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Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge to brew up more than just coffee in growing Commerce Ave. district

The owners of the former Ada Coffee Bar hope to bring more than just good, hot brews to the growing business district on southwest Commerce Avenue. Kevin Wallace and Steve Wiltjer plan to open Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge on April 26 as a warm and welcoming gathering spot for friends, business meetings, and the lone student pursuing studies.

Wiltjer, 29, says the duo came up with the "lantern" name as "something that would communicate the kind of space and ambience we want to create…the old street lantern represents warmth and safety and welcoming that people gather around."

To that end, Wiltjer and Wallace are busy transforming the 1,450-square-foot space in the Grand Central Lofts building (100 Commerce Ave. SW) into a multi-level coffee house with specialty drinks, casual seating areas for larger and smaller groups, and a small stage for music or the spoken word. The entry level on the corner of Commerce SW and Oakes St. SW opens to a walkout level a few steps below. Above the shop are 31 new market-rate apartments.

"We've been looking for something downtown for a quite a while," Wiltjer says. "I saw an article on this building in Rapid Growth. I met with the landlord, fell in love with the building, and we moved forward."

The décor, designed by Wiltjer's wife, Rachel Bush, will have an "old library feel with darker colors, comfortable and cozy, but still clean and fresh," he says.

The shop will serve coffee from Populace Coffee, a specialty roaster in Bay City, Mich., as well as a variety of teas, chai, and other non-coffee drinks. And while Wiltjer guarantees the drinks to be great, the focus is on an atmosphere where people will want to spend time. The shop will offer a table reservation service for casual gatherings and business meetings.

The April 26 grand opening (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) will double as a fundraiser for the YWCA.

Source: Steve Wiltjer, Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' Herkimer Hotel renovation, new Commerce Ave. buildings bring $29M affordable housing

Renovation of Grand Rapids' historic Herkimer Hotel building on S. Division Avenue and construction of two adjacent buildings on Commerce Avenue SW will bring 122 new affordable apartments, retail live/work residences, and office space to the city's south side.

The $29 million project is the last piece in revitalizing an entire city block owned by Dwelling Place, Inc. Construction has begun to convert the Herkimer Apartments (323 S. Division Ave.) from 122 mostly studio units to 55 larger one-bedroom apartments.

Construction of two new four-story buildings directly west on Commerce Ave. SW, between Goodrich and Bartlett streets, adds another 67 one-bedroom apartments to the mix. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services will occupy 14,000 square feet on the first level to provide support services to the apartment residents and others in the area.

An elevated, enclosed walkway connects the Herkimer and Commerce Avenue buildings.

A new 13,550-square-foot infill addition to the north of the Herkimer building will replace a small surface parking lot and connect the Herkimer building to the existing Calumet Flats, also owned by Dwelling Place. The renovation includes construction of seven live/work apartments along S. Division Avenue.

"We are part of Housing First through the continuum of care, trying to find a way to not put people in shelters, but in apartments, and wrap the services they need around them so they can remain housed," says Director of Housing Development, Sr. Jarrett DeWyse, O.P.  "All 122 units are supportive housing, which means we give residents as much independence as they need and as much support as they need in order to remain housed. Forty-two of the units will be part of the Housing First program."

The new Herkimer Apartments will be completed by August 2013. The rest of the project will be complete by late fall.

Architectural design: Brian Winkelmann of DTS Winkelmann
Construction manager: Rockford Construction

Source: Jarrett DeWyse, Dwelling Place, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Three more historic buildings in Grand Rapids' downtown targeted for renovations, upgrades

Remodels of three historic structures in downtown Grand Rapids will begin this spring, bringing the buildings up to modern office standards in the hope of making them attractive to potential tenants.

The Ledyard Building (125 Ottawa NW), the Trade Center Building (50 Louis St. NW), and The Michigan Trust Building (40 Pearl NW), are owned by CWD Real Estate Investment and will undergo significant upgrades this spring and summer, says CWD Managing Partner Scott Wierda.

The buildings, built between 1874 and 1896, have had few upgrades in the past 20 or so years and are overdue, Wierda says.

"We believe in the longterm future of downtown Grand Rapids and that it's very, very important to have the urban core stable," Wierda says. "For a long time, the downtown development has been based on philanthropy, and while those have been great gifts to all of us, we feel that the future needs to be based on development, not dependent on philanthropy. It's up to us to continue what's already been started. We've seen that with a lot of these buildings, there wasn't significant reinvestment in the building."

