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Hawthorne Collection online women's boutique to bring affordable fashions to Hudsonville

It started the way many businesses start, with friends talking about an idea. And now, a year after opening their online fashions store Hawthorne-Collection.com, next-door neighbors Leslie Plank and Stacy Gnewkowski are ready to open their first bricks-and-mortar location.

The shop at 3504 Chicago Dr. offers enough space for a main level showroom for the shop's specialty: affordable women's clothing, jewelry, and accessories. The lower level will be the order fulfillment and shipping area for the online store.

"About a year ago, Stacy and I were sitting and watching our kids play, and we said, hey we should sell women's jewelry online," says Plank with a laugh. "We started doing that and it grew, then we added accessories and it grew, then we added clothing. We kept thinking we'd love to open a store, no we can't do it, but couldn't shake the idea."

Plank says their experience at the 2014 West Michigan Women's Expo pushed them to take the leap from virtual business to storefront.

"We went to the women's expo in March, and we couldn't believe how many people came through and were so complimentary," Plank says. "Everyone kept saying how cute our booth was, we love your products and prices, and where's your store. Well, we don't have a store. Then they said, you need one."

Plank, a full-time mom of two, and Gnewkowski, a school psychologist and mom of three, came up with the shop's name because they both live on Hawthorne Ct. They have worked the business in the evenings, filling orders from their basements. They're still working out details like store hours, and Plank says they'll have limited hours at first so they can still have time for their families. They hope to open in early May.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Hawthorne Collection Boutique

Ada's Bistro Chloe Elan to close -- but it's not what you think

Bistro Chloe Elan owner Christine Gill is happy that the Ada restaurant along the Thornapple River has become a destination for people who want to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. But Gill wants the upscale eatery at 445 Ada Dr. to be a neighborhood gathering place where folks come to hang out, have a Michigan craft brew, and indulge in some great, reasonably priced food.

To that end, Gill will close Chloe Elan on April 14 and reopen on April 18 as Riverhouse Ada, a casual come-as-you-are pub with a focus on American regional comfort foods. Menu specialties, all made from scratch, include fish tacos, sandwiches, burgers, shrimp and grits, cottage pie, and a load of healthy salads, fresh fish, and grilled chicken.

Popular Chloe Elan offerings, such as the truffle fries, herbs and veggies grown in the onsite kitchen garden, and the summer concert series on the lawn, will stay.

"After being open for two years, I had an opportunity to do some demographic analysis and have come to the conclusion that people want something more on the casual side esthetically and menu-wise," Gill says. "I have worked with Christian Wiles of the Ada Museum and spent many wonderful hours there paging through the historical photos of Ada. Riverhouse Ada will give tribute to that history in the design and all the old black and white photos on the walls."

Gill hopes to bring her original Chloe Elan concept -- an homage to a daughter she gave up for adoption and the family that adopted her -- to downtown Grand Rapids in the future.

Riverhouse Ada will feature several craft brews on tap, a pool table, and dart board.

Gill expects to be busier than ever, and has begun the hiring process for more servers, bartenders, and server assistants.

The April 18 grand opening is a ticketed event. To inquire, call Bistro Chloe Elan.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Riverhouse Ada

Men's, women's casual activewear a staple at new West Michigan Clothing Co. in East Hills

Building on the success of their two stores, 108 Threads, in Ludington and Pentwater, husband and wife team Aleksy and Rebecca Urick decided the time is right to open West Michigan Clothing Company in Grand Rapids.

The location at 1005 Lake Drive SE, sandwiched between Marie Catrib's restaurant and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, seemed perfect for an apparel shop offering men's and women's outdoor wear that's classy enough for business casual attire.

"This is easy wear, easy care, wash it, dry it, wear it, no iron clothing that's great for traveling," says Rebecca Urick. |People are gravitating to this clothing for their everyday wear, for playing around in the backyard with the kids, or running, doing yoga, or reading a book. We focus mostly on casual wear, which also can be tailored to a business casual attire, depending on the office atmosphere."

