Industrial Park Near I-96 One Step Closer to Reality

Head to the Lowell exit off I-96, and you’ll find a gas station, carpool lot and Heidi’s Farmstand among the fields. However, in a few years, the northwest corner of that interchange could look significantly different.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has awarded $17.5 million to the site from its Strategic Site Readiness Program. The money will be used to build infrastructure needed to provide wastewater services to a 237-acre parcel that runs alongside Alden Nash Ave. and between I-96 and Cascade Road.

Grant Will Help Extend Wastewater Infrastructure

The owner of the property, dubbed the Covenant Business Park, has been trying for years to broker a solution between city and township officials that would allow city sewer services to be extended to I-96.

With the approval of the state grant, it appears that logjam has cleared. Township officials say the grant will be used to create the infrastructure needed to run lines from the city wastewater facility to the business park. However, the facility will also need to be expanded and additional money — either from bonds, grants or another source — will need to be raised to finish the $35 million project.

A 425 agreement will apparently be put into place to cover the cost of that expansion, according to members of the township board. That will allow the City of Lowell to collect tax revenue from businesses located in the business park.

Covenant Business Park to Include Mix of Uses

Franklin Partners is serving as the developer for the project, and Gary Tamminga, its director of facilities, told Lowell’s First Look, “We’d like to put a shovel in the ground this year yet.”

A PUD – planned unit development – was approved for the parcel in 2021, and a preliminary plan has been created that would include the following:

  • 10 buildings of various sizes that would be suitable for industrial uses
  • 4 retail locations that could be restaurants
  • 2 hotels near the I-96 westbound entrance ramp
  • A water tower and wells to provide water service to the site

The plan also calls for the current carpool lot to be relocated behind the existing gas station.

Tamminga notes that the road design for the parcel is likely firm, but the number of buildings and their layout could change depending on which businesses move into the site. Franklin Partners has just recently begun accepting inquiries from businesses interested in building in the park.

Business Park Expected to Create 3,000 Jobs

Examples of buildings that may be located in the Covenant Business Park

The grant application to the state received support from a variety of people and entities. The Right Place submitted the application which included letters of support from the following people:

  • Michael Burns, City Manager for the City of Lowell
  • Jerry Hale, Supervisor for Lowell Charter Township
  • State Representative Gina Johnsen
  • State Representative Joe Tate
  • State Representative Angela Witwer
  • State Representative Phil Skaggs

The Covenant Business Park was one of 18 projects to receive grants from the MEDC Strategic Site Readiness Program. More than 70 applications were received.

According to the grant summary, the park is expected to create 3,000 new jobs with an average wage of $24 per hour.

“Throughout West Michigan, industrial vacancy is essentially zero,” said Duke Suwyn, principal and senior vice president of Advantage Commercial Real Estate in a press release. “Interest in this site has been high and will only increase as infrastructure is connected.”

Community Open Houses Scheduled for Feb. 1 and Feb. 7

Lowell Township hosted the first of three community open houses last night. These events are intended to provide the public with a chance to further review the project, meet with the developer and ask questions.

Additional open houses will be held at Lowell Township Hall on:

  • Thursday, Feb. 1: 5-8pm
  • Wednesday, Feb. 7: 9am-12pm

More information about the project can also be found on The Right Place website.

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