MUSKEGON, MI – A contractor was picked this week to help manage pre-construction work on Muskegon’s proposed 45,000-square-foot convention center.
Clark Construction Company, a Lansing-based contractor, will be paid $38,355 for pre-construction on the proposed $17 million convention center, which will sit on what is now Fourth Street between West Western Avenue and Shoreline Drive. The building will be flanked on either side by the L.C. Walker Arena and the downtown Holiday Inn, which will soon be rebranded as a Delta by Marriott.
Construction on the convention center will be mostly funded through the county’s accommodation taxes and assessments collected from Muskegon hotels. A $6 million renovation to the Holiday Inn that will result in the brand change to Delta by Marriott, and a $1.7 million upgrade to the L.C. Walker Arena brings the total investment at the site to $26 million.
Pre-construction work on the proposed convention center includes reviewing preliminary design plans previously drafted by architects Progressive AE to ensure that the project is completed on time and on budget. Clark Construction also plans to manage the bidding process for sub-contractors hired to complete construction.
The city commission voted on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to approve the pre-construction agreement between the city and Clark Construction.
The company is also one of four finalists that is competing for a construction management contract for the entire project. Clark Construction is expected to be awarded the construction management contract, which City Manager Frank Peterson said should appear before the Musekgon City Commission for final approval within the next few weeks.
If Clark Construction is awarded the construction management contract but fails to meet the city’s established goals, or veers off budget, the city has the right terminate the agreement, said Jeff Salowitz, a partner with Construction Simplified, which was hired by the city to act as a consultant on the convention center project.
Clark Construction’s portfolio of local work includes Muskegon Community College’s Carolyn I. and Peter Sturrus Technology Center and MCC’s main campus arts and humanities renovation, which is currently under construction.
Regarding construction, Commissioner Debra Warren wondered about Clark Construction Company’s commitment to hiring local workers.
Salowitz said that Muskegon County elected officials mandated that local workers be used on the project in some capacity, and that Clark Construction Company used a local work force to complete downtown MCC project.
“We do want a substantial amount of local workers present on this project, we just want to see what the market can bear,” Salowitz said.
Clark Construction was selected to handle pre-construction work by a committee of city and Muskegon County leaders, which also included Jon Rooks, a prominent Muskegon developer and the owner of the Holiday Inn, the Shoreline Inn and Highpoint Flats apartments.
Proposals were also considered from CSM Group, Triangle Associates, Inc., and Visser Brothers, Inc.
Rooks’ Parkland Acquisitions Two LLC will manage convention center operations when it opens, according to an agreement ratified by the city commission at Tuesday’s meeting.
Rooks was chosen to manage the facility because it is expected to be built next to his downtown hotel, which would offer additional breakout space for convention center clients and patrons.
The convention center is expected to boost winter tourism, hotel and motel room rentals, and special events throughout the year.
Salowitz and Peterson explained that convention centers are often unprofitable for the cities and counties that own them, and the companies hired to manage.
The convention center is expected to boost Rooks’ hotel profits, so the developer and the city felt Rooks was in the best position to shoulder the losses, Peterson said.
“The nice thing about this agreement is that we’re not requesting money from them and they aren’t requesting money from us,” he said. “At the end of the day … (Parkland) will be responsible for gains and losses. No one else is in a position to do those things like they are.”
Commissioner Ken Johnson thanked Rooks for stepping up to take on the role of convention center manager so the risk won’t be passed on to city and county taxpayers.