West Michigan Retail Hot Spots

Throughout the last century, the physical spaces of commerce have consistently been shaped by changing technology. The development of technology and its adoption in the form of infrastructure describe the arc of the retail experience through the 20th century and into the present. However, most Americans feel shopping in a physical space is still a culturally dominant practice.

There is an aspect in retail shopping that online shopping has yet to fully capture or fulfill for customers. An innate desire toward the physical, to hold, see, connect and find oneself in the form of objects. Shopping alleviates stresses and excites us. The act of shopping is not merely the acquisition of goods, it is an accepted form of leisure and entertainment.

People shop retail as a way to connect with a specific brand, to experience products first-hand and to interact with individuals who are ambassadors to represent these brands.

In West Michigan we have recently seen a number of projects transform business, living, and social interactions. Most of these projects are designed and implemented with a retail element.

“West Michigan has gained so much publicity over recent years that the nationals are taking notice and looking at this market first before Detroit and the east side of the state,” said retail advisor Chris Prins. “But the question is still out there: With main corridors almost full, where will be the next retail hot spot in the area?”

The “de-malled” Shops at Westshore in Holland has attracted a variety of new retailers and will take up more than 65,500 square feet of new retail space. The project’s investors started the $25 million “de-malling” renovation by the lake shore last year and is expected to be finished by the end of summer 2016.

Formerly known as Westshore Mall, The Shops at Westshore is a premier open-air lifestyle center.

A few miles inward, the city of Grand Rapids offers a huge range of entertainment, dining, shopping and sightseeing opportunities. Downtown and the West Side are gaining steam in retail, with a variety of projects finishing up or proposed, including several major out-of-market breweries as well as a Rockford Construction-proposed project that will bring a Meijer to the near-downtown market.

With community inspired initiatives in place like GR Forward working on transforming the Grand River into a distinct asset, organizations such as Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. are helping support the next generation of growth in Downtown Grand Rapids — which anchors one of the fastest growing regions in the United States.

The West Side is encompasses three business districts each offering its own unique walkable “small-town” feel.

Moving away from the city’s center, 28th Street will continue to grow as Grand Rapids gains attention from national retailers. Shops at CenterPoint is a 575,000 square foot open air center located at the intersection of 28th Street and East Beltline Avenue. The newly renovated center features premiere shopping and dining and continues to be a popular destination for all of West Michigan.

With new and exciting projects on the horizon, explosive growth is to be expected on the M-6 and Broadmoor corridor. Two new hotels will be built to handle business traffic that will be generated by Switch’s conversion of the former Steelcase pyramid into a regional data center. At 2 million square feet, the facility will be the largest data center in the eastern United States, and at full capacity, the company is expected to generate an additional 1,000 jobs for the West Michigan community.

The project will be built around the Pyramid, a unique office property built in 1989 by the Steelcase furniture company.

We may be in the middle of the digital age, but that works both ways in retail. Despite the ever-growing popularity of mobile shopping, we don’t expect physical stores to die out any time soon. Consumers deserve convenience, but they deserve a full and traditional shopping experience should they want that too.

2016 has been a big year for retailers, but we predict 2017 will be even bigger. 78% of Michigan retailers reported sales were as good as or better than a year ago, and the Michigan retail index rose to a rating of 65.1, up from 47.4 in May of last year. All of the trends listed in our second quarter retail market report point to one simple thing — positive growth.

To read our full retail market report, feel free to visit our website at: colliers.com/westmichigan.