| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Development News

1704 Articles | Page: | Show All

New Noco Provisions offers regional classics from around the country

"We're very excited to be the latest edition of this specific corner of the city," says Patrick Kneese, general manager at Noco Provisions. Opening today, July 27, for happy hour and dinner, Noco Provisions is a new venture by Steve Millman, who heads up Northstar Commercial Real Estate.

Millman sought out Kneese for his twenty-year restaurant experience, and enticed him to move his family to Grand Rapids from Denver to craft the vision for the new restaurant. Chef Adam Watts also brings his experience to the team, having relocated from Boulder to GR five years ago. Kneese notes that the two were hired to "help contribute some fresh ideas to an already reputable restaurant and hospitality community."

Located at the former site of the Forest Hills Inn at the corner of Forest Hills Avenue and Cascade Road, the Noco team applied a "really cool, fresh design to an existing space," says Kneese, who adds that they only kept two existing walls in the renovation. "Everything is brand new," he says.

The menu is also a new creation, crafted to reflect and enhance "regional comfort classics" from around the country, like fried chicken with chorizo gravy, ahi tuna poke, and the humble burger. "Our burger is just fantastic," says Kneese. Noco will also offer vegan options like the Hoppin' Jane, a twist on the peasant dish Hoppin' John. "Chef Adam has done a wonderful take on it," adds Kneese.

Opening just for dinner at first, Noco will expand to brunch this weekend, and lunch in a few weeks. With a fresh design and a focus on approachability, Knees and the team hope to fill a niche in the Forest Hills area. "We don't want to be the place you go to once a year, we want to be the place you go to a few times a week," he says.

Michigan native publishes YA beach novel

Michigan native Erin McCahan recently returned home to promote her new book, "The Lake Effect." Described as "A funny, bracing, poignant YA romance and coming-of-age for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Beginning of Everything," this novel is an exciting read for Michiganders or anyone in search of a fun, beachy getaway.

McCahan sat down with our editor to discuss her new book and writing career in this development news Q&A.

Tell me about your road to publishing. How and when did you publish your first book?

My road to publishing was like most people’s—long and rocky, with wrong turns, dead-ends and more than one meltdown. My very first agent turned out to be a con artist. Turns out she bilked thousands of writers out of millions of dollars and ended up in prison.

After that, it was a few years before I found another, legitimate agent, who tried for three or four years to sell a mainstream adult manuscript of mine. And I kept getting close, having small successes without the thing ever being published. It was optioned by a movie producer for a couple of years. It never became a movie, but the option was enough encouragement for me to keep writing.

Throughout that time, I was working as a youth minister, surrounded by 12- to 18-year-olds, and one day it occurred to me that I had a ton of fodder for novels right in front of me. So I wrote my first YA novel, found a new agent and sold the book in a relatively short amount of time.

Why YA? What attracts you to this particular genre?

It really was my work with teens that led me to it. Once I began reading all the really fabulous novels available—that weren’t when I was a teenager—I fell in love with it.

Do you perceive any challenges or benefits to forging your writing career while growing up in Ohio?

I grew up in landlocked Columbus, Ohio, wholly against my will. My father died young, and, after my mother re-married, my step-dad’s career took us to Columbus when I was nearly 5. Had I been accorded a vote at the time, it would have been a resounding no. Except we were Episcopalian, so that would have been, no, thank you. I’m from Grand Rapids, which is about 30 miles east of Grand Haven, where my family and I spent chunks of every summer even after we moved. My mother’s family had a cottage there. Even though I resided — and still reside—in Columbus —Michigan has always been home. It’s in my blood. Something about that lake. And for me, family and life’s experiences influence my writing more than location or anything else, really.

Any specific references to South Haven that the locals would recognize?

Yes, anyone who has been to South Haven will recognize North Beach, the snack bar, the drawbridge over the Black River, the town and South Pier Lighthouse.

What do you miss most about living in Michigan year round?

My grandparents first and foremost. Second, the lake. Every lake, but especially the Big Lake. It’s even gorgeous in the winter.

Any advice for would-be Michigan authors?

Don’t move! And please invite me up for the weekend. I’ll bring wine and sunscreen.

GR Poet Laureate & KFG Embark on National Poetry Tour

Two poets. Five months. A bevy of cities.

Utilizing poetry as the vehicle to explore the topic of mental health, recently named Grand Rapids poet Laureate Marcel 'Fable' Price and business partner and fellow poet KFG are about to embark on a nation-wide spoken-word poetry tour. Named, "The Unpacking Tour," the two poets aim to perform their poetry for audiences interested in mental health, spreading a message of self-confidence and self-care and inviting everyone to increase their mental health awareness.

