longer.

I would hate to see this gone to development, it has a long history.

I would love-love-love to have a chance to play there again someday...

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Those numbers are way off. Membership is closer to the 300-400 range, doubling when adding family into that number. Country Clubs throughout GR have been down, but with the membership/money at KCC, i don't think it will ever close. The Caddy program still exists as well.

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I was referring to active golfing members (members who use the course, not the club). Not total membership.

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I can't see it being all that desirable for development. It's very large, way larger than most builders/developers could handle (look how long Wealthy/Division has taken to get going). It's too far from downtown to be desirable for most young professionals. The one possibility I could see is a retirement community like the one where Metro Health used to be.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the possibility. I don't think developers (most of which have gone bankrupt) are chomping at the bit to get their hands on it.

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It isn't too large at about 120 acres. That's a fairly reasonable size for a "normal" subdivision development, and lots are moving quite well right now. The issue is that it is in Grand Rapids and no developer in its right mind is going to take a stab at that. Demand for the lots at a price that would cover development and construction costs would be somewhere between zero and none. It's rather ironic, when you think about it, that the city is the last place anyone would go to put in a new development. Put a vacant parcel that close to town in EGR, Forest Hills, or virtually anywhere else, and developers would have gone after it long ago.

I can't see it being all that desirable for development. It's very large, way larger than most builders/developers could handle (look how long Wealthy/Division has taken to get going). It's too far from downtown to be desirable for most young professionals. The one possibility I could see is a retirement community like the one where Metro Health used to be.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the possibility. I don't think developers (most of which have gone bankrupt) are chomping at the bit to get their hands on it.

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It isn't too large at about 120 acres. That's a fairly reasonable size for a "normal" subdivision development, and lots are moving quite well right now. The issue is that it is in Grand Rapids and no developer in its right mind is going to take a stab at that. Demand for the lots at a price that would cover development and construction costs would be somewhere between zero and none. It's rather ironic, when you think about it, that the city is the last place anyone would go to put in a new development. Put a vacant parcel that close to town in EGR, Forest Hills, or virtually anywhere else, and developers would have gone after it long ago.

Perhaps there are developers thinking, "hmmm, Forbes rating"

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2012/04/04/the-best-cities-for-raising-a-family/

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It isn't too large at about 120 acres. That's a fairly reasonable size for a "normal" subdivision development, and lots are moving quite well right now. The issue is that it is in Grand Rapids and no developer in its right mind is going to take a stab at that. Demand for the lots at a price that would cover development and construction costs would be somewhere between zero and none. It's rather ironic, when you think about it, that the city is the last place anyone would go to put in a new development. Put a vacant parcel that close to town in EGR, Forest Hills, or virtually anywhere else, and developers would have gone after it long ago.

Not that I think the golf course should be sold to developers for a new subdivision, but it's incorrect to say that no one would want to build a subdivision in the city of Grand Rapids. Greg Holwerda tried. The planning commission approved it, only to be shot down by the City Commission.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/01/grand_rapids_city_commission_r_2.html

But then, maybe you file him as one of those developers "not in their right mind".

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If they built anything on it, I would hope it would be an actual new urban development and not just

another trashy subdivision.

Honestly, leave it as a park/preserve. Build a pavilion and hold concerts in the summer like at the

Meijer Gardens.

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I don't want to be a nitpicker, but that article was talking about the metropolitan statistical area of 775k people. And as for the Holweda development, it wasn't a subdivision per se. It was an attached condo development with 150 units with a few single family homes sprinkled in among those. A prior proposal for 44 single family homes--a "subdivision" development--was scrapped. The last significant single-family subdivision development in the city that I can think of still has a lot of unsold lots after many years, and was arguably in a better location on the far western edge. The problem is that houses in the city cost far less than their replacement cost in most instances. It just makes no sense to build a new house in the city limits of Grand Rapids at this point. If--if--they could find a way to execute a plan I proposed before that would guarantee admission to City High, they could sell new houses like hotcakes. But it won't happen. That would actually take vision and an affinity for growth, and marketing our city as something other than a haven for low income housing and, as GRDad noted, retirees. We can just keep our fingers crossed and hope.

For the time being, it's probably best that it is a country club. In the future, if the city finds a way to reinvent its school system and tamp down its crime problems, the parcel will become much more valuable and a great development opportunity to have available. I don't see any developers beating down the doors for the near future. Let's just hope the membership keeps it alive. I seem to recall scuttlebutt about some major financial problems awhile ago, and a bailout by one of our communities more well-heeled members. But, that was just scuttlebutt. I don't know how reliable it was.

