MUSKEGON, Mich. — A long-anticipated convention center is closer to becoming a reality after a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning.
City officials and developers gathered at 4th Street and Western Avenue this morning to break ground on the 45,000-square-foot Muskegon Convention Center. The center is projected to open in early 2021.
A study done in 2014 by Conventions, Sports & Leisure Int. said the center will add 139 jobs and have an economic impact of $10 million to the area once completed.
"This convention center project and the idea has been along for a long time in Muskegon," said Bob Lukens, community development director of Visit Muskegon. "There was a study back in 2002 that discussed the feasibility of a convention center and at that time the downtown wasn't developed to the extent that it is now.
"In 2014, we did another study and that showed there was a demand for a convention center in downtown Muskegon. So we pressed forward with that and here we are today five years later, we're at the groundbreaking for the convention center."
The center will be constructed so that it connects to the L.C. Walker Arena and the Holiday Inn hotel. The hotel is currently undergoing a $6 million renovation as well. That is set to be completed this summer.
Mayor Stephen J. Gawron anticipates the project will open the city up to lots of new faces.
"New people are those fresh pair of eyes that come in and give us a critical look," he said. "And most of the time, end up loving us and then go out and tell the rest of the world that 'this is a pretty special place with some pretty special folks, you should go visit too.'"
For more information about the project, head over to Visit Muskegon's website.