"It's a pretty broad journey," says KFG, who notes that the tour will begin on the East Coast, and reach to Washington State. But why this specific message for such a broad audience? Excited to kick start another poetry tour (this is Price's second), but wanting their art to communicate an important message, the two poets sought a common thread.

"The two of us are different in very many ways," says KFG, but despite their differences, they are also very similar. The poet notes that they both had tumultuous childhoods, and were raised under various forms of abuse, leading them to experience mental health issues. "This is something that we're both really passionate about," says KFG.

KFG also feels that discussing these issues honestly is very important for both poets and the diverse groups they represent. "To have that kind of visibility for him as a black man, a biracial man and to have me as a queer, non-binary person to be translucent with our experiences [is important]," the poet adds. "Often have to keep those things shoved down just in order to survive."

KFG and Price will begin their tour in early August. Though they have settled on most of their performance locations, they are still seeking to fill a few gaps in the schedule. Most notably, KFG is excited to perform at the Green Mill in Chicago in September. "That is one of the longest standing, most historical spots for poetry…where poetry really began in America," the poet adds.

Finalizing plans for the trip and continuing her fundraising efforts, KFG can't wait to reach audiences with a positive message about mental health.

Most importantly, the poet wants to communicate, "There is strength through vulnerability."

To stay up to date on the tour, visit KFG or Price's Facebook pages.

To donate to their GoFundMe campaign, click here.

GVSU announces new medical building, warm design

Grand Valley State University is staking another large claim on Michigan's medical mile, with a recently approved $70 million expansion to their downtown Grand Rapids health campus. The building with saddle up to the existing Grand Valley's Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, providing a pair of state-of-the-art facilities.

"Demand has exceeded our ability to accept highly qualified students, and these two new buildings, right in the middle of the city's vibrant medical community, will provide exceptional opportunities for more students to attend Grand Valley and benefit from the unique combination of liberal education with professional training," said Provost Maria Cimitile in the July 14 press release. "This combination makes our graduates highly employable by area hospitals and medical facilities."

As the demand for medical and health studies increases, so does the competition. Right next door, Michigan State University hosts students at its College of Human Medicine, and just down the road, the completion of MSU's brand new $88 million Research Center is imminent. Universities with medical programs and health professionals are flocking to Grand Rapids, all to be part of the bourgeoning health scene.

With this new building, GVSU demonstrates its commitment to the field, and their prominence in the Grand Rapids area. What sets the university apart is the design of the new building, shown in the most recent renderings. In stark contrast to the existing Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, this new structure will exude a warm, inviting look. Sources at GVSU comment that this differing design is aimed at fitting the structure into the Midtown community, unlike the typical design of cold, sterile glass.

This attention to detail is particularly important in the neighborhood of Midtown, which has experienced a dizzying amount of development and change in the past few years.

And commitment to community is important, especially with $70.1 million, a total of 18 percent of GVSU's funding, is coming from the state of Michigan.

"It's incredibly gratifying for the Legislature to again recognize Grand Valley as the state's most efficiently managed university and our investment in our students and their promising medical careers," said John Kennedy, chair of the Grand Valley Board of Trustees in that same press release. "And the university achieves high performance while still keeping tuition lower than the majority of other public universities in the state. Students are graduating and employers are recognizing their talent. They're staying in Michigan and giving back to their communities."

New owners kick off what hopes to be a vibrant second act for DT Muskegon’s Smash Wine Bar & Bistro

When the original Smash Wine Bar & Bistro closed for business in August of last year, it wasn’t clear what would be done with the now emptied space it had occupied since October 2013—a storage room turned restaurant located in the basement level of downtown Muskegon’s historic Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts.
 
Although ownership of the restaurant changed hands shortly after its summer 2016 closing, President and CEO Chris McGuigan of the Muskegon County Community Foundation, which currently owns the Frauenthal Center, decided she wasn’t ready to give up on Smash quite yet. 
 
“She spoke with the new owners who then came up with a proposal for reopening Smash with some minor changes so that we could bring it back to downtown Muskegon,” says Annah Crow, marketing director for Smash Wine Bar & Bistro, which held a successful grand re-opening event on July 7 after testing the waters with a soft opening a few days prior on July 5.
 
Originally built in 1929, the Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts in downtown Muskegon is home to not only the historic Frauenthal Theater, but also the Beardsley Theater, Clark-Cannon Gallery, several meeting rooms, two rehearsal halls, and now in its basement level, Smash Wine Bar & Bistro.
 