The Ledyard Building, which was the first location of the Grand Rapids Public Library, will get an atrium and upgrades to the unleased office and retail spaces.

The six-story Trade Center was constructed as the Masonic Temple and is the current home of Start Garden. A major portion of the remodel will include a new lobby, elevators, and restrooms, plus upgrades to the 60 percent of the building's office spaces not currently occupied. CWD plans to move its own headquarters there after the renovation.

The Michigan Trust Building is the site of former President Gerald R. Ford's first law office from 1941-1943. The second floor was vacated recently and features high ceilings, ornamental details, and arched windows, all of which will be preserved. Renovations include better lighting, upgrades to common areas and the main lobby, and repairs to windows and the sandstone façade.

Source: Scott Wierda, CWD Real Estate Investment
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Noted Muskegon architectural firm Hooker DeJong branches out to Grand Rapids

Longtime Muskegon architectural and engineering firm Hooker DeJong has branched out from its home base to the Grand Rapids market with the opening of its first satellite office. The company has a 75-year history in Muskegon, but in recent years has employed several people from the Grand Rapids area, making a local office hub a practicality.

While the new office at 212 Grandville Ave. SW became reality several months ago as shared space with Fusion Properties, creating a separate space for four employees -- plus a drop-in hub for on-the-road employees -- is now complete.

"We've worked with Fusion Properties in the past, and (this building) works well for us because of the ease of getting on and off US-131 for our travel needs," says Cindy Hindi, client services specialist. "We made acoustical changes for a quieter atmosphere, but left the exposed ductwork and interior brick walls. This has a contemporary, urban feel to it."

Hooker DeJong's project list includes Fusion Properties' Grand Central Lofts in Grand Rapids, Muskegon County Veteran’s Memorial Causeway Park, Holland's Midtown Senior Apartments and Evergreen Commons Day Center, and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians' new Government Center in Manistee.

Hooker DeJong will host Green Drinks Grand Rapids at San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 W. Fulton St.) on March 21 (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.), followed by an informal walk-thru of the new office space.

Source: Cindy Hindi, Hooker DeJong, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

After six-year wait, Embassy Suites moves on plans for new $34M riverfront Grand Rapids hotel

Suburban Inns announced this week it plans to move ahead with construction of a 270-suite Embassy Suites hotel in Grand Rapids' Monroe North business district. The announcement comes six years after the company's purchase of the former Western American Mailers plant at Newberry St. and N. Monroe Avenue.

The housing market crash derailed initial plans for the $34 million project, originally slated for construction in 2009. The hotel will include space for first-floor retail shops and could bring some 300 jobs to the region.

"We really feel that a lot of the medical and educational institutes are in that general area, and it's as close to the hospitals and to DeVos Place as we can get and still purchase land at a rate where we can afford to offer reasonable rates to guests," says Suburban Inns COO Peter R. Beukema. "We hope the hotel will start to really assist the growth in the North Monroe district. Hopefully the hotel will help Grand Rapids be more attractive to a lot of the larger conventions, and that puts more heads in beds and more staff to work."

Preliminary plans include a possible 11-story structure, room layouts that consist of Embassy Suites' three-room suites, indoor parking, and shuttle service to anywhere in Grand Rapids.

Construction begins this summer, with a grand opening planned for fall 2014.

Suburban Inns owns and operates Holiday Inn Express of Grand Rapids Southwest/Grandville, Holiday Inn Express of Holland, Hampton Inn and Sharkee’s Bar and Grill in Holland, Holiday Inn of Midland, and Big E’s Sports Grill.

Source: Peter R. Beukema, Suburban Inns
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Unruly Brewing to open community brewery in downtown Muskegon, aims to make city a beer destination

Unruly Brewing and Pigeon Hill Brewing will soon put Muskegon on the beer destination map when the two craft breweries open in the city's growing downtown district this year.

Pigeon Hill Brewing (500 W. Western Ave.) plans to open later this year in the Noble Building (read story here), while Unruly Brewing will bring a community-brewing aspect to the historic Russell Block Building (360 W. Western Ave.) as early as this spring.

Unruly's owners, Jeff Jacobson, Mark Gongalski, and Eric Hoffman, plan to get the brewery established, then open the brew house to select home brewers who will introduce their own tried-and-tasted recipes to the community on a larger scale.

