Savannah at Waterford Village – Crains

Published: April 6, 2023

Housing developers find their next big opportunity at golf courses

Crains | Rachel Watson | April 6, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS — Developers across West Michigan are seizing a prime opportunity to turn the region’s abundance of golf courses into badly needed housing.

Long considered a golf mecca, Michigan is third in the nation behind California and Florida for the number of golf courses, with 738 public courses as of the end of 2022, according to the National Golf Foundation. According to Pure Michigan, the state’s travel bureau, about 115 of those golf courses are on the west side of the state.

But due to a decline in interest in the sport, driven by generational shifts in leisure pursuits, the number of Michigan golf courses has fallen significantly since the state hit a peak of nearly 1,000 courses in 2000.

Golf’s regression may represent an opportunity for developers, as Kent County in particular looks to close a housing gap of nearly 35,000 units by 2027.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said in a recent media briefing with Housing Next — a group working to close the housing gap — that the city will need the cooperation of the many Kent County suburbs that have golf courses available to redevelop, because the city has no land bank authority and very little available property left to develop.

“It’s (about) how do we get more creative,” she said.

Walker, Kent County
Anthony Rodriguez and Rick Cavenaugh of Barrington, Ill.-based Stoneleigh Cos., are building Savannah at Waterford Village at the former Lincoln Country Club at 3485 Lake Michigan Drive NW, which closed in 2021.

The project will include a clubhouse and 250 luxury one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with rents ranging from $1,800 to $2,575. Construction on the multifamily component began in January and is expected to wrap in two years. Pre-leasing will begin the first week in July, with the first building open for occupancy at the end of September, Rodriguez said.

The clubhouse will include a fitness studio, resident lounge, business center, terrace, outdoor dining with barbecue grills, walking trails surrounding a pond, a wetlands area and dog park.

Stoneleigh also received zoning approval for five commercial lots and 68 lots of single-family housing on-site. Rodriguez said the lots are listed for sale, and if he “had to guess,” those home values will ultimately be priced somewhere between $350,000 and $450,000 once built.

Rodriguez said the 36-acre site was “highly attractive” for a mixed-use development because it’s a “walkable community.”

“The site has great access off Lake Michigan Drive NW, a major arterial road with convenience to downtown Grand Rapids (10 minutes),” he said in an email to Crain’s.