Operating out of a basement area space originally intended for storage, the new Smash Wine Bar & Bistro has had a facelift since its first iteration. New owners at CNK Management have not only given the space an overall aesthetic makeover, but have also created more outdoor patio seating with additional seating available in the Frauenthal upstairs lobby on non-show nights. 
 
Crow says much of the renovation had to do with opening up and modernizing the space, installing things like a ceiling-to-floor water feature, blue-hued LED lights that run in a wave pattern along the length of the wall beside the staircase that leads down into Smash’s dining room, and a giant picture window between the kitchen and the guest dining area. 
 
“We installed a giant picture window there to try and help open up the kitchen space and connect it to the rest of the basement there, and it’s more interactive because you can see the chefs working and get a peek at all of the behind-the-scenes action,” says Crow. 
 
Crow says she is also excited about the addition of new Head Chef Char Morse, a Culinary Institute of Michigan graduate from the Muskegon area who is well-known locally for teaching classes at the Muskegon Farmer’s Market incubator kitchen, Kitchen 242, and her appearances on WZZM 13’s morning news show.  
 
Morse handcrafted Smash’s new menu from scratch using her own recipes, hoping to create fresh twists on old favorites, allowing customers to explore new flavors in something that feels more familiar. Menu options range from blackened shrimp tacos, glazed salmon and seared Ahi Tuna to prime rib and chicken pesto pasta, along with a full cocktail, beer, and wine menu.
 
“Bringing (Morse) in was huge for us because it’s one thing for us to create a new menu from pre-made stuff, but it’s a whole other thing to have a handmade, chef-inspired menu,” Crow says, adding that these updated classic dishes are also a great way to make the world of fine wine and dining more accessible to everyone.
 
She says while Muskegon is and always has been a destination city for its proximity to the lakeshore and it’s other unique qualities, it’s got a little bit of catching up to do when it comes to its food scene. 
 
“(In Grand Rapids) there are a lot of different choices and places to go, but here in Muskegon…we don’t have a ton of those nicer or more experimental restaurants in the area and we are really trying to fill that gap,” says Crow. “We want our restaurant to be an experience, to be somewhere that you can learn something new at every time you come in.”
 
Now officially open for business, Smash Wine Bar & Bistro’s summer 2017 hours are Monday-Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit Smash Wine Bar & Bistro on Facebook or online at www.smashwinebar.com
 
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Smash Wine Bar & Bistro

TowerPinkster forges ahead with first-floor expansion of historic Heartside office space

Since 2013, when TowerPinkster moved its operations to the second floor of the former Junior Achievement building at 4 East Fulton Street, the architecture, engineering, and interior design firm poised itself with plans to grow. 
 
It didn’t take long for the TowerPinkster team to develop and implement its own three-year strategic plan, aimed at fostering the growth of everything from clientele, markets, and services offered to acquiring and retaining talent, as well as expanding its team into the Grand Rapids community. 
 
From there, it only took about a year to double the size of its staff and take over the remainder of the building’s second floor, and with the firm’s overall growth holding steady throughout 2015 and 2016, TowerPinkster found itself on the cusp of the 2017 new year poised once more to expand.
 
While still remaining in its existing second floor office suite, TowerPinkster showcased the newest addition—the south side of the Heartside building’s first level—at an open house earlier this month attended by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. 
 
“I want to thank TowerPinkster for really reimagining this space, which sat empty for so long and bringing it back to life,” she told community members during the event. “I’m so excited to see that they are growing and doing so much incredible work in this community...In addition to all of the work that they do in this community, they are attracting incredible talent to our city, which we all know is crucial to the success of our city.”
 
TowerPinkster provided the architectural design and engineering services to building owners at Locus Development, who brought on Pioneer Construction as the project’s general contractor.The interior office furniture and workspace equipment was provided by Interphase Interiors and Haworth, Inc. 
 
Bringing the first-floor of the old building into the 21st Century, workstations feature cool tech like electric sit-to-stand desks, large collaborative spaces, private conference rooms, and the latest in-video conferencing technology. 
 
“We have opened the first level suite in an effort to continue the vision of the company to strengthen the firm and its presence in the Grand Rapids community,” says TowerPinkster President and CEO, Bjorn Green. “We aim to support the community at large, bring talented employees to the West Michigan area, and support our clients in everything that we do.”
 
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of TowerPinkster 

Eightyfive Miles celebrates all things Great Lakes with new lifestyle, apparel brand

As founders of their own lifestyle, apparel and accessories brand, Eightyfive Miles, siblings Carey Potter and Brian Schwartz think that when it comes to business, making profits and doing what’s right don’t have to be mutually exclusive goals.