The selection includes a variety of styles in popular colors, including army green and navy blue, which Urick says are hot hues for summer wear. Pants, shorts, shirts, tops, dresses, and skirts round out the casual styles, many fashioned from organic bamboo or cotton, or from recycled materials like water bottles, polyester, or wood (tencel). The shop also has a selection of yoga wear and running apparel, flip-flops, sunglasses, hats, and jewelry.

Brand names include Mountain Hardware, Horny Toad, Kuhl, Prana, Avantura Clothing, Lole, Sorel, Sanuk, and Reef.

"I have done a lot of yoga in Grand Rapids, and all my yoga friends are here," says Urick. "We'd go to Marie Catrib's for food, and go shopping in the area at the cute stores, so I felt like I knew the area. And we're in a LEED-Gold building. We're so excited to be in Grand Rapids and can't wait to have people come and check us out."

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon. - Sat.; noon to 4 p.m. Sun.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of West Michigan Clothing Company

A Moveable Feast food truck on the road soon following successful Kickstarter campaign

If you believe in signs from the foodie gods, you can't miss this big one from A Moveable Feast food truck's Kickstarter campaign: the random, over-goal amount of $7,052 matches the house number of the Brighton home where truck owner Brennan Summers grew up.

Summers launched the Kickstarter campaign for $5,000 -- enough money to cover the cost of a vinyl wrap for the food truck formerly known as The Silver Spork. Summers bought the truck from owner Molly Crist after he and his wife, Jennifer, decided to move back to Michigan from Minneapolis. The couple relocated there five years ago for Summers' former job with Marriott International.

"It's been a dream to operate a food truck for several years," Summers says. "I identified Grand Rapids early on, and have been following the food truck scene with The Silver Spork and Paul Lee with What The Truck as it's developed."

Summers says he's nearly finalized a downtown Grand Rapids lunchtime location outside a local business, but says the business owner isn't ready to announce it yet. In the meantime, Summers has applied for food vending spots at several farmers markets, and the truck goes in the shop this week to be wrapped.

Summers spent a year managing Gastro Truck, a food truck in Minneapolis, after leaving his job at Marriott. Gastro Truck inspired him to take a chance on the menu.

A Moveable Feast will serve a Bacon-Jam Grilled Cheese, made with a smoky, onion-y bacon jam, Tillamook cheddar cheese, and bread baked on the truck.

Other temptations include grilled whitefish taco topped with red cabbage slaw and chipotle aioli; roasted beet salad with candied Marcona almonds and citrus vinaigrette; Senegalese-style peanut soup; and what Summers dubs as a "pretty mean New England Clam Chowder."

A Moveable Feast is available for parties and events. If all goes according to plan, opening day in downtown Grand Rapids will be April 22 or 23.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of A Moveable Feast

Artistic expression, relaxation, and fun -- Arts & Carafes Studio welcomes adults, kids

Shortly after Jaclyn Sporte took her mom, Michelle Hardy, to a wine and painting studio near Detroit, the duo decided to open their own business to bring the fun and relaxation to West Michigan.

"We hadn't been that relaxed in a very long time," Sporte says. "She called me the next week and said, 'I want to do this, will you do this with me?' and I said yes." The mobile version of Arts & Carafes Studio was born, and the two hired seasoned artists and students from Kendall College of Art & Design who are pursuing art education careers.

Now, after holding classes at local restaurants like Peppino's, Brann's, and Malarkey's, Sporte and Hardy will open a stationary studio in the Ada Hillside Center, 6749 Fulton Street. The studio rounds out the mobile offerings, which will continue, by providing a "go-to" location where kids, teens, and adults can create their own take-home painted masterpiece in just a couple of hours.

The studio has applied for a tavern license, which will allow it to sell beer and wine by the glass during classes.

"This is art as entertainment, and we have art education majors and seasoned artists that take our customers step-by-step through a painting," Sporte says. "We have a calendar on our website that's set by the 15th of the prior month, so you can go to the website to see what painting we're doing, when, and where we'll be located for that class."

All class costs include all supplies. Adults paint a 16-in. x 20-in. acrylic painting for $35. Kids ages seven on up and teens can attend age-specific Saturday classes for $20.

Sporte says the studio donates 10 percent of every class fee paid to a local charity.