"We want Unruly Brewing to be a place where local brewers talk about beer, learn about beer, and eventually have an opportunity to make their own beers onsite," Jacobson says. "We're hoping by the end of 2013 to start developing a program for that."

The brewery's 2,500-square-foot taproom will be a room without walls, Jacobson says, and open to the rest of the Russell Block Market where it will share seating and occupancy space with Drip Drop Drink coffee shop and possibly a food vendor.

Downstairs, the brew house occupies another 1,500 square feet. Outside, a patio area on the building's south side will have outdoor seating.

Jacobson says he, Gongalski, and Hoffman are active home brewers. Gongalski and Hoffman founded the Muskegon Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH) and Hoffman will be the pub's brew master.

Unruly Brewing opens late this spring with 10 of its own brews on tap, including an ale, a pre-prohibition crème ale made from authentic pre-prohibition ingredients, a double IPA, a coffee porter, and an IPA.

"I'm hoping this brings people downtown," Jacobson says. "During the summer it's packed with all the festivals, but it could be so much more than just space for that. There's a lot of space that could be filled with retail and restaurants."

Source: Jeff Jacobson, Unruly Brewing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Pigeon Hill Brewing to open in downtown Muskegon, one of city's first two microbreweries on tap

Downtown Muskegon has its first two microbreweries on tap and will soon join the growing movement to make West Michigan a beer destination.

Unruly Brewing plans to open this spring in the Russell Block Building (read story here), followed by Pigeon Hill Brewing in the Noble Building (500 W. Western Ave.).

Pigeon Hill Brewing carries the name of a sand dune that once graced the shoreline in Muskegon and was home to thousands of passenger pigeons. The sand was mined away for industrial purposes and 71 acres is now home to an elite housing development, Harbour Towne.

Pigeon Hill Brewing's owners Joel Kamp, Chad Doane, and Michael Brower, all avid home brewers, hope to resurrect the dune in memory.

"It is our goal to reinvigorate interest in local history, build a deeper sense of pride in the greater Muskegon area, and craft our city into a 'beer destination,'" Brower says. "While Pigeon Hill Brewing will not singlehandedly breathe new life into downtown Muskegon, we believe that our efforts, combined with the efforts of many others downtown, are exactly the catalyst that Muskegon needs to usher in a new, brighter future."

Interior demolition of the west 2,500-square-feet of the Noble Building (along Fifth St.) begins soon, with brewery construction to follow. The 80-seat taproom will share the space with a 3.5-barrel brew house that produces 108 gallons per batch. A separate area will be used for aging special release beers.

"Our beer will be as diverse as our customers," Brower says. "As of right now, our line-up includes Walter Blonde Ale, Shifting Sands IPA, LMFAO (Let Me Fetch An Oatmeal) Stout, Oatmeal Cream Pie, Skeetown Brown, and several other unnamed brews."

Brower says Pigeon Hill is working with the landlord to attract a restaurant to the building's other half.

Although Pigeon Hill hopes to open later this year, no date has been set.

Source: Michael Brower, Pigeon Hill Brewing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Development could bring 70 new homes, $1.5M in spending, to downtown Muskegon's waterfront

Jon Rooks has a vision to bring 70 new homes to downtown Muskegon's waterfront, and both the Muskegon Planning Commission and the Muskegon City Commission have approved the plans.
 
Terrace Point Landing, LLC, of which Rooks is the manager, plans to offer 28 waterfront home sites along Muskegon Lake and 42 home sites with waterfront access, all on the vacant 11-acre parcel adjacent to the Shoreline Inn and Conference Center, Terrace Point Marina, and the Lake House Waterfront Grille.
 
Rooks purchased the 23-acre parcel from the bank in 2009, and says he plans to pass the cost savings along to homebuyers.
 
"We're interested in appealing to a diverse group of buyers and view these as homes that could be purchased as a first or second home of young professionals, families, or empty nesters," Rooks says. "We anticipate lot prices would be $95,000 to $125,000 (for) waterfront and start at about $45,000 for non-waterfront lots. Construction costs would probably be $125,000 to $175,000 per home."
 
The project includes two community pools, one at the marina and one in the housing development, a forest courtyard, a hot tub, a Muskegon Lake beach, and unrestricted access by boat to Lake Michigan. Waterfront buyers would have first right of refusal for a marina slip.
 