“It’s so important for us to do the right thing, and that’s why all of our branding, design branding, design and printing is done right here in West Michigan and why we are dedicated to giving back a portion of our profits to Great Lakes conservation,” says Schwartz , who co-founded the new Great Lakes inspired brand alongside his sister, Carey Potter, in December 2016.

Inspired by the fact that from any point in the state of Michigan, you’re never more than 85 miles away from a Great Lake, the West Michigan startup clothing and accessory company features “high-quality, casual and youthful lifestyle apparel,” for which co-founders went through an intensive branding development process to finalize.

“Eightyfive Miles will do more than offer t-shirts with Michigan logos on them. Our style is best defined as ‘preppy, classic, youthful and fun.’ We are dedicated to providing high quality products with a style that is not only affordable but also uniquely Michigan and Midwestern,” Potter says.

Right now only available on their website via the Eightyfive Miles online store, initial product lines include a wide array of short sleeve and long sleeve t-shirts, a first-edition ‘Stars ‘n Stripes’ t-shirt, baseball caps, stickers, stainless steel water bottles, coasters, can coolers and more.

While there are definite plans to establish a brick and mortar boutique in the near feature, Schwartz says right now, the brand is still getting its sea legs, so to speak, but still remains committed to focusing on keeping things close to home.

“We just literally launched on Saturday and we are actively establishing our brand, but what's important is that all of our brand establishment, legal and product development has taken place in Grand Rapids,” says Schwartz, adding that local companies like Reagan Marketing and Design helped with Eightyfive Miles’ logo and branding, Public Thread’s Janay Brower helped with the ad-hoc sewing and Jennifer Puplava and Mika Meyers did the brands trademark work. Additionally, Schwartz and Potter recently hired another local, Kirsten DelVecchio, to help with retail chain development.

“So, we are keenly focused on Grand Rapids,” he says.

Dedicated to fair labor practices and giving back locally, Eightyfive Miles owners try to ensure all of their product manufacturers are Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certified and have pledged to donate 3 percent of all profits to Great Lakes conservation efforts.

“We want our customers to feel good about our products,” Schwartz says.

For more information about Eightyfive Miles or to shop new products online, visit www.eightyfivemiles.com

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Eightyfive Miles


Green Giftz prepares for grand reopening in custom-designed Ottawa Avenue office space

With a ribbon cutting ceremony set for September 21, family-owned specialty product designer and manufacturer Green Giftz is gearing up for its grand re-opening in a recently refurbished office space at 532 Ottawa Ave. NW.

Specializing in eco-friendly, sustainable and custom promotional products, Green Giftz calls itself a “branded merchandise dealer,” based in West Michigan while serving an international client base.

After outgrowing its old suite, a smaller space in North Monroe’s Brassworks building, Green Giftz owner Karen Scarpino partnered with Custer Inc. to redesign the 2,700-square-foot offices, designing the new space to meet the brand’s existing “industrial charm” with a modern sophistication in a more expansive space.

“We designed their new space with that same character in mind and used a sophisticated, neutral palette that better reflects their brand,” says Alex Genzink, interior project designer at Custer Inc, adding that the new building’s interior, which will serve as Green Giftz showroom, office space and entertaining venue for the Green Giftz family, includes elements that include mixed materials, light woodgrains and vintage inspired lighting.

With large open windows that allow for ample natural light, the new open floor plan features collaborative desks, a new kitchen and open work cafe area, fireplace and entryway sofa.

“As a business owner, I often spend more waking hours at our office than in our home, so I see our office as an extension of home and our employees and customers as family,” says Scarpino, who operates the business alongside her husband and daughter. “Custer helped us design a space that works for our employees and inspires them to do great work. The design offers so many positive benefits for our employees, including abundant natural light and team work spaces.”

With old rustic warehouse windows repurposed as wall accents, and reclaimed barn wood worked seamlessly into the updated design, Custer Inc. designers also incorporated raw materials from Green Giftz inventory, giving new life to fabric used to make table covers by refashioning it into noise-absorbing ceiling treatments over the office conference table below.

“We wanted a space that was open, warm, inviting and collaborative, and also reflected our values,” Scarpino says.

For more information about Green Giftz, visit www.greengiftz.com.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Custer, Inc.


New “active lifestyle” franchise launches first Michigan location in Grandville with fundraiser

Following its grand opening on June 9, the new CoreLife Eatery is now open for business, the first Michigan location of the growing franchise that brands itself as an “active lifestyle” restaurant.

 

Located at 3158 44th Street, CoreLife Eatery offers a menu dominated by greens, grains, and broth-based dishes, with additional customizable options -- all crafted with ingredients free of trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, other additives, and GMOS.