Perhaps there are developers thinking, "hmmm, Forbes rating"

http://www.forbes.co...ising-a-family/

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The problem is that houses in the city cost far less than their replacement cost in most instances. It just makes no sense to build a new house in the city limits of Grand Rapids at this point. If--if--they could find a way to execute a plan I proposed before that would guarantee admission to City High, they could sell new houses like hotcakes.

I bought my home for 40 percent of replacement value. this is the primary obstacle for new developments. and guaranteeing admission to City High is ridiculous. they didn't' even fill all their slots last year so capacity is not the issue. One of the things that I learned in the army is the concept of training to a standard. you don't lower your standards to accommodate the current performance. There are plenty of options for students that can't get into city high. personally I would like my child to be surrounded by similarly high performing children, not some window lickers or miscreants that happen to have parents that think their children are the very best.

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After reading this thread and checking on where KCC is located (sorry, it's been a long time since I was anywhere near it on my visits "home"), I just had to comment. So many cities, and I include a least a few select suburbs in that group, would salivate at having that type of "open space" available for infill, especially under one ownership. What an opportunity for mixed use development with new urbanist design elements. And I don't mean cheap apartments, stacked on top of each other surrounded by huge surface parking lots, but a well thought out plan that includes multifamily and single family, condos, apartments, townhouses, patio homes, etc., with some neighborhood retail, some public uses (library/community center, educational institutions, whatever), parks and recreational areas, sidewalks, trails. You get the drift.

Not everyone who wants a walkable neighborhood wants to or can live downtown or right next to it. And not all mixed use, new urbanist development has to have fixed rail transit service or super high densities. If Grand Rapids want to attract a more diverse population or keep a mixture of young professionals, working professionals (with or without kids), and retirees, then the area has to provide housing other than single family homes in cul de sac subdivisions in the 'burbs, funky old houses in transitional neighborhoods, or multi-story condo and apartments only downtown. I guess that realization hasn't quite hit home with community leaders and developers. Not that I necessarily think that Kent Country Club will or should shut down, but properties like that are in high demand within many built up communities, even in areas that aren't booming otherwise.

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120 acres, at about 3 homes per acre, is a HUGE development for West Michigan. You generally only see anything close to that in really fast growing areas like Byron Center or the Ottawa County/Hudsonville area. Even the largest recently built community in Forest Hills is only about 160 homes on 40 acres or so.

The best selling neighborhood in West Michigan history was Bailey's Grove, with over 1200 homes/condos. It took more than 15 years to build it out. There really aren't any developers left in West Michigan who can take on that kind of volume, particularly not in the city of GR.

Single family homes ain't happening there, trust me. I really could see a retirement community, possibly by an out-of-state company, making a go of it.

Holwerda's project was totally different.

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I realize build out could take a while, and it should, to make sure it's done right. But have a comprehensive plan in place for the property, under one developer, if possible, or a consortium of developers. Start out with retail or commercial or whatever is economically feasible at first and then build the rest over time with flexibility built in but basic guidelines in place. And if the new neighborhood offers housing/lifestyle choices not available elsewhere in the GR area, it just might attract enough people/businesses who have no where else to go and want something other than traditional suburban or city center development.

It's a risk, but in the long run it will pay off, of that I'm sure and certain people/firms take risks all the time. To become a vibrant metro area, GR can't just rely on revitalizing downtown and having a couple of "interesting" neighorhoods in East Hills and Eastown (or even the Gaslight Village area of EGR).

Another example I think of that is ripe for becoming a mixed use/walkable area is "old" 28th Street in Cascade. If the Township had any imagination, it would change the zoning and design standards along there and find a way to make it a mixed use corridor, with housing and buildings closer to the street (as redevelopment takes place), with wider sidewalks and sidewalk patios for restaurants and other uses/retrofits that draw people to live, shop, work, and recreate there. Despite various efforts, they'll never make the main 28th St./Cascade Rd. corridor thru Cascade "Village" pedestrian friendly and homey with all of the traffic that speeds through there, but they have an option staring them in the face and haven't yet taken advantage of it. I guess I've seen too many unlikely communities in such places as the south and the west do really innovative things with development and redevelopment, and the GR area, for the most part, hasn't caught on yet, except in a few distinct neighborhoods.

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Used to live across the street (Knapp side) and frequently ran around the property. Sweet Street leads up to the entrance of the club. Nice little hill - the views are surprisingly good. Easy to see the GR river valley.

Compared to GR's more tony establishments (ie. egypt valley, cascade), the club is a dump. (No offense to any reader members.) The surrounding neighborhood is a mixed bag, too. I'm not sure how it's sustainable.

Would be a great location for stacked retirement home. A few stories would create incredible views. Not sure if this is a productive vision, but the golf course would make for a beautiful park. Would certainly help the local home values. Otherwise, a Meijer / Condos / etc. would be an easy bus ride to/from downtown.

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Yeah, I'd hardly call it a dump. In fact, I believe the clubhouse underwent a renovation about 5 or 6 years ago.

The problem is is that most of the wealth in Kent County has moved East, and there are a lot of other options (Cascade, Egypt Valley, Centennial (which is hurting for members I believe) Watermark, Thousand Oaks, Blythefield, Thornapple Point, etc.).

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I was a little worried at first that this topic wouldn't see much discussion by the first few posts. Glad to see some open dialogue. With the recent announcement of the possible closing of Creston HS, what else could that add to this topic?

Also, is their something coincidental about the change in the Creston business district and the infrastructure of Plainfield?

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The key piece of news, more in comments than overt, would be the shift of City HS to the Creston building. The City building was in line for upgrades, but had only seen some basically cosmetic changes (e.g. a revamped cafeteria), while Creston has received some strong upgrades in the tech side. With the concentration of music programs at City, the performance spaces at Creston would also be a positive addition.

As to land, it would seem that the acreage that City presently occupies along Fuller is better suited for redevelopment or continued use as park. At the very least, it may even be that the charter HS over at the old Creston Christian would look at the site.

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Though I don't know what could happen in the Creston area if big changes were to happen. What I do see, is this metro area is lacking a possible opportunity. I really don't see happening in the Creston area, but in a more out laying area, is an outlet mall. Though the out laying areas have failed to support retail growth, except Grandville.

This was a project started back in 1991, in a very rural area, that has been a boon for the area.

http://www.premiumou...s/Crossings.pdf

This is just my thinking for discussion.

Edit Post:sorry should have added the link to the website also.

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=59

Edited by sudoclam

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Two comments: outlet malls? been there, done that. The empty space in Holland stands in witness.

Second, the Creston neighborhood is better thought of as an outpost from the central city. Plainfield is a major route (so easy access); the road has been redeveloped; and the immediate neighborhood shows signs of tentative "gentrification" , sort of a an East Hills North. Cheshire Square a half mile north (on other side of Knapp) also shows some promise.

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Two comments: outlet malls? been there, done that. The empty space in Holland stands in witness.

Second, the Creston neighborhood is better thought of as an outpost from the central city. Plainfield is a major route (so easy access); the road has been redeveloped; and the immediate neighborhood shows signs of tentative "gentrification" , sort of a an East Hills North. Cheshire Square a half mile north (on other side of Knapp) also shows some promise.

Good post. I'm not looking for an answer, just throwing idea's out there. I hope this post stays alive. There seems to be a lot happening around the Creston area.

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I think you're absolutely right nothing like a development the size of the Kent Country Clu site would happen in GR. But looking at the outlying areas, such as Byron Center as you note, 120 acres is not at all out of the norm. 40 acres is a pretty small scrap of dirt. Taking the Watermark as an example, the area the houses sit on alone is about 80 acres. a Kent

I think one of the primary impediment to new high end subdivision development in GR is the school system. That's why I mentioned "guaranteed" admission to City. Reviewing current building stats, it has among the highest building usage of all GRPS schools and there is claimed to be waitlists, so moving to Creston sounds viable. This is a program that needs to expand both in size, and in breadth if the City is ever to expand and support new development. My concept would likely be more of a "if you meet this standard, your kid gets in, and is guaranteed to stay." Ideally you could pull kids with a high potential in lower grades (i.e. starting in 1st), and guarantee a track through a "prep school" curriculum that would feed into City. Almost anyone that normally would choose Forest Hills would probably make it. The mean ACT composite at City was 25 last year, and 24.6 at Forest Hills Central. I've got to think a lot of people that live out in the 'burbs would like less of a drive. It's a shameless marketing tactic, but I don't see how else we've ever got a shot of doing a high end development in the city. I'm just trying to figure out how it could work. It would be great if you could just do it geographically on a whole development (like a city within the city with its own school system), but I would suspect some possible issues if it wasn't a merit-based program. I know it's a total fantasy, but it's entertaining to try to come up with ways someone might ever build a $300k+ development in GR. Whatever the case, it's good to see the new administrator at least start thinking about making some changes. Her uniform proposal is a nice start. I think they're going to have to be much more radical, though, to draw kids in and ever have even the remote potential of facilitating development.

120 acres, at about 3 homes per acre, is a HUGE development for West Michigan. You generally only see anything close to that in really fast growing areas like Byron Center or the Ottawa County/Hudsonville area. Even the largest recently built community in Forest Hills is only about 160 homes on 40 acres or so.

Single family homes ain't happening there, trust me. I really could see a retirement community, possibly by an out-of-state company, making a go of it.

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