Rooks points out that there are still a lot of details to iron out, including finding a reputable homebuilder, building the city roads and sidewalks throughout the development, and getting buyers. A waiting list has been established and reservation agreements are in development.
 
Between Terrace Point Landing and Rooks' development of the 72-condominium High Point Flats just three blocks away, (285 W. Western Ave.) it could bring 142 new residences to downtown Muskegon. Rooks estimates that could bring 300 new residents to the region and $1.5 million in annual spending to the downtown.
 
To inquire about the properties or to get on the waiting list, email Brad Veneklase at Bradley@parklandgr.com.
 
Source: Jon Rooks, Terrace Point Landing, LLC
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' $30M Downtown Market signs first two tenants on its way to summer 2013 opening

The vetting process and the taste testing are complete and the Downtown Market's first two businesses to sign on the dotted line are Simpatico Coffee and Love's Ice Cream.
 
The two companies will fill two of the 24 indoor vendor stalls in the $30 million Downtown Market's (435 Ionia Ave. SW) 138,000 square feet, which will include two restaurants, a microbrewery, artisan foods, locally grown fresh produce, a greenhouse, an incubator kitchen for small cuisine-based businesses, a children's kitchen, and more. Construction on the market continues in anticipation of its opening this spring and summer.
 
Holland-based Simpatico Coffee, owned by Alex Fink, will offer fair-trade and sustainably roasted coffees from small farms in the Oaxaca, Mexico region. Love's Ice Cream is a handcrafted boutique ice cream maker owned by Chris McKellar, founder of Grand Rapids Cooking School, and will pasteurize its locally produced milk and cream onsite.
 
"It's not as simple as 'we want to rent your space' and then we say okay," says Downtown Market President and CEO Mimi Fritz. "We want to be sure we have the right mix for the people of Grand Rapids and for the other vendors. For example, Alex can use Chris's freshly pasteurized milk and cream at the coffee shop, and Chris can use Simpatico's coffee in Love's Ice Cream."
 
The indoor market will open this summer, Fritz says. The goal is to have all 24 vendors in place by the time construction is done. Buildouts of the restaurants and brewery will take longer. The outdoor farmers market area with its 87 stalls opens May 4. The market will be open seven days a week.
 
"The impact of the market hits Grand Rapids many different ways," Fritz says. "It's in a food desert and low-income area, so we'll work with social service agencies in Heartside for partnerships. It's creating jobs and spurring future growth, and the attraction of an entity like this in Grand Rapids is significant -- there aren't other markets like ours; no market has the greenhouse, incubator kitchen, kids' kitchen, and microbrewery all together in one space. It's going to be amazing."
 
Source: Mimi Fritz, Downtown Market
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Vacant Grand Haven strip mall soon to be healthcare haven of services

The North Ottawa Community Health System (NOCHS) is in the process of transforming a former strip shopping mall it owns in Grand Haven into a haven of healthcare services.
 
The mall (Taylor Avenue and Beacon Boulevard/US-31) has some 19,000 square feet of vacant space which will soon be home to four of NOCHS' programs: Home Care Equipment, Home Care Nursing, Community Education, and Hospice Nursing. These programs will move from three different locations across the community in April.
 
Two existing healthcare offices act as bookends to the vacant spaces and will provide opportunities for healthcare partnerships: NOCHS' Urgent Care Center and Four Pointes, formerly the North Ottawa Area Council on Aging.
 
Home Care Equipment will feature a 2,000-square-foot showroom of medical equipment, including wheelchairs, hospital beds, lift chairs, and more.
 
"The showroom will be very hands-on," says Dan Holwerda, COO of Extended Care Services for NOCHS. "If you have a sleep disorder and need to try a CPAP mask, you can. You can also go to a room and lay down on one of our beds to see how the mask works for you."
 
The Community Education space includes a classroom where NOCHS will hold information sessions on healthcare.
 
Relocating Community Education and Home Care Equipment from the NOCHS hospital building will free up space needed for NOCHS to expand its primary care offices.
 
"When we think about healthcare, we think we have to go to a physician's office or to the hospital," Holwerda says. "We're trying to establish in the community's mind that it's easy to get services or to shop for equipment. We want people to feel comfortable driving there and walking in as if they're walking into the mall. They don't have to go the hospital; they have easy access and easy parking right outside the door."
 