 

“First and foremost, [CoreLife Eatery] is a restaurant that focuses on healthy eating alternatives, but ones that are also quick,” says Stephen Donnelly, spokesperson for CoreLifeEatery. “People always want to eat healthier, but they don’t have easy access to it, or it’s not affordable, or just not quick enough. So what we wanted to do with the creation of CoreLife eatery is to have a brand that would allow people another option for healthy eating that is also quick.”

 

Alongside handcrafted fruit drinks like beet lemonade and tropical green tea, CoreLife Eatery’s menu features “green bowls,” “grain bowls,” and “broth bowls” in pre-made recipes, with a fourth create-your-own option. The chicken and steak used in CoreLife bowls are sustainably raised without hormones or antibiotics, and the restaurant’s bone broth is slow-simmered each day.

 

“People don’t typically get excited about [health food]… so we wanted to make sure we combined a lot of great flavors in our menu,” says Donnelly. “Beyond that, CoreLife Eatery is also really big on making sure people not only eat healthier, but also live healthier.”

 

Prior to its June 9 official grand opening, CoreLife Eatery Grandville hosted a “pay what you want” day, where guests were invited to dine from the new menu for a donation amount of their own choosing. Following the pre-opening event, 100 percent of the proceeds—a total of $7,173 —was donated to Special Olympics of Michigan.

 

Donnelly says that events like this are common practice for the CoreLife Brand, which at each of its new locations makes an effort to partner with local health clubs, fitness groups, and yoga studios for community events and fundraisers that promote healthy lifestyles and economic growth in their communities.

 

“Any new community we go into…we partner with local businesses to put on events not only to encourage people to eat healthier, but also to live healthier, as well,” says Donnelly. “…those events are really important for us, and we do those for every market. One of the things that is important for us is not to just say we want to be involved in the local community, but to actually demonstrate it.”

 

Since launching its flagship location in Syracuse in 2015, CoreLife Eatery has opened nearly a dozen new franchise locations in in New York and Ohio, with a dozen more scheduled to open throughout the year. CoreLife Eatery Grandville marks the opening of the first Michigan location for the franchise—a deliberate move for the growing company based on the results of extensive market research and review.

 

“Anytime we go into an area we really look at what is the makeup of the area is and what the community looks like,” says Donnelly. “We do demographic studies to find out more about the population, what the ages are, what the occupations are, what the makeup of kids versus adults is. From what we analyzed, Grandville, in particular, was a really good area for us to be in.”

 

As one of the cities on the outskirts of the arguably oversaturated downtown Grand Rapids restaurant scene, Donnelly says Grandville presented itself as an opportunity for CoreLife to establish its brand early in a city that is poised for its own growth spurt in the coming years.

 

“From our perspective, we felt like it was a market that was very synergistic with the brand, somewhere that the brand could thrive,” he says. “We’re excited to be in Grandville, the market has really excited us and welcomed us with open arms and so we’re looking forward to being a part of the local community and giving back to it where we can.”

 

For more information on CoreLife Eatery’s menu, active lifestyle concept, or upcoming community events, visit www.eatatcore.com or find CoreLife here on Facebook.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of CoreLife Eatery

 

Local First workshop encourages local businesses to establish equitable business practices, invest

About a year ago, employees at the nonprofit organization Local First started setting aside some time out of each staff meeting to be reserved specifically for discussion and debate.

 

Led by a different staff member each time, employees volunteer to bring in an article or video about a wide range of topics that are somehow related to issues or ideas surrounding things like inclusion, diversity, equity, and cultural competency, and then for about 10-15 minutes, they just listen to each other.

 

We discuss those articles and learn from the different perspectives and I think it’s helped us to shift our own perspective,” says Elissa Hillary, president of Local First. “…(We) have more empathy for others and all of the different kinds of experiences people can have.”

 

She says these discussions have changed the way her organization thinks about its own programming, a constant reminder to consider all of the different kinds of perspectives or circumstances that can shape a person’s experience, and to try harder as an organization to be proactive in removing any potential barriers for equal opportunity.

 

“With this most recent street party event, it prompted us to make sure we had barrier-free access for people with wheelchairs or strollers so they could get to the front of the stage to see the show, and make sure all of our signage was bilingual,” says Hillary. “When you have a heightened awareness, all kinds of things can spring from these conversations.”

 

And while honest dialogue is a necessary catalyst for any kind of advancement seeking a more inclusive and equitable culture, so is knowing how to create actionable steps that implement real change. During the most recent installment of the 2017 Measure What Matters workshop series, panelists taught participants how to do just that.

 

Hosted at the offices of LINC Community Revitalization at 1167 Madison Ave. SE, the workshop titled “Implementing Policies Promoting Inclusion and Equity” explored the importance of supporting an inclusive local economy, providing its participants—largely members of local and small business community—with the resources to develop and implement equitable and inclusive practices under their own roofs.

 

During the workshop, a panel of four different diversity and inclusion experts offered insights into creating ethical business practices that promote access and inclusion for people with mental and physical differences. Participants learned not only how to create official value statements and written inclusion policies for their businesses, but also ways to implement company-wide policies and encourage conversations among employees.
 

“Small businesses are uniquely poised to be in contact and in relationships with their communities, and we see that both in the services and things they offer,” says Hillary says. “But that can also be true in the way they hire and recruit employees from the neighborhoods in which they are located and those surrounding neighborhoods.”

 

While having a concrete statement for a businesses inclusion and equity policy can definitely help an organization define itself externally, Hillary says its even more valuable when it comes to internal decision making.

 

“There are a multitude of ways that having a specific [inclusion and equity] statements or policies around diversity, inclusion, and equity can make a difference,” she says. “It can affect the way an organization thinks about hiring, the way an organization thinks about procurement and purchasing, the way an organization thinks about any number of things.”

 

When it comes to what kind of business practices fall under that umbrella of diversity, inclusion, and equity, Hillary says it’s a pretty wide range and oftentimes varies depending on the specific needs of a business’ employees or community.

 

“For example, if your business is hiring for people within walking distance, think about whether or not those people might need access to public transportation, or if they are able to walk or bike to work. Then, as an employer, create policies that can help support that,” she says, adding that another example would be business trying to make a real effort to foster a workplace that is friendly for all types of employees, whether that means creating policies that help support working parents or support diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

“Basically, it’s making an effort to meet people where they are in a really human way to ensure they have a great work experience,” says Hillary. “And in turn, you’ll benefit from having a really talented workforce.”

 

Local First is hosting its next Measure What Matters event at The Greenwell in East Hills on June 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The networking mixer will gather community members and decision makers to socialize and discuss ways to use business as a force for good. To learn more about Local First programming and upcoming events, visit Local First's event page or find it here on Facebook.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Local First

 

GRPS Launches Rebuild Sigsbee Park Crowdfunding Campaign

At $8,315, the crowdfunding campaign to “Rebuild Grand Rapids’ Sigsbee Playscape” is about halfway to its June 30 matching fund deadline of $29,500 (the first $10k earned will be matched by an anonymous donor)—which, if met, will earn the project an additional $29,500 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

Also known as Southwest Academic, the building space next to Sigsbee Park used to be part of the Grand Rapids Public School district and is now home to a number of community programs including the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative for preschoolers and the Spectrum Baby Scholars program. The adjacent playground—or Sigsbee Park—is now what’s classified as a “school park,” making it a community park of choice open to the public and members of the surrounding Eastown neighborhood.

“In the heart of every great community is a place where neighbors gather. Sigsbee Park and Playground is that place,” says Grand Rapids Public School Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal. ”We are eager to partner with the community to realize a shared vision of a bright and appealing new playground for the children, students and families of Eastown Neighborhood to play and thrive."

However, with playground equipment well past its peak beginning to fall into disrepair, plans to remove it are slated for this summer, threatening to leave a partially empty lot in its place and prompting organizations including The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation, the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, Carter’s Kids, Lake Michigan Credit Union and Grand Rapids Public Schools to partner with the MEDC to raise funds for its reconstruction.

The refurbished playground will include a new swing set, a play structure with a slide and climbing area, dragonfly and stock cary play pieces, outdoor learning benches, and a new safe, engineered wood fiber surfacing.

“Sigsbee Park and Playground has clearly been loved by Eastown Neighborhood families for many years,” says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, one of the organizations behind the Public Spaces Community Places initiative alongside collaborators at the MEDC and Patronicity.

John Helmholdt is spokesperson for the GRPS, and says though some members of the Eastown community have expressed concern over the lack of communication between organizers of the project and community members, it was all a matter of timing, with funding falling into place and the project taking quick steps forward in order to finish construction before the preschool re-opens to students in the fall.

“We’ve been talking about Sigsbee and other parks for quite some time. We got a call from ELNC in the spring saying their federal licensing came in and some of the equipment is out of compliance and it needs to go, so at the point, it began to expedite things and we said, ‘this is happening sooner rather than later, before the summer,’” says Helmholdt, adding that shortly after, LMCU reached out to the organization offering to donate $65,000.