You can visit the website here.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Arts & Carafes Studio

Racing event specialists join forces, create energetic Ignite Your Event race management partnership

After working many years together at cycle road races, running marathons, and triathlons, Melissa Werkman of Tidal Nine Events and Brian Bangma of 42-85 Professional Race Timing Services decided it was time to join forces. They’ve recently formed Ignite Your Event, a full-service race event consultancy that helps race organizers create memorable events.

Although the two live an hour apart, Werkman in Grand Haven and Bangma in Ada, online tools enable them to create an entire event, assign tasks, upload and download files, interact with the client, and interact with other professionals involved with each individual event.

Bangma, a professional race timer, has also been a cycle racer and a race director. Werkman is also a former road racer and triathlete, plus still races mountain bikes. The two are currently working together on the Holland Haven Marathon. A short list of their other collaborations includes cycle races and trail runs: King's Day Criterium, Meijer State Games Time Trial, Zeeland Criterium, and 3-2-1 Harvest Run.

"There are a lot of Michigan events that aren't well known or aren't putting their best foot forward," Bangma says. "It's our job to have them have better everything -- social media, design, racer presentations, etcetera -- from the smallest detail to the largest component; we want to help them grow their event."

"This is year-round work," Werkman says. "Planning starts nine months to a year out. If you look at a race calendar, there are several races almost every weekend of the year regardless of the weather. What we're finding is the racing is pretty busy, so to create new events is not as advantageous as supporting the events that are already in place."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Ignite Your Event

Wife, husband media marketing team bring Big Apple expertise, including sales training, to Eastown

Wife and husband media marketers Carey and Chris Potter decided in 2005 to leave their busy lives in New York City and Richmond, VA behind, and reconnect with family and friends in East Grand Rapids in person. In 2009, Carey went through what many Michiganders have -- downsizing and job elimination -- so she launched Brick House Marketing Group from the couple's brick home.

As the company added clients, such as Emergency Care Specialists and Fox Motors, and Chris quit his job and came aboard full-time, the need to separate the workspace from the home space became a necessity. In February, amid deep snows, the couple moved into a 650-square-foot office at 1514 Wealthy St. SE, above Wolfgang's and Sip Organic Juice Bar.

"Chris and I met in New York City; we were both working for Katz Media, the largest media representation firm in the world," Carey says.

Chris chimes in, "Where we worked in the radio division, and repped radio stations for every market in America. We would fight for the business against each other," he says with a laugh.

Brick House specializes in strategic marketing, media planning and buying, PR, advertising, and event planning. They even provide sales training and coaching, a service not found at typical marketing firms.

"I developed a sales training program over all my years of sales management," Chris says, citing his experience at Katz, then running Richmond radio stations for Cox Media, then management at Citadel Broadcasting and Clear Channel.

"One thing we always find, it's not about selling something, it's about people's needs and how do we address their needs," he adds.

"Moving back to Grand Rapids was an easy decision because of the growth and development that's happening in this town," adds Carey. "We want to be part of it and help change the landscape to help companies grow."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Brick House Marketing Group

Grand Rapids' first market rate church-to-apartments project begins pre-leasing

616 Development launched its pre-leasing activites for their 616 Lofts on Prospect project this weekend, hosting walking tours of the building undergoing renovations for interested tenants. Though another church-to-residential project is under way a few blocks south in East Hills, this project marks Grand Rapids' first "market rate" version of this national trend, which 616 hopes will help fill the need for Grand Rapids' exploding demand for market rate housing in and around downtown.

The project will consist of 22 market rate apartments ranging from $750 - $1800 per month depending on the size and the location within the old church. Apartments in the main sanctuary, keeping intact the soaring ceilings, massive wood beams and arched stained glass windows, were already in demand, with several already spoken for by the time the open house was in full swing on Saturday: eight of the 22 total units were leased by the time we joined the tour.

Working with locally based Lott3Metz Achitecture, 616 Development carved the apartment units into every nook and cranny of the building, with 3 and 1/2 full floors of apartments. One of the garden level apartments feaures the old brick fireplace that used to provide warmth for a community room that the church used. Another unit offers an old stage that will give the impression of a raised living room. Many of the main sanctuary apartments feature loft space that can be used for storage, with the largest sanctuary unit providing two floors of living space with breathtaking views of the massive arched ceilings and timber beams.

Unlike a lot of white-box renovation projects in the city, no two units in this project appear to be the same. Ornate elements of the church, including hand-carved bannisters and archways in the halls, will be left in place to provide a one-of-a-kind feel to the entire building.

The downtown apartment market continues to stay hot, with over 500 new apartment units in the planning stages. Only about 150 of those are market rate, which 616 hopes to increase to around 200 new market rate units per year to help fill the demand, which shows no signs of ebbing any time soon.

616 will have additional open houses over the upcoming weeks, as well as set up private tours through their leasing office.

Writer: Jeff Hill, Rapid Growth Media
Photos by Jeff Hill

Grand Rapids' first West Side distillery of fine spirits could be just months away

Entrepreneurs Kyle Van Strien and Jon O'Connor have some spirited plans to bring Grand Rapids its first neighborhood distillery and tasting room.

The pair and a silent partner purchased an 8,000-square-foot building at 537 Leonard St. NW on the corner of Leonard and Quarry St. NW, and have begun the process of converting it into Long Road Distillers, LLC, a full-on spirits distillery with customer amenities.

First, two upstairs apartments and a main level clothing store must be vacated, according to federal law. The building must be completely production-ready and a bond in place before the final licenses can be procured.

"We will be doing production onsite in about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet for production and storage," Van Strien says. "We'll serve cocktails and have the spirits tasting room in the front, with overflow seating upstairs. We'll produce everything onsite. We want to take the microbrewery model and apply it to the distillery, and have people come and hang out and learn about how we source and make the products."

O'Connor, a real estate broker and appraiser with West Michigan Appraisers, and Van Strien, project coordinator for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, will be the head distillers and will work at the business full-time once everything is in place.

"Our goal is to source as much of our inputs from Michigan as possible; our vodka will have as much grain from West Michigan as possible," O'Connor says. "We'll start with vodka, gin, a flavored vodka, possibly a rum that will be sourced outside Michigan for the cane sugar, and an un-aged whiskey. We'll grow into producing aged whiskey and rye, which take years to age. Smaller companies have the ability to push the envelope with experimentation and work with fruit, grains, and botanicals to provide flavor and sources for our products."

No opening date has been set, but the guys are shooting for a fall 2014 opening, if the licensing and build-out processes fall into place.

Van Strien and O'Connor are good friends with Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus, who own Mitten Brewing just across Quarry St. Mitten Brewing aims to triple its beer production by expanding into a second building on the same corner. Read the story here.

"We can't sell their product, they can't sell ours (because of licensing restrictions)," Van Strien says. "But we're definitely excited about partnering with them and catalyzing economic development in the area. There's a lot of new energy developing right there on that corner."

Long Road Distillers goes before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission for a special land use permit on March 27.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Mitten Brewing tops its success with plans to open larger beer production facility across the street

Max Trierweiler says he and partner Chris Andrus are overwhelmed by the unexpected success of their Mitten Brewing Company since opening just 17 months ago. A plan to expand the taproom seating from 65 seats to 204 to meet demand means the brew house has to increase production to serve all those extra guests.

"It's the chicken and the egg thing," says Trierweiler. "We don't have more room to add tanks in this building at 527 Leonard (NW), but we need to triple our capacity to a 20-barrel brew house and 1,500 barrels (46,500 gallons) next year. Last night (Sunday, March 8) we were down to only one beer on tap because of how busy the weekend was. We literally can't make enough beer to keep up with demand."

 Mitten Brewing's current three-barrel system brews just 93 gallons at a time. The solution is to build a brew house across the street at 540 Leonard St. NW that can produce 10,000 barrels when running at full steam, which should be about five years away, Trierweiler says.

Mitten Brewing will lease 10,000 square feet of the building that houses Eagle's Nest Church, and Trierweiler expects to have the brewing equipment installed and operational by the end of July.

"We'll still brew at the taproom," he says, "and will only be brewing across the street once a week. Fifty percent of what we brew there will be our Country Strong IPA, we'll brew Triple Crown Brown, and we will have a seasonal beer. We are planning to distribute more beer, starting with just kegs to be on tap at more restaurants around town, then will add a canning line in a few years."

