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CityHub Cyclery opens downtown Muskegon cycling hub for casual riders, women riders, families

A new women-owned cycle shop in downtown Muskegon hopes to offer women cyclists, casual riders, and family groups an easier path to becoming involved in the sport.

CityHub Cyclery, 585 W. Clay Ave., opens March 6 with a varied offering of bikes and gear -- and with an emphasis on casual riding and the types of bikes and apparel appealing to women. The shop also carries racing and road bikes and gear.

But the goal of shop owners Jennifer Wever and Julia Miller is to create an atmosphere where women cyclists of all ages feel comfortable coming to buy a bike, to talk about getting involved in cycling, or to have their bikes repaired.

Both Wever and Miller are avid cyclists -- Wever as a leisure cyclist, and Miller as a competitive racer who has also worked in several local bike shops, including Velo City Cycles and Ada Bike Shop. Miller is a certified bike mechanic through United Bicycle Institute's Professional Bike Repair and Shop Management, and will be working as a bike mechanic alongside Bill Dellinger.

"I've always had an interest in biking and wanting to work in a shop," Miller says. "I worked at Velo City Cycles, Breakaway Bicycles, and Ada Bike Shop, and most of them are about the men (customers). I wanted something more family-friendly, more commuter style, and a more laid back environment."

This summer, the store will offer bike rentals. The Pere Marquette Beach is about 15 minutes away by bike, following the bike path along Muskegon Lake.

Miller and Wever bought the circa 1891 building, which had been vacant for about six years, and preserved the tin ceiling and the original hardwood floors. A second-story living space will be renovated at a later date.

Store hours: Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat. 10 to 5; Sundays during the summer only, hours TBD.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of CityHub Cyclery

Gazelle Sports to open branded Lole women's athletic wear store in East Grand Rapids

A new Lolë brand store offering women's athletic wear will open soon in East Grand Rapids thanks to local athletic store Gazelle Sports. The shop is only the second Lolë shop in the United States for the Montreal, Canada-based brand.

The store is under construction in the former Smooch Beauty Boutique space at 2213 Wealthy St. SE. Lolë, which stands for Live Out Loud Everyday, approached Gazelle Sports to open and operate the store.

"Lolë is one of the brands Gazelle Sports became familiar with five or six years ago, and it aligned very, very nicely with our female clients," says Gazelle's Director of Retail Stores Nancy Greer. "We have continued to grow and develop that line, and when the opportunity came, they approached us to talk about opening the store."

Lolë's only other U.S. location is in Salt Lake City, UT.    
 
Beyond offering women's athletic apparel and shoes, the shop aims to partner with local fitness studios, yoga studios, personal athletic trainers, and nutritionists to offer weekly athletic clinics and classes geared to improving women's health.

Greer says Gazelle is not ready to announce who those community "ambassadors" are, and is still working to seal the deal on the final relationships. She did say that Gazelle seeks 12 ambassadors throughout Greater Grand Rapids to hold the events at the Lolë store, events at their own studios, and larger community-wide events at offsite locations.

The store will open at the end of March or first part of April. Gazelle seeks 12 part-time retail associates to operate the store. For more information, contact Gazelle Sports.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

$4M investment in historic Muskegon buildings brings brewery, coffee shop, retail to downtown

Gary Post looks back on his 2006 decision to buy and renovate a block of three dilapidated buildings that stood sentry amidst the desolation of a demolished former downtown mall and says, "What was I thinking?"

Today, the former builder has completed renovations of the elegant Century Club and the more stolid brick Russell Block Building next door. Renovation of the third building, the Savings Bank, begins this spring. The buildings span from 350 to 360 W. Western Avenue.

The Century Club building now houses seven retail stores in the Century Club Retail Center -- McDonald's Candies, Lefleur Shoppe, Stormy Kromer, Collage Books, Collage Furnishings, BananaDog teas and chocolates, and Emmaj's Ladybug Shop -- and a restored 1890s ballroom that already has 50 events booked for 2014.  

The Russell Block building features a new craft brewery, Unruly Brewing, Drip Drop Drink, and the West Michigan Symphony ticket office on the main level, with symphony offices and an intimate gymnasium-turned-concert-space on the second level. The third floor still has space for lease.

"When completed the three buildings will represent an investment in downtown Muskegon of over $4.0 million. Small potatoes compared to most developments, I suspect," Post says. "But, I think we’ve been able to leverage the funds raised here to make an impact on our downtown far in excess of the costs it represents."