“It all happened very fast and we weren't sure how much money was available or whether we would be eligible for the state matching dollars until literally a few weeks ago,” he says, adding that GRPS has been in contact with the Eastown Community Association and its parks and greening committee more recently on the project, and so far has received their full support.

Right now, Helmholdt says GRPS is fighting a past record of negligence on the property, making some neighbors worry they may lose their voice in the matter as they felt they have in the past. However, he also says this GRPS—the one who met with the ECA’s greening committee, LMCU, ELNC, and the city’s parks department last night to discuss neighborhood engagement opportunities—is a much different GRPS than the community might be used to.

“GRPS sees Sigsbee as truly an opportunity to right some past wrongs and to re-engage with the neighborhood to redevelop this site as a school yard and neighborhood park,” he says. “We have been 100 percent transparent and forthcoming and will continue to do so. We certainly own and recognize how this property has not received the attention it needs nor have we been the best neighbors in the past. But that was then and this is now.”

To stay tuned about upcoming engagement opportunities for Sigsbee’s rebuilding, visit the Eastown Community Association online or here on Facebook. For more information on the project, or to make a donation before the June 30 deadline, visit the Rebuild Grand Rapids Sigsbee Playscape’s project page on Patronicity.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation

Harmony Brewing plans summer 2017 expansion, addition of delivery service to Eastown location

Scheduled to go before the city planning commission later today, owners of Harmony Brewing in Eastown have announced plans to expand their Lake Dr. location with two major goals in mind: the first, to expand indoor space for more carryout capacity and eventually delivery service, and the second, to expand indoor and outdoor seating.

Co-owners Barry Vandyke and Heather VanDyke Titus say that although they lease the current smaller outdoor patio space from the owner of the adjacent Subway building at 1540 Lake Dr., they’re hoping to close a deal on the entire Subway building by mid-June.

“Right now we want to take half of the Subway building and make it into more seating for Harmony, with the other half planned as expanded carry out,” VanDyke Titus says. “Then we hope to add delivery…and eventually expand the outdoor seating, add more of a beer garden.”

 

Though it’s early enough in the process that owners are still running the numbers for renovation expenses against their budgeting for the expansion project, VanDyke Titus says one scenario has them converting the space between the two buildings into a four-seasons room, with another more conservative plan turning the space into a more simple hallway.

 

She says right now the priority is expanding into a second kitchen space to allow for carry-out and delivery services, hoping to tackle the outdoor seating expansion as a sort of second phase. Either way, once they close the deal on the Subway building, she and her co-owner are excited to bring a little more visibility to Harmony Brewing’s Eastown location --  a move that will put them on the corner of a major Eastown intersection.

 

VanDyke Titus adds that there are no major plans to expand Harmony’s menu because rather than overextend, they’d rather keep “what’s working, working.”

 

“One thing we’re excited about is  it will allow us to keep doing what we know we’re doing well, but just have more room to do it in,” she says.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Harmony Brewing Eastown

 

New Madcap location opens in attached Fulton Heights roastery space

Hosting its grand opening on June 2, Madcap Coffee celebrated the addition of its third Grand Rapids location, located on Fulton St. in the space attached to its existing roaster location.

Trevor Corlett is CEO of Madcap coffee and says part of his company’s goal is to connect people with luxury coffee in a way that’s engaging and more approachable.

“With our third Grand Rapids location we hope to provide the community with a fresh coffee experience by building off of our original location and maintaining our core values of quality coffee, service, and creative thinking,” he says.

Located in Fulton Heights, the newest Madcap location is housed in a former auto garage that was originally built in the 1930s, lending a unique character to the modern Madcap aesthetic. Corlett says the design team also drew on the craft beer industry in creating the indoor seating space for the new Madcap, which features lots of bar seating for quick drink and snack ordering.

“The new café will function as an extension of our first café in that we continue to stand by our high level of quality and exceptional service that Madcap has become known for,” says Madcap Co-Founder and Director of Coffee, Ryan Knapp.

With on-the-go options for hot coffee, sparkling cascara, nitro-cold coffee, and made-to-order waffles and spreads, the new location will also feature Madcap’s seasonal signature drink menu. For more information, visit Madcap online or find them here on Facebook.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Madcap Coffee Co.


Historic home of Stone House Recording restored with recent renovations and interior upgrades

On the heels of a new partnership that brought together the company’s founder Peter Fox and new co-owner Josh Kaufman earlier this year, Stone House Recording recently wrapped up renovations on the interior of its West Side studio space. They then partnered with local record label dizzybird studios for an afterparty with live music and cocktails by Grey Skies Distillery.  