Mitten Brewing appears this week before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission to ask for the special land use permit required for alcohol manufacturing, and to request approval to produce craft liquors in the future.

"We didn't ever even expect in a million years to sell as much food and beer as we have, and we're absolutely blown away with the support we've received," Trierweiler adds. "And with Long Road Distillers going in across the street, we're instantly a hit corner, just like that, overnight."

See the story on Long Road Distillers here.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images by Adam Bird

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Tidal Nine Events leads the pack to give women road racers opportunities, fair award monies

Melissa Werkman is the first to say she doesn't promote just women's cycling events. But she has a passion to create opportunities for women racers to race at their athletic level, and, just as important, to win award monies equal to those offered in men's races.

So Werkman, the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan by day, started Tidal Nine Events -- a racing events consultancy that organizes cycle races and running marathons, and helps race organizers put every detail in place. Her experience stems from a five-year stint with Gazelle Sports as community programmer, running their sporting events, and assisting with other events such as The Fifth Third Riverbank Run and the Reeds Lake Triathlon.

For cycling events, Werkman acts as liaison between the event and USA Cycling, the governing body for race certification.

"There is a big movement nationwide to start calling professional races on the opportunities for women cyclists," says Werkman, a former triathlete and road racer who now races mountain bikes. "There have been cycling events regionally, and if there was a women's race, there wasn't sponsorship (no prize money), because they were small. So the women racers weren't coming to the event because there wasn't any money and very little recognition. I'm working to bring some parity to the involvement and to the payout."

Tidal Nine Events works with events before the start and long after the finish, beginning sometimes 10 months before the event. Werkman can handle any or all of the details, including consulting; procuring equipment such as fencing, barricades, staging, podiums, tents, portable toilets; finding sponsors; finding timers; creating an exciting experience for spectators; establishing safety protocols for weather and other emergencies, and medical response for riders; planning the race route, getting the city or county on board, getting all permits and licenses, and marking the route; making sure racers have their after-race needs met, such as food; and more.

Werkman is busy with the Tulip Time King's Day Criterium: nine men's races and two women's. In 2013, the race, then called the Queen's Day Criterium, was one of the first races in Michigan to offer an equivalent cash payout for women and men, says Werkman.

She has worked with Fisk Knob Time Trial and Miller Energy Criterium. This year, she's also helping coordinate Kalamazoo's state road race championship Race for Wishes, and a brand new runner's marathon, The Holland Haven Marathon.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Tidal Nine Events

To be "PR agency for the new economy," Burch Partners innovates with flexible business model

Brian Burch says the decision to launch his public relations firm Burch Partners a year ago had one caveat: keep overhead costs as close to zero as possible. Burch has managed to stay true to this goal by establishing workspaces at client locations, effectively embedding himself and his staff within the organizations.

Burch, a public relations professional for 14 years, began Burch Partners as a one-person operation. After eight months, he needed to bring on a full-time account assistant, followed by a part-time communications professional a month later. That part-time position will be full-time in a few weeks.

"Right now, we have no central office. We're all working out of our clients' spaces or our homes," Burch says. "I really like working out of Start Garden because there's a lot of opportunity coming through, and those serendipitous happenings come through there more often. I think we're going to end up having an office, but we still want to be out in the community having those serendipitous meetings, so we'll look at co-working places like The Factory. We want to be that PR agency for the new economy, so we run lean right now and want to be sure our clients get the best value."

Burch says the biggest challenge used to be keeping everyone at Burch Partners connected and communicating no matter whether staff members were at home, at a coffee shop, or working from a client office, such as Start Garden, the Downtown Market, or ArtPrize. He says that even just six years ago, that was nearly impossible. But technology like Dropbox and GLIP collaboration software allows them to monitor document and calendar updates in real time and enables easy sharing of information through in-software messaging.

"I feel very strongly that being at the front end of technology and sharing knowledge is very important," Burch says. "I'm obsessive about finding ways to connect and collaborate with each other, even if we're not in the same building."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Burch Partners

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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