Post says Unruly Brewing recently optioned the remaining open square footage on the Russell Block's main level to expand its pub. Construction of a 3,000-square-foot outdoor seating area, called The Foundry Garden, will wrap up this spring.

As for the Savings Bank renovation, Post says, "We're working to break ground on that soon for additional retail. There will be five additional retail shops of about 500 square feet each on the main level. The mezzanine will be office and training space. I haven't signed them up yet, but I have four people right now who have expressed strong interest (in being tenants)."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Gary Post, Keith Sipe, and Ying Zhang-Woellhaf

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Five months in, going strong, Baby Mine celebrates with grand opening

Five months after the first customer walked in its doors, East Grand Rapids' Baby Mine has weathered its first fashion season and will celebrate with a grand opening event.

The baby and children's boutique at 2237 Wealthy St. SE in Gaslight Village offers boys' and girls' clothes sizes newborn to 5T, unusual gifts for new moms, soft toys for toddlers, and more. Many items are unique to the store and not found in other stores in the area, says co-owner Kimberly Gill, who opened the store in October 2013 with her daughter Bethany Smith.

Gill spoke to Rapid Growth between appointments at an East Michigan buyer's show this week, where she and Smith were busy selecting fall 2014 fashions and toys for the store. The spring selections will start filling the racks next month.

"When we started Baby Mine, we didn't know how much inventory to buy," Gill says. "We started a little late for winter inventory, so we had a bit more than if we'd opened in August, but we had to fill the store. We're getting a lot of people buying baby gifts.

"The toys have been selling great, the Constructive Eating has been selling really well; Rubbabu soft cars and trucks have been selling really well, and the Valco Doll Prams have been selling really well," she adds. "We cater to the kids (while Mom shops), have snacks for them, cars and strollers they can play with, and they fill up the doll pram with things like a shopping cart and they love it."

And Gill says they've had many requests for kids' shoes, so summer shoes will be part of the shop's spring and summer offerings, along with clothing, bathing suits, hats, and Babiators, a line of sunglasses for infants and children.

"We are not outrageously priced," Gill says. "We try to find clothing that appeals to everybody's taste and wallet, and try to have price ranges so that anybody that comes in can find a gift."

The grand opening event is Thurs., Feb. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Baby Mine.

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Metro Health heart and vascular services aim to fill healthcare need in Holland

After Metro Health moved its operations to its bustling new location just off M-6 in Wyoming, caregivers there noticed an increase in the number of patients coming from Holland and the lakeshore. In response to the increased need for healthcare where the patients live, the hospital has opened a new heart and vascular care center at 904 S. Washington St., Holland, and will see patients there two days a month.

The center shares space with Holland Foot & Ankle to keep costs down, and is Metro Health's sixth neighborhood cardiovascular center.

The office treats people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking-related health issues.

"We assess the patient from A to Z, looking at key indicators, diving into symptoms the patient may have, and then recommending life-changing modifications like diet, exercise, smoking cessation, or management of diabetes," says Director Dan Witt. "We see a large number of patients annually that are threatened with amputation, and our doctor Larry Diaz can perform interventions in narrowed arteries to help save patients from amputation. (In the cases of) narrowing of carotid arteries in the neck that feed blood to the brain, we can do carotid stenting to open up the arteries."

The office also partners with patients' primary care physicians, and works with patients to connect them with classes on diabetes, healthy cooking, and smoking cessation.   

"Heart disease, and its associated diseases, is the number one killer of adult men and women in the U.S.," says Ellen Bristol, Metro Health spokesperson. "While we all get really scared about cancer, and we should be concerned, anyone with a heart is at risk of having heart disease. Our offices ring the Greater Grand Rapids area and take healthcare to where our patients live."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

ELK Brewing nears completion, beer brewing to begin at Grand Rapids' newest brew pub

The road to pulling back the first tap of microbrew has been a lot longer than Eric Karns ever expected since he and his wife Lisa received Grand Rapids Planning Commission approval in Sept. 2011 to build ELK Brewing. But now the equipment is in place, and Eric plans to get the first batch of porter started this weekend.

The brewery, named for Eric and Lisa's initials, is nearly complete inside. Eric Karns, his business partner Taylor Carroll, and Eric's dad Larry Karns, a building contractor, have put in most of the muscle to convert the 5,300-square-foot former Southern Fish Fry at 700 Wealthy St. SE.

The brewpub sits on the corner of Wealthy St. SE and Henry St. SE, a formerly downtrodden area enjoying a resurgence of economic vitality with the repurposing of a gas station into Donkey Taqueria, and the rehabilitation of a second corner gas station into what might be a new home for Jonny B'z Dogs and More.

The 100-gallon, three-barrel brewing system was new to Karns, an avid home brewer. But he says his first test batch of porter turned out perfectly, and he's ready to get the brewing underway this weekend.

"Our plan is to have a porter, a black IPA, an IPA, a Scotch ale, a brown ale, and an Extra Special Bitter," Karns says. "We will have all of these as our mainstays, and will brew seasonally and add to our mainstays with the possibility of going up to 12 taps. But we'll start with six, so I can stockpile the beer we have so we don't run out."

The pub won't serve food, but patrons can bring their own eats from surrounding restaurants, or can order food delivery from Jonny B'z. The brewery will seat 80 people, and will eventually brew with the goal of distribution. But for now, Karns says it will be enough to get the brews in patrons' glasses and get them coming back for more.

"Having all the development here turns this corner into a destination spot," Karns says. "Other than just coming here and having a beer and leaving, you can park here and spend a whole evening here."

Karns hopes to have the pub open by the beginning of April.

Design: Lott3Metz Architecture

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of ELK Brewing

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German-made anaerobic digester to debut in Lowell; manure, food waste to become renewable energy

It's been in the dream phase for years, and today a group of forward-thinking civic leaders break ground to be the first to bring an innovative German-made anaerobic digester to the United States.

Sustainable Partners, LLC (SPART) owners Greg Northrup and Pam Landes landed private funding for the construction of the $6 million energy production plant and, with the unnamed investor, formed Lowell Energy AD, LLC.

The digester uses Upflow/Downflow/Reflow technology created by German engineering firm enCO2, LLC, and will convert 4,000 to 8,000 tons of manure per year from SwissLane Dairy Farms, and about 1.5 million gallons of wastewater, and waste fats, oils and greases from Litehouse Foods and area restaurants into methane that powers an 800 kW electric power generator.

Lowell Light & Power will purchase the electricity to help it meet its Michigan Renewable Portfolio Standard of 10 percent renewable energy sources as the city of Lowell grows.

The 25,000-square-foot digester will occupy the former Newell Manufacturing plant, long vacant, at 625 Chatham Street. Northrup says the facility will be entirely contained and will generate no odors from the waste products, only energy.

"We're taking material that used to go to landfills and we're using it to generate electricity," Northrup says. "We are also doing wastewater treatment for Litehouse. We'll take the wastewater and remove the solids, improve it, and put it back into wastewater system cleaner. We'll build a pipeline one-third of a mile long from Litehouse to the facility. They've been hauling the wastewater away by truck and dumping it, and those trucks will be gone."

Northrup says it's taken years to get the biodigester model developed, but once this first one is done, SPART expects to reproduce the results across the state and is looking at "five or six" other locations.

Northrup says the biodigester will be operational in late 2014 or early 2015.

Construction manager: Rockford Construction
Engineering: enCO2
Civil engineers: Williams & Works

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Lowell Energy AD, LLC

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Quirky gift and home décor shop, Rebel Reclaimed, finds new home in Eastown

Rebel Reclaimed, a specialty gift and home décor shop that utilizes redesigned and recycled goods, recently made a move from their previous space on East Fulton to their new home in the Eastown neighborhood. Their new building expands their storefront from 180 to 800 square feet and sits at 1409 Robinson Road, nestled between Argos Book Shop and Foot Outfitters.

The move comes as the product of a two-year search for Dann Boyles and Chip Minor, co-owners of Rebel Reclaimed. They originally started their search in the East Hills Neighborhood, but stumbled upon the Robinson Road location by chance.

"I happened to be driving through the area and was stopped at the intersection at Lake and Robinson Road and looked over and there was a "For Rent" sign in this window," says Boyles. "I couldn't believe how much exposure this intersection gets for the businesses that are here."

As Eastown continues to expand and become a more inclusive neighborhood, more and more small businesses are looking to call the neighborhood home.  

"I'm coming to find out that if you live in Eastown you want to stay in Eastown; you want to eat there, you want to work there, you want to ride your bike to wherever you want to go," says Boyles. "That has been really phenomenal."

Rebel Reclaimed's move to the new location has been well received by both customers and fellow business owners. It also comes in time for the shop's four-year anniversary in May.

"There has been an outpouring of local business people that have come and said, 'Thank you for coming to the neighborhood, this is exactly what we need,'" says Boyles. "We have met so many people that didn't know about us on East Fulton."

Rebel Reclaimed is open Tuesday thru Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

John Wiegand is an intern at Rapid Growth Media
Photography by John Wiegand

Grand Haven sweets boutique offers scrumptious handmade chocolates with a healthier twist

Like many things that are decadent and alluring, the debate rages on about the health benefits, or lack thereof, of chocolate. But Grand Haven chocolatier Chocolates by Grimaldi has tipped the scales in favor of downhome goodness by making its handmade sweets preservative-free, with no artificial ingredients and just enough wax to make the chocolate behave.

The 2,500-square-foot shop in a former roller rink at 219 7th St. was pretty sparsely filled when the chocolate production began in 2012, says owner Molli Laham. Now the display floor has chocolates galore and a bar for enjoying the luscious house-made drinking chocolate and homemade marshmallows.

And while the hand-mixed, hand-rolled, hand-dipped customer favorites are the gourmet truffles and caramels, the shop's chocolate-covered potato chips are also in demand.

"We make our Chips 'N Chocolate using Better Made chips made in the Detroit area," Laham says, adding that she uses as many Michigan products as she can. "We tried several different chips, but they had too much grease. Better Made had the least amount of grease and the right amount of salt. The chips go through the enrober (to coat them equally on all sides), then 20 feet of cooling tunnels, so the chocolate and the chips stay crispy."

Valentine's Day specialties abound! The orange-cranberry truffle infuses the flavors of orange zest and fresh cranberries into the truffle cream. The Bailey's truffles and the Amaretto truffles feature the popular liqueur flavors without the alcohol. And for lovers of dark chocolate, there's Grimaldi's Dark Dark Chocolate.

Chocolate "lips" lollipops, chocolate-dipped strawberries, seafoam, and chocolate-covered cookies are just a few of the other offerings.

Laham has her eye set on opening a shop in Grand Rapids, perhaps one in Traverse City, and offering chocolate making classes, but doesn't have any timelines set for those expansions.

In the meantime, she's grown her product line with a new focus on online sales, and says that side of the business is growing steadily.

Regular hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon. - Fri., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat.
Valentine's hours: Feb. 13 and 14, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Chocolates by Grimaldi

Grand Rapids kids have transportation to Boys & Girls Clubs' after-school thanks to new partnership

A new partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth (BGC-GR), Grand Rapids Public Schools, and Dean Transportation makes it possible for more Grand Rapids kids to participate in the BGC-GR's after-school activities.

Kids from three GRPS elementary schools -- Stocking Elementary, Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Academy, and Dickinson Academy-- are now able to board a bus at school to go to a BGC-GR location within one mile of the school, participate in activities, and then take a bus to within two blocks of their homes.

The BGC-GR provides school-aged children after-school homework help, art and music programs, physical activities, and connects them with mentors in the community to provide them opportunities for success. Children ages 12 and under attend from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; older kids can stay at the centers until 9 p.m. Buses delivering them home follow established GRPS routes to drop-off locations near their homes.

"The problem is that kids can't get to our programming and GRPS is only able to fulfill 20 percent of its need for after-school programming," says BGC-GR Executive Director Rick Huisman. "If kids have to walk to us, there are streets that kids don't want to walk down for many different reasons. So we said, let's find a solution and get the kids to us."

The three BGC-GR locations are located on the southeast and west sides of Grand Rapids.

The cost of both the after-school program and the summer program (from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays during summer months) is just $5 per year, per child.

In 2013, GBC-GR served 2,675 children. Huisman hopes the new transportation options will bring another 30 to 50 children into the program.

"I think that we are all in this together," Huisman says. "I think that this can help Grand Rapids by providing multiple opportunities for success for our kids, and who doesn't want to do everything they can to make that work?"

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand opening set for Wealthy Street Bakery's $1.8M sister, Hall Street Bakery

To say that the people behind the successful Wealthy Street Bakery have made a significant investment in the corner of Hall St. SE and Fuller Avenue SE is an understatement. David and Melissa LaGrand and Jim and Barb McClurg have invested a whopping $1.5 to $1.8 million in what was a dying business district with a defunct building that was "raining inside when we got it," says David LaGrand.

