MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Jeff Jacobson remembers the streets of downtown Muskegon when he first opened Unruly Brewing on Western Avenue in 2013.
“When we first moved down here, there was really nothing, especially on this side of the street. Across the street from us was just empty building,” said Jacobson.
The change in that five-year span has been dramatic.
“Century Block next door to us grew up with a bunch of businesses in there. Then they put in the Western Market down the street from us. There are all kinds of new building going in right across the street from us,” Jacobson said.
Community leaders are hoping to continue that momentum with this week’s announcement of plans for a $17 million convention center for downtown Muskegon.
Muskegon leaders began talking about a convention center for Muskegon in the late 1980's. In 2002, a feasibility study indicated the numbers just weren't there to support a facility.
In 2014, that study was revisited. The revised study indicated a convention center is worth the investment.
Something else was happening to support that conclusion, as signs of a building boom began to emerge downtown — a boom that continues taking shape.
“The growth in Muskegon has been tremendous, and throughout the county had really been accelerating within the past, probably five years,” said Bob Lukens, who heads up Visit Muskegon, the county’s convention and visitors’ bureau.