Located at 731 Front Ave. NW, Stone House Records is housed in the historic Eliphalet H. Turner House, which was originally built in 1846 and still considered to be the oldest building in Grand Rapids still resting on its original foundation.

While the exterior facade of the old building has more or less stood the test of time and survived decades' worth of past tenants and changing tastes, Kaufman says it took a bit of work to catch the interior space up to speed. 

“The stone is beautiful on the outside but on the inside it was covered by plaster and a bunch of drywall, so we took off the drywall and plaster and refinished the stones, cleaning and re-grouting them,” says Kaufman, who joined Stone House Recording founder Peter Fox as new partner and co-owner about a year ago. “So the main project was to expose the original stone, which dates back to the 1800s.”

Because of the building's proximity to a nearby highway, Kaufman added, they also placed extra inset panes of glass over the windows to create better soundproofing without losing access to much-needed natural light. 

“We just decided the control room space just needed to have more comfortable vibes, so we added new flooring, ripped up all of the old carpet, and just made it more comfortable for bands to come in and make music,” Kaufman says. 

For about six years, Stone House Recording was operated as a solo-mission by its original founder Peter Fox, who was the sole engineer and producer until Kaufman signed on as his new partner last year. Specializing in music production and engineering, Stone House additionally offers services in audio for film, TV, and radio as well as voice-over recording. 

“When Peter started the business, he was already kind of a staple of the music scene in Grand Rapids and had done tons of regional and local bands and he had his base gear, so when we partnered up we decided we wanted to try and expand our tool pallet,” says Kaufman, listing new equalizers, compressors, monitors, and microphones alongside the larger purchases, including a 1970s era tech console from Denver and a 1925 Baldwin grand piano among the half dozen of other new instruments and tools made available to visiting artists. 

“They’re tools for the artists who come in to town to feel like they can let go of their inhibitions and go wild when they come into the space,” Kaufman says.

With sights set on continued growth for Stone House Recording, Kaufman says he and Fox would eventually like to expand into multiple studio spaces. With this in mind, the two are right now exploring the possibility of converting the second floor of their building into a few recording booths with a smaller local control room.

And though Kauffman and Fox say they will continue to keep the focus of their studio on recording albums for musicians and bands, they are also looking for creative ways to broaden their reach into new industry areas, hoping to introduce new services like audiobook recordings and some business-to-business options to help bring on more commercial clients. Most recently, they even established an internship program with Hope College. 

“We’re trying to expand our vision from the studio and this year, after the big renovation, is going to be all about that kind of growth,” Kaufman says.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Anthony Narkus 

Apothecary Off Main leaves the downtown MoDiv for a suite in The Morton this June

Currently located at 40 Monroe Center in the downtown Grand Rapids retail incubator MoDiv, boutique general store Apothecary Off Main announced plans this week to relocate to a larger suite in 76 Monroe Center's The Morton,, with its reopening slated for early next month. 

From hand soaps and bath and body items to gourmet kitchen supplies, aromatherapy and candles, and specialized products for men, Apothecary Off Main features a variety of “general store” items handcrafted by new and growing vendors and other local artisans. 

“It has been amazing to be able to be a part of MoDiv, and we could not be more delighted to grow into a new, larger space in the heart of downtown,” says Jill Devan, Apothecary Off Main’s store director. "As our city has grown, we have been able to welcome so many people to our shop. As our client base has increased, we began looking at a larger space that will allow us to continue to grow the number of products we offer.”

While retail incubators like MoDiv offer flexible retail spaces that help new startups and entrepreneurs eliminate some of the risk associated with building a new business or growing a brand, the eventual migration to a more customized, independent space is exactly the point, says Mike Mraz, managing partner of Real Estate at Rockford Construction, which runs MoDiv. 

“Apothecary Off Main joins a growing list of businesses who start in a small suite, and grow into their own retail storefronts,” Mraz says. “MoDiv offers a unique opportunity to lease a space in a great location for as short as one year, providing flexibility and low startup costs to new businesses.”

With its very first location originating in Vista, Cali., Apothecary Off Main’s relocation to The Morton represents both the growth of its own business operations and the larger growth of retail in general throughout downtown Grand Rapids, something Devan and her team credit largely to the culture of the local community. 

“People living in and visiting downtown seek out shopping,” she says. “Offering unique products in a location that is easy to visit is key, and we enjoyed being in a shared space as we established the store.”

And although The Morton might not offer quite as close of quarters as its former shared space at MoDiv, it affords Apothecary Off Main a larger place to grow without sacrificing the sense of community it has come to value.  

“We are looking forward to not only being in a bigger space, but also being in the same building as more than 100 downtown residents,” Devan says.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Rockford Construction Co. 
1704 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts