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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dave Alexander Column - Pure Muskegon and Windward Pointe

MUSKEGON, MI – Too many times big announcements like the Sappi property redevelopment revealed by the local investment group Pure Muskegon LLC are called “game-changers.”

I am so glad that the Windward Pointe development team came up with a more fitting portrayal with what was unveiled last week at the Muskegon County Club: 




See the Vision of Windward Pointe
Windward Pointe will be a “transformational redevelopment” of a former 120-acre paper mill once occupied than one mile of Muskegon Lake shoreline.

And boy, do transformations take a long time.

I have been in Muskegon for 35 years and seen how Muskegon Lake has moved from the heavy industry shoreline of our fathers and grandfathers to a burgeoning destination area that offers unbelievable recreation, residential, commercial, transportation and port development potential.
I was not in Muskegon in 1975, but during my three decades of reporting on Muskegon Lake issues for The Muskegon Chronicle I told the North Star Steel story many times. In the depths of closing factories and sky-high unemployment, Muskegon was offered the opportunity for the investment and jobs of a mini-steel mill.

Ironically it was proposed in 1975 for the Muskegon Lake property now home to Great Lakes Marina in the Lakeside Business District. But the community said no to additional industry on Muskegon Lake and sent the steel mill elsewhere. It was a controversial, bold decision that set the foundation of an improving Muskegon Lake shoreline and made the Windward Pointe announcement possible.
I doubt the Pure Muskegon partners led by local industrialist and philanthropist Larry Hines would have invested their time and treasure into the Sappi paper mill property if just next door to the east was a steel mill. Muskegon Lake is being transformed to what we all want – multiple, clean, exciting and fun uses that make Muskegon Lake a growing Midwest destination.

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In the afterglow of last week’s Windward Pointe announcement, here is what I am thinking about:
·      Don’t underestimate what was announced. I think we will look back on early August 2016 as a turning point in Muskegon’s march to something other than being an old, dirty, foundry town. They talk about tipping points…this is one.

·      

We all need to express our gratitude to the Pure Muskegon investment group, which also owns and operates the adjacent Muskegon Country Club. The dozen investors and one foundation are motivated to create a “transformational” development in their hometown. These are our neighbors who have built wealth mainly in the industrial sector and are now reinvesting in the quality of life of their community. Thank them.



Visit Downtown Muskegon Now Online


·    I have driven by the paper mill property to and from work since the day Sappi closed in 2009. I understand the frustration, anger and cynicism generated by the ugliness of more than a million square feet of industrial buildings being taken down so slowly. But in the big scheme of things, this “transformation” is happening quickly compared to other communities left with vacant paper mills. Just be patient Muskegon, we are on a journey. Windward Pointe will not be created overnight. It will take months for the cleanup and years for the ultimate redevelopment with houses, condos, hotels, apartments, retail shops, offices, restaurants, marinas and more. But I believe it will happen.
·      Behind the scenes over the past three years, several of the members of Pure Muskegon allowed me to understand their vision, plans and efforts to wrest control of the site and deal with deed restrictions and environmental issues. These are good neighbors who want to engage the community as they go about deciding eventual developments and developers. They will reach out to get your ideas. Prepare to be constructive and creative. 


Dave Alexander 

      But dream big. Just look at a Google map of the area and you see the three pearls that need to be strung together: Windward Pointe, the Muskegon Country Club and the Nugent Sand property. They sit immediately adjacent to each other, combining a quarter mile of Lake Michigan, two sand-minded lakes for residential and commercial redevelopment, an historic golf course with residential development potential and a property with a deep-water port that will drive the rebirth of Muskegon Lake.  Now as head of Downtown Muskegon Now, I think there has never been a more exciting time to be in Muskegon. The Windward Pointe tide is going to raise all Muskegon boats.


Let the transformation begin.







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4 comments:

  1. Love the New Muskegon. I have been getting some great pictures of the taking down of the Sappi building and loving the transformation. Thanks Dave for your vision too. Watch mUSkeGOn

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  2. I'm not sure we need more housing. We could use more destination sites on the lake. How about the aquarium that was talked about a few years ago and never happened. Or some water front, higher end camping sites. Grand Haven has done that around where the old Eagle Ottawa site was. So it is on the river, close to town for food and entertainment. The Windward Point Site could be connected to the bike trail. Campers could bike to Lake Michigan or Muskegon!

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