The Developer's Troublesome Past

Jefferson County negotiating contract with developer Jack Buchanan Jr.


So, who is Jack Buchanan Jr?

Jack Buchanan Jr. was a developer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, until a few years ago. His endeavors there resulted in a string of unpaid bills, a lawsuit and criminal charges, according to reports on (the website of the Grand Rapids Press). At one point, the three-term mayor of Grand Rapids banned Jack Buchanan from his office, according to the Grand Rapids Business Journal. A few years later things reached a point where his father, Jack Buchanan Sr, a "prominent Grand Rapids attorney", stopped talking with his son, communicating with him through lawyers, reported. went on to say that the father said one of his son's development projects “suddenly went from what appeared to be a very good deal to what was now is (sic) shaping up to look much more like the Titanic.”

Relationship with Mayor

As for Buchanan's relationship with then Mayor John Logie, GRBJ reported in 2003 that "Logie said he hasn’t always banned Buchanan from his office at City Hall." The journal added "In fact, the mayor said he worked closely with Buchanan" on a real estate purchase for the city. But, the paper reported, "Logie told the luncheon crowd that Buchanan fell out of his favor when Buchanan misrepresented to county officials what he told him when Buchanan first approached the city with his idea for a Calder Plaza hotel."

"'After the second time this happened, I told my staff that I didn’t want to meet with him in the future,' said the mayor."


An article on regarding a development project - known as Hangar 42 Studios - involving the father and son quoted a letter Jack Sr. is said to have sent to Jack Jr.

“'Right now we feel like a Bernie Madoff investor,' Buchanan Sr. wrote to his son in an impassioned July 2009 letter asking him to explain why the investment was unraveling. 'We placed our trust, our money and our retirement future in your hands. We could not believe that you, our oldest son, would intentionally deceive his parent into this extremely dangerous deal for the selfish purpose of bailing yourself out of a financial mess.'”

The article reported that Jack Sr. also wrote in the same July 2009 letter, “To say this partnership with you has been a disaster, both financially and personally, would be a gross understatement. We have not only lost our retirement savings and our freedom to enjoy retirement in our declining years, but this business relationship with you has also had a devastating effect on our family.” also quoted from an email Jack Sr. reportedly sent to his real estate attorney about the same project.

“Jack Jr. is dead broke and needs this deal to survive financially. He is on the ropes which explains his irrational thinking and volatile behavior.”

Criminal Charges

A few months later, reported that Jack Buchanan Jr. was charged with two felony counts by the Michigan Attorney General for his alleged actions tied to the same development project. He faced "one count of conspiracy to commit felony false pretenses and one count of attempted felony false pretenses over $20,000." According to the article, the AG "announced he filed two counts against Buchanan, 48, in 61st District Court in Kent County that allege the developer conspired to fraudulently obtain a $10 million tax credit from the state by crafting false documentation showing he had sold a portion of the former Lear Plant for $40 million. The application was unsuccessful and no money was paid out by the state." Many months later a judge dismissed the charges, "because," according to, "there wasn't enough evidence to support the allegations."

Contractor Allegations

The previous year, a contractor who said he was owed more than $200,000 from Buchanan for work on the project "said developer Jack Buchanan Jr. told contractors they wouldn't get paid for their work on the former Lear plant if they talked to the media," according to an article on The contractor, John Beck, was quoted by as saying, "His remarks have been straight up that if we open our mouths, we're going to kill his deal, thus jeopardizing payment for us. In his book, that's not threatening. In my book, it is."

At a commissioner's meeting earlier this month, the president of the Daniels Welchester Neighborhood Association, which opposes the correctional facility, told the commissioner's that Buchanan had threatened her with a lawsuit in what she believes was an attempt to silence her opposition.

There's a lot more to read about Jack Buchanan Jr. by clicking the links below.

Tell Jeffco NO!

We need you to step up and tell the commissioners not to approve a contract to give millions of your tax dollars to developer Jack Buchanan Jr. Use the links below to email the commissioners today.

Even more important, be at the Taj Mahal TODAY - Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 8 o'clock in the morning. The commissioners plan to approve the contract at that meeting. Be there to show your opposition and, if you like, you will have three minutes to tell the commissioners what you think of this deal.

The question we need to ask the Jefferson County commissioners and County Administrator Ralph Schell is this...Did you do any due diligence to find out who you were dealing with before negotiating a multi-million dollar contract with this developer?

If the answer is they didn't know about his past, that's inexcusable.

If they did know about his past and still went ahead with the deal, that calls into question the judgement of our county commissioners..

Stories and other information about Jack Buchanan Jr.

  • Jack Buchanan Jr. Bio: Bio
  • Grand Rapids Business Journal, Grand Rapids mayor banned Buchanan from his office at city hall - 6/27/2003: Article
  • Grand Rapids Business Journal, City pummels Buchanan's project - 6/27/2003: Article
  •, Hangar 42 Studios Open - 2/4/2010: Article
  •, Questions about tax credit - 5/20/2010: Article
  •, Contractor wants to be paid - 5/22/2010: Article
  •, Buchanan Jr. said to threaten contractor - 6/12/2010: Article
  •, Jr & Sr. sued for not paying contractors - 8/6/2010: Article
  •, Father-son issues - 9/26/2010: Article
  •, Michigan's Attorney General files two felony charges against Buchanan Jr. - 1/25/2011: Article
  •, Buchanan Jr. reports to jail - 1/30/2011: Article
  •, Affidavit from Michigan AG's office: Affidavit
  •, "Court dismisses charges" - 9/9/2011: Article
  • Grand Rapids TV8, Court rules against tax credits - 4/23/2014: Article


Email the Jefferson County Commissions

Email the commissioners today and tell them what you think of the county signing a contract with Jack Buchanan Jr.

Jeffco Commissioners

Commissioner Libby Szabo
Commissioner Casey Tighe
Commissioner Donald Rosier
County Administrator Ralph Schell



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