Prior to being sold to developers in 2005, the site was home of blighted property and contaminated land on a 23-acre site stretching south to Jackson Street and west to the river-crossing railroad tracks.
While the condos, several restaurants and retail center were built, original plans for the site included a hotel and conference center, several other retail and residential components, office space, an outdoor theater, and an extension of the boardwalk from Third Street to the highway.
In the receivership, Distel explained, the bank continues to finance the project and it would be maintained in a status-quo way.
“Our role is to maintain the property, manage a budget provided by the HOA (homeowners association) and Comerica Bank, collect HOA dues, and market the property for sale,” he said.
According to Distel, Comerica Bank is funding more than 85 percent of the costs. He said the bank has no obligation to fund any of these costs, and the owners receive “a substantial benefit” from Comerica’s funding.
“We as the receiver have no legal obligation to fund costs, nor would have a right to be reimbursed for doing so,” Distel said.
Distel said the budget they are operating on includes three part-time maintenance workers, a handy man, outside lawn care, outside snow removal, and a repair budget that involves hiring specialty companies for items like electrician work and plumbing.
“We recently attended a meeting with the owners on the Grand Landing site, and asked for their input on repairs and improvements,” Distel said. “We developed a list of repairs and prioritized the items. We then aligned our budgeted resources in the most useful, cost-effective and responsible manner. We have been making significant progress on the list.”
Despite this progress on a list of improvements, Grand Landing resident Steve Marshall said he has some concerns about the way the property is being maintained. Although he said some of the appearance items have been addressed by O’Keefe, there are concerns about missing siding, damaged ceiling tiles, burned-out light bulbs, missing appliance books and the lack of a name on the buzzer.
“If you can’t get my name on the buzzer after eight months, I question your ability to take care of anything,” Marshall said. “... I know we’re in a temporary situation because O’Keefe was assigned to the receivership.”
Marshall said the best-case scenario would be to have someone purchase the existing buildings.
“I imagine someone that comes along would invest their own capital and have the same concerns that owners have,” Marshall said.
According to Distel, there is a balancing act involved in maintaining the property and making repairs.
“Obviously, there is a balance of what an individual owner’s definition is for ‘maintaining a property,’ but we as the receiver have to operate within reasonable cost limitations and the decisions of Comerica, the owners as a group, and the HOA,” Distel said.
While Marshall said he wished things could be maintained better, other individuals visiting the property said they found it to be in good condition.
Tripp Fine, who was visiting the Grand Haven Culver’s location while on his way from the Grand Haven State Park, said he routinely passes the site on his way to the beach and notices how it looks.
“It seems to be maintained,” he said. “It would be nice to see the project developed more fully.”
Fine said the empty field with the construction trailer would be nice to see cleaned up.
These comments aren’t unfamiliar for Distel. He said over the last two months he has received compliments from approximately seven individuals who have commented that the Grand Landing property looked “outstanding.”
According to Distel, the entire property — including the undeveloped parcel that was slated for a hotel/conference center — is up for sale, as are the individual condominium units.
“Upon a sale, it would be very unlikely that we would continue as the receiver, but we would likely serve as a party to assist in the transition to the new owner,” Distel said.
He said they are hoping to get it in the hands of a capitalized developer who can complete the project.