But this Saturday, Feb. 8, at 6 a.m. the doors will swing wide to invite the public to the new Hall Street Bakery grand opening at 1200 Hall St. SE, just a few blocks from where David LaGrand grew up and where his brother still lives in the family home.

The former Veltman's Market was a busy neighborhood haunt when LaGrand was growing up, but in the past decade or so, the neighborhood has experienced significant disinvestment and the loss of several businesses.

The new bakery will feature everything customers have come to crave from Wealthy Street Bakery -- luscious croissants, cookies, and cupcakes, fresh artisan breads, and specialty salads, soups, pizzas, and entrees -- plus Hall Street Bakery will have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen that will produce goods that will be sold at both locations.

"We'll have a sort of hermetically sealed off facility in the downstairs; you can't go downstairs if you have flour on you," LaGrand says.

The bakery will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a setting reminiscent of a European café, complete with outdoor seating and local wines and beers by the glass.

"Wealthy Street has won best bakery in Grand Rapids every year since we've opened (2002), and now it's exciting to have brewers in town who are focused on excellence. All of a sudden we have world-class beers in the city," LaGrand says. "The new location will be able to be more of a neighborhood after-work spot and we really expect to get a good dinner trade."

"We bought the building because we're urbanists and we like to be able to invest in revitalizing community spots," LaGrand adds. "Our passion is being rooted in neighborhoods. If you look with negative eyes, you can see that neighborhood has a long period of disinvestment. Things leave, but things don't really come back, and we're the first real solid reinvestment in the neighborhood in a long time."

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Hall Street Bakery

New consignment shop on Grand Rapids' West Side brings conscious consumerism to the fore with style

When it comes to making conscious buying choices that are earth- and community-friendly, sisters Erin Gant and Katrin Ophoff are ready to make a career out of it. Based on a firm belief that it's critical for all of us to be conscious of how our choices impact the planet, our community, society, and culture, the two have opened The Conscious Collective Consignment shop at 445 Bridge St. NW.

With 1,700 square feet and some large storefront display windows, the shop is bright and inviting, welcoming customers to browse the aisles of gently used men's and women's fashions, plus-sized and maternity clothing, and home décor items.

The store also features new products handmade by local artisans, such as Kathleen "K.C." Andrews' Gatsby skirts made from men's dress shirts, Kristen Lundy's tree of life necklaces made of metals and chipped stones, and Joy Pryor's outdoor candleholders from repurposed glassware.

Consigners and artists will be able to track the sales of the items they drop off at the store through an online system, says Ophoff.

"They get an email invitation and a consigner number ID and can see how we've priced the item and how much it sold for," she adds, noting that consigners get 40 percent of the selling price, while artists get a bit more. "They can then request a check for the item, or if they want to use the sale as in-store credit, they get an extra five percent of what each item sold for."

The sisters did most of the store renovations themselves, recycling wood salvaged from walls inside the building and using repurposed apple crates for shelving -- all of which complements the timeless atmosphere created by the original wood floors and high tin ceilings.

Feb. 8 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Feb. 9 (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) are the grand opening dates with fun activities planned for both days.

Store hours, beginning Feb. 10: Mon. - Sat. 10 - 7; Sun.11 - 4.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Erin Gant and The Conscious Collective Consignment

Planned renovation of 820 Monroe NW into apartments, retail could generate $1.7M annual spending

The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate request (OPRE) regarding the proposed renovation of the former Sackner Products Plant into a residential and retail venue predicts the project could generate some $1.7 million in annual spending once it's completed and fully leased.

The proposed renovation by 616 Development includes converting the four-story circa 1924 building into 89 market rate apartments, plus ground floor retail and hospitality spaces.

The Monroe North Tax Increment Financing Authority approved the OPRE, freezing the tax value of the existing building plus any new tax increment revenues for 10 years, an estimated amount of $27,700 per year. After 10 years, the property could generate $115,000 per year in new tax revenues.

The project could run some $21.8 million and, says Chris Knape of SeyferthPR, spokesperson for 616 Development, "other incentives will be required that are pending. Start/completion dates will depend on timing of approval of the incentives and finalizing construction financing." Knape did not elaborate on what the other incentives are.

"There is an incredible amount of energy in the Monroe North neighborhood thanks to projects like the restoration of the Grand River and Michigan State University’s purchase of the former Grand Rapids Press properties," says Derek Coppess, owner of 616 Development, in a recent email. "We believe bringing a mixed-use 616 Lofts community to 820 Monroe will add to the vitality of the neighborhood while helping to meet strong demand for market-rate apartments downtown."

820 Monroe has been used as commercial space for a number of businesses, but as of the December OPRE request, the 156,000-square-foot building was only 50 percent occupied and had been certified by the city assessor as an obsolete facility.

Other projects by 616 Development revolve around apartment communities called 616 Lofts that are in historic buildings scattered throughout downtown Grand Rapids, including loft spaces above Flanagan's (Pearl St.), apartments above the Grand Rapids Brewing Co. (Ionia and Fulton), and apartments in the historic Kendall Building (Monroe Center NE).

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Renderings courtesy of 616 Development and Integrated Architecture

Cherry Park welcomes new public ice skating rink

Amid continued frigid temperatures and abundant snow, some Grand Rapids residents are finding the silver lining in the polar vortex with Cherry Park's newly completed ice skating rink. The East Hills Council of Neighbors hosted a Winter Party on January 25 at Cherry Park, located at 725 Cherry St. SE, to celebrate their recently completed rink. They hope the rink will give community members who brave the cold the opportunity to enjoy an urban neighborhood park during the winter months.

"In the winter time you see a lot of your parks full of snow and not being utilized," says Matt Stephens, an East Hills community member who was enjoying the ice rink with his family. "It's a great space to utilize a little better with an ice skating rink or snowman competitions or whatever. It’s a great opportunity all the way around for kids to get out and play a little bit and have some fun."
 
Public skating rinks, which were once popular in Grand Rapids' communities throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s, fizzled out of popularity in the past few decades. The East Hills Council of Neighbors hopes to return to a time when both ice skating rinks and urban parks were an incredible community resource.
 
"[The park] is an active option for people to participate in a four season neighborhood. Cherry Park is open year round and the ice rink really helps to promote that," says Rachel Lee, an East Hills Council of Neighbors representative.
 
The opportunity to establish the Cherry Park Ice Rink was provided by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. The rink was built with the sponsorship of neighborhood businesses like Brewery Vivant and Urban Pharm. Individual donors were also encouraged to sponsor the effort and dozens of skates were donated for rental in support of community skating.
 
"It's just another amazing collaboration of how business and neighborhood come together to make something happen for the community," says Lee.
 
John Wiegand is an intern at Rapid Growth Media.
Photos by John Wiegand.

Holland BPW unveils new clean energy electric generating "park" with greenway trails, education

The Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) has unveiled its architectural design for its proposed natural gas-fired electric generating facility for the city of Holland, a 26-acre site at 5th St. and Fairbanks Avenue. The new plant will replace the outdated coal-burning waterfront James DeYoung plant.

Highlights of the design include:
•    a 50-ft.-high glass wall on the south side that enables visitors to watch the equipment and processes at work
•    a red ceramic fiberboard "spine" that creates an observation gallery
•    walkways, roads, and parking areas heated by a snowmelt system powered by the plant
•    walking paths that could eventually connect to the nearby Macatawa Greenway
•    a green roof, permeable pavement, bio-swales and rain gardens to capture stormwater runoff
•    fencing, gates, and picnic tables made from the 20,000 cubic feet of concrete recycled from the demolition of existing structures on the site

"We want this to be an educational resource," says Dave Koster, HBPW general manager. "We will have lots of tours, and we'll have about 26 acres for buffer space around the facility, close to greenway systems and destination points. The public can use it and be on the grounds to enjoy the natural trails around the property."

Koster says planning began about 10 years back when ideas were put forth to increase capacity of the DeYoung plant by adding another coal-fired facility. After several studies, a steering committee of 20 local stakeholders gathered public input and decided to build the 114 megawatt gas-fired energy park and to establish it in a location away from the Lake Macatawa shoreline as an eastern gateway to the city.

The HBPW has purchased some 50 of the 60 properties needed, offering fair market value plus extra percentages to homeowners on those parcels, and has purchased commercial parcels and helped relocate those businesses. Demolition of existing buildings begins after the Tulip Time Festival, and after local nonprofits Homecor and Jubilee Ministries have opportunities to harvest usable furnaces, water heaters, and other equipment from the structures.

Koster expects the plant will be fully operational in 2016.

To learn more, visit p21decision.com.

Architectual design: HDR, Inc.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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