Source: Dan Holwerda, North Ottawa Community Health System
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Could Grand Rapids' desolate State St. SE become a new kind of economic hub?

Grand Rapids' State St. SE has a dubious history: it's one of the city's oldest streets, its poor condition garnered it attention by the Sustainable Streets Task Force as one of the city's worst, and, right now at least, it's plenty desolate because of its huge expanses of surface parking lots.

But three Grand Rapids' visionaries -- Joshua Leffingwell, Lynee Wells, and Tyler Doornbos -- hope to change all of that by working with the Heritage Hill Neighborhood Association, the Downtown Development Authority, and anyone else who has a good idea to create a two-day showcase of economic innovation -- an urban laboratory of possibilities.

On May 18 and 19, the same days as the Heritage Hill Weekend Tour of Homes, all three blocks of State St. NW could be bustling with pop-up shops, food trucks, outdoor retail, Hollywood-set style backdrops, and parklets -- parking spaces transformed by local groups into temporary parks.

Leffingwell is quick to point out that this event is not a fair or an outdoor festival.

"One of the things we're most excited about is that we'll be keeping the street totally open," Leffingwell says. "We want people to experience what it would be like to have the food trucks in a parking lot, to have outdoor retailing. Kris Larson of the Downtown Development Authority told us to think of it as an urban laboratory where the neighborhood can experiment with some things the city hasn't been comfortable with, like food trucks and outdoor retailing."

Another thing Leffingwell says is top of mind is working from Heritage Hill's Area Specific Plan to create a business district opportunity within the neighborhood.

The idea grew from the national program Build a Better Block, and has received a $15,000 boost from the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority and $10,000 from Williams & Works.

Leffingwell says the group welcomes any and all ideas from anyone in the city, and seeks to involve interested retailers, food truck owners, and artists.

For more information or to get involved, visit facebook.com/betterblockgr, www.betterblockgr.com, or email info@betterblockgr.com.

Source: Joshua Leffingwell, Restate: Build A Better Block
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

A new ballroom, refurbished apartments, and now a facelift for Grand Rapids McKay Tower

When one of downtown Grand Rapids' most prominent buildings changed hands in May 2012, the new owners decided it was time to bring the grand lady into the 21st century by honoring her architectural history.

McKay Tower, with frontage on Pearl St. NW, Monroe Avenue NW, and Monroe Center NW, one of the city's busiest corners, started out in 1914 as a two-story structure. The building grew by two stories in the mid 1920s to make space for the Grand Rapids National Bank, and shortly thereafter, construction of the main tower brought McKay Tower to 17 stories.

On the second floor, a marble-clad former bank lobby with soaring ceilings is in the midst of a transformation into a majestic event space. On the 15th floor, three luxury apartments overlooking the city below will soon be completed and available for short- and long-term leases.

And now, owners Steadfast Property Holdings, LLC, are planning a small facelift that will preserve the striking terra cotta around the fourth floor for generations to come. Passersby will see scaffolding and covered entries to the main level retail shops in place soon.

"There's a ledge around the fourth floor where water is more likely to pool and the steel joints under the terra cotta are rusted out," says Director of Operations Chaundra Derks. "The steel is the support structure for the terra cotta, so the terra cotta has to be removed and the joints cleaned and redone to keep the terra cotta from falling."

Derks says the repairs will be finished in time for the busy ArtPrize season, and all of the building's tenants, including the retail shops, will be open as usual during construction.

"We want to bring the building back to what it used to be," Derks says. "We want people to be proud that so much care and attention went into making the building an important part of Grand Rapids."

Source: Chaundra Derks, Steadfast Property Holdings, LLC; Craig Clark, Clark Communications
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Netvantage Marketing touts Grand Rapids as a city where technology businesses can thrive

A year after opening its Grand Rapids office, East Lansing-based Netvantage Marketing has leased additional office space and brought on two full-time employees in Grand Rapids Tech Hub, an office community created specifically for technology and design entrepreneurs above San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 W. Fulton St.).  

Netvantage Marketing is not a web development company, but works with individual clients and outside web developers to market websites through search engines, using search engine optimization (SEO). Adam Henige, a co-owner with Joe Ford, says Netvantage Marketing provides the expertise to get websites higher rankings in Google searches, making them easier for new and existing customers to find.

"We've just come off our best January ever in the history of the company (founded 2008)," Henige says. "A lot of business development meetings are coming up because a lot of web developers need our expertise added to theirs, and we need their web development added to our expertise. It's the number one reason we've had a very, very busy 2013 so far."

The Grand Rapids location began with just one 200-square-foot office in the Grand Rapids Tech Hub, Henige says, but has doubled in size to accommodate two employees who relocated from East Lansing. Although the company operates from minimal square footage, Henige says the Tech Hub includes plenty of conference room and space to meet with clients when needed, and an energetic atmosphere.

"This is an exciting spot to be in," Henige says, "because everyone up here is a young company and very techie."

Source: Adam Henige, Netvantage Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Cascade's Windsor Cottage sets up second shop next to Brewery Vivant in East Hills shopping district

The quaint century-old cottage that has been Windsor Cottage (2899 Thornapple River Dr. SE, Grand Rapids) for the past 26 years overflows with gently-used luxury furniture. That fact, and a booming global Internet business, inspired owner Rick Santamaria to open a second location in a historic English Tudor mansion between Brewery Vivant and Maru Sushi & Grill.

The mansion (923 Cherry St. SE) was built originally as a funeral home and is part of a project by Grand Rapids-based Locus Development to revitalize the mansion, a chapel and carriage house next door (Brewery Vivant), and to add new construction (Maru Sushi).

"We don't photograph furniture or put anything on the website until it's in our store," Santamaria says. "We now have furniture waiting to get into the Cascade store because we don't have room. Our Cascade location is a destination; we've never had one person ever who was walking by and stopped in. The Cherry Street shop will generate walk-in traffic; people will shop while waiting for a brunch table."

Santamaria says the new 4,300-square-foot shop will add a new twist to his signature high-end consignment furniture offerings: plenty of space to feature Pillows By Dezign, locally made designer pillows designed by Marian Silverman, owner of The Home Studio (6744 Cascade Rd. SE).

The partnership with Windsor Cottage provides an opportunity for Pillows By Dezign to expand its product offerings and reach new customers, says company co-owner Brian Manley.

"We'll offer many of the same throw pillows we offer at The Home Studio, made from the same types of designer fabrics. We'll also offer more solids and more traditional patterns to complement the furnishings in Windsor Cottage," Manley says.

Santamaria says the renovation of the building has uncovered the original circa 1930 mosaic tile floor, original hardwood floors, and a stained glass window in the vestibule. Outdated lighting fixtures have been replaced with chandeliers.

Windsor Cottage opens at 10 a.m. on April 15.

Hours: Mon. - Thurs., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Source: Rick Santamaria, Windsor Cottage; Brian Manley, Pillows By Dezign
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Lifestyle Kitchen Studio, longtime East Grand Rapids design shop, relocates to historic home

The opportunity to purchase a historic 1847 home in Heritage Hill and restore it for your growing kitchen design business comes along once every 25 years, says Susan Bloss.

That's how long Bloss and her daughter, Holly Marie Peterson, have owned Lifestyle Kitchen Studio, formerly in East Grand Rapids. The duo bought a historic home at 222 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, which had been renovated decades ago for an ear, nose, and throat medical practice.

The studio moved in last week, an expansion that takes the business from 2,000 square feet to about 7,000, Bloss says. That allows plenty of room for showrooms that include several full kitchens, two working kitchens that can be used for cooking demonstrations and civic events, a laundry room/craft room showroom, and a mudroom display.

"There was a perception when we were in East Grand Rapids that we only work with high-end homes," Bloss says. "We love to do those homes, but we like to work with everyone else as well. We've structured our business to have a variety of price levels to fit a variety of budgets."

One area of focus is to make the entire studio accessible to persons with disabilities, Bloss says. She was paralyzed after contracting a mosquito-borne disease similar to West Nile Virus and gets around by way of a scooter or a walker. She also has a special needs daughter who is confined to a wheelchair.

"Everywhere in our showroom will be accessible," says Bloss. Both she and Peterson are Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists. "There won't be pinch points for someone with a wheelchair, scooter, or a walker."

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority recently approved $61,600 in matching Building Reuse Incentive Program grant monies for the renovation.

Bloss says the building's basement level will be available for lease for a complimentary retail business. The second level is available as leasable office space.

Hours: Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to noon; also open by appointment.

Source: Susan Bloss, Lifestyle Kitchen Studio
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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