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Treasures of Heritage Hill homes the sole offerings of new Grand Rapids decor store

Grand Rapids' historic Heritage Hill neighborhood is known for its expansive mansions, majestic Victorian architecture, and for the intriguing home décor items and antiques found in many of those homes. The idea to create a home décor and interior design store that offers an array of merchandise found only in Heritage Hill homes struck John Kershek, John Potter, Doug Meekes, and Greg McNally as a unique opportunity -- for them, for Heritage Hill homeowners, and for customers.

Colline Patrimoine, French for "Heritage Hill," is a shop filled with antique furniture, mid-century modern furnishings, china, crystal, silver, lamps, paintings, and more, all displayed with a French Market vibe that gives customers four prices for each item. The store's location at 447 S. Division Ave. is just one block from the new Downtown Market.

"The tickets will say what street it came from, the price today, and three more dates with price reductions for the dates that are farther away," says John Kershek. "Customers can gamble and hope that the item is still here when they come back, or buy it today. We want to turn the whole store over every 10 to 12 weeks."

Kershek says that with thousands of households in Heritage Hill, the opportunities to fill the 1,300-square-foot store are endless. He has several hundred names on a growing email list, and can request merchandise via email or alert sellers to what buyers are looking for.

"When you have a big house, you fill it up with stuff, and now there are a lot of people saying 'we have a set of china for 18 and don't need it,' or 'I have five sets of china and want to sell three,'" Kershek says. "We have Grand Rapids-made Stickley and Forslund furniture, and just acquired a collection of unbelievable vintage aprons from the '30s and '40s."

Kershek says there are items from the '60s and '70s, as well. If it's lived some of its life in Heritage Hill, the store owners will consider offering it. Items include globes that show the old Cold War country names, and even some art created by artists who live in Heritage Hill.

Store hours: Tues., Weds. 5 -9; Fri. 1 - 9; Sat. 10 - 6; Sun. 12 - 5; and by appointment. Hours will change after the Downtown Market opens.

Source: John Kershek, Colline Patrimoine
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Colline Patrimoine

Handmade goods, zines, indie publications are all part of new Have Company on Avenue for the Arts

Have Company is not your grandmother's traditional general store. The new shop in a live/work space at 136 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, will offer customers a selection of handmade goods by local and non-local artists, as well as a number of independent publications and underground zines. But that's not all.

Every few months the store will feature one of its artists, who will have one of the two expansive storefront windows to style with his or her own creations. The first featured artist, Sally England, has created a modern macramé and glass globe art piece that store owners Marlee Grace and John Hanson hope will entice customers inside to explore England's contemporary macramé plant hangers and leather-and-rope jewelry.

"The general store embraces kind of the old dry goods aspects of handmade clothing, fabric goods, (and) household goods like handmade soap and handmade laundry soap," Grace says. "We carry things from people in lots of different places; we like to support other makers that inspire us or have stores of their own that we really like."

Jacob Vroon, owner and creator of Harbinger Leather Design, shares the live/work space with the store in an unusual way: his living space is the rear section of the store and his leather studio is in the basement. Harbinger Leather goods will be a staple offering at Have Company.

Other artists and their works include Rose Beerhorst's rag rugs, Eliza Fernand's ceramics and clothing, and Bjorn Sparrman's pottery.

Regarding the zines and indie publications, Grace says these, like the visual arts, are forms of self-expression that she and Hanson want to promote.

"These (publications) can be small or big, professionally bound, or not -- where anyone can write about anything or draw about anything and they don't have to wait for some publishing company to tell them it's good enough to put it out to world," Grace says. Have Company will carry publications already created, and will have in-store workshops where people can ceate their own.

The store opens Sat., July 13, noon to 10 p.m. The opening corresponds with the Avenue for the Arts street market of art and music. Regular store hours will be Tues. thru Sat., noon to 9 p.m.

Read more about the store and its Artist in Residency program here.

Source: Marlee Grace, Have Company
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Have Company

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New salon on Grand Rapids' Monroe North aims to bring personal service back in style

Brindle & Blonde salon opened last week in Grand Rapids' Monroe North business district with a mission to offer personalized hair styling services for customers who want a relaxing, one-on-one salon experience.

Located on the corner of Monroe North and Trowbridge (600 N. Monroe Ave.) in the same building as the Speak EZ Lounge, the salon's bright atmosphere plays up the abundance of daylight that streams through two walls of windows.

The natural daylight was a big selling point of the space, says Salon Manager Molly Savage. She says that salon owners Whitney Hewitt and Jamie Brinks "wanted to keep it peaceful and relaxing and inviting."

Hewitt and Brinks met some six years ago when they both worked at Echo salon. Both dreamed of having their own salons one day. Brindle & Blonde employs six stylists, all of whom have several years' experience in hair styling.

The salon offers a selection of hair and body products, plus styling services for men and women, including custom cuts and styles, hair coloring, facial waxing, formal hairstyles, hair extensions, body wraps, and makeup application. The salon is also busy creating specialty services for brides and bridal parties.

"When you walk in the door, you'll start with a consultation with a stylist to talk about what you like about your hair and what you don't like about it," Savage says. "You can bring in a photograph and the stylist will consult on if that style works for you. We want to get your hair style to where you'll love it."

Source: Molly Savage, Brindle & Blonde
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Brindle & Blonde Salon

Creating shared community solar energy systems -- workshops offered at Muskegon's MAREC

What's involved in creating a community-based shared solar energy system? That's the broad question that will be answered at a series of workshops offered at Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) this month.

The workshops, which began July 9 but are still open for anyone to attend, allow participants to pick the brains of some of the top innovators in alternative energy while learning about how to create a solar energy system that will benefit entire communities, not just one home or business.

Community solar systems might be created by a neighborhood, a business district, a church, or an organization. Members invest in building the system on a particular site, the energy generated is sold to the utility grid, and the income is either credited to the members on their energy bill or they receive a payment for it.

"It's like a community garden," says Kim Walton, MAREC program director. "They finance the solar panels and install them on a brownfield site or in a park. Everybody puts in a little and everybody gets back a little. It's a really nice option for people who don't own their own home or don't have a good solar site because they have too many trees or some other obstacle."

The workshops will cover case studies, utility company policies, regulations, site selection, business models, methods for organizing communities, and more.

Workshop leaders include: Anya Schoolman, founder of the Community Power Network, Washington D.C.; Sara Bronin, program director for the Center for Energy and Environmental Law, University of Connecticut; Kim Walton, MAREC; Mark Clevey, Michigan Energy Office; John Sarver, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association; Rachel Johnson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative; and David Konkle, community solar project coordinator, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, and others.

The workshops are co-sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and take place every Thursday in July, from 6 - 9 p.m. The cost is $60 whether you attend one workshop or all five. For more information, contact Kim Walton at waltonk@gvsu.edu or (616) 331-6907.

Source: Kim Walton, Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Baker Lofts $18.5M rehab brings affordable living to vacant warehouse on Grand Rapids' SW side

A former furniture warehouse that many thought had seen its last days is a new, eco-friendly living space kitty-corner from Grand Rapids' new Downtown Market.

Baker Lofts (40 Logan St. SW), an $18.5 million renovation of the Baker Furniture warehouse, brings 87 affordable rate (lower income) apartments to an area serviced by two bus lines and in a region of the city once classified as a "food desert," prompting development of the Downtown Market. The project awaits LEED certification.

Mike Jacobson, president of LC Companies, LLC, developer of the project, says the 125,000-square-foot building began construction in September 2012 and has already leased three of the five floors. The fourth and fifth floors are still under construction and will be completed in a few weeks.

"We did a market study that told us the vacancy rate of affordable housing was basically zero in the central city," Jacobson says. "Our experience is that the building of housing runs in cycles with the economy -- in the mid-2000s people lost their homes, and turned to rental housing as the only housing they could have. There wasn't a lot of housing being built during that time, and construction of affordable housing in this market hasn't met the demand that's there. There really hasn't been, in eight or nine years, an increase in affordable housing. In that period, all that was built replaced what was being demolished or being rebuilt."

To-date, some 45 of the 65 residents in the building work in downtown Grand Rapids in restaurants and retail shops, says Jacobson.

Jacobson adds that, although he lives in Grand Rapids and practiced law here for 35 years, Baker Lofts is LC Companies, LLC's first venture into the Grand Rapids housing market. The firm develops only affordable rate housing and has focused its efforts in Muskegon, Traverse City, Petoskey, and Michigan's east side.

Rockford Construction: construction and construction management
Catalyst Partners: LEED consultants
Rebecca Smith Hoffman, Past Perfect: historic preservation consultant

Source: Mike Jacobson, LC Companies, LLC; Tyler Lecceadone, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of SeyferthPR

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Saugatuck Brewing expands brew house, bottling operations as distribution market grows

For the past two years, Saugatuck Brewing (2948 Blue Star Hwy., Douglas, Mich.) has brought home Best In Show from Frankenmuth's World Expo of Beer where some 700 beers compete. But that grand accomplishment is just the tip of the iceberg for this growing company.

With the company's 2012 expansion into the Greater Chicago market, and a future expansion into Indiana, Saugatuck Brewing needs more brewing equipment and more office space. Construction begins in October to expand the brewing operations and offices into two-thirds of the space now occupied by the brewery's banquet area, The Singapore Room.

The expansion will enable the brewery to quadruple its brewing capacity from the 10-barrel system it has now to a 40-barrel system (1,200 gallons). While VP of Marketing Kerry O'Donohue expects a gradual increase in production over time, the point is that by the time the new equipment is in place in mid-spring 2014, the brewery will be ready to increase its output substantially.

"We produced 500 barrels in 2009," O'Donohue says. "In 2010, we doubled that and produced around 1,000 barrels and in January 2011, we expanded the equipment and increased capacity to 2,000 barrels. In 2012, we produced 4,000 barrels, and at this point will produce around 6,500 barrels in 2013."

Additional new equipment will allow Saugatuck Brewing to bottle, label, and package its beers in one process, something its existing equipment can't do.

O'Donohue says the brewery's most popular brews are Singapore IPA, Oval Beach Blonde Ale, Pathfinder Pale Ale, and ESB (extra special beer) Amber. Seasonal releases and the brewery's proprietary Brewers Reserve Series include a Serrano Pepper Ale, Double Black Ale, Hop Scