9 big Grand Rapids developments set to come online in 2023

The city’s Economic Development Department will report its 2022 outcomes in the first quarter of 2023, but Gracia said it’s already clear what the report will show.

“Honestly, the demand at this point has not slowed down for us. (There are) still a lot of meetings and ongoing discussions, despite recent news coverage of rising interest rates and the like, but we also know that we’re a growing market, and folks are taking that seriously, and we’re seeing a lot of folks that have been committed to these projects for a significant amount of time really working hard to get their projects done,” he said.

The city is also focused on retaining its base of companies headquartered in Grand Rapids while looking to recruit new ones, whether by connecting developers to tax incentive programs or improving quality of life, Gracia said.

One of the city’s top pain points continues to be a housing shortage at all price points, made worse by the cost of construction materials for builders trying to address it. Gracia said the city is looking to support mixed-use developments whenever possible through legislative policy and incentives.

Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place, an economic development nonprofit that covers eight West Michigan counties, painted a murkier picture of 2023. He forecasted a “kind of bumpy” first half of the year that could delay investment decisions as companies wait for calmer waters. But sometimes the opposite happens, he said.

“Some companies, some investors lean into it, and they see an economic downturn as the time to be optimistic, so it’s too early to tell,” he said.

Heading into 2023, Thelen is excited about developments like the first phase of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s $500 million expansion coming online to add capacity to the region’s transportation network. His biggest concerns are severely low industrial real estate supply and an ongoing talent shortage as the state looks to compete in the EV battery space.

It may be too soon to say how various issues affecting future development will shake out, but these projects are expected to come online in 2023 regardless, bolstering key sectors of Grand Rapids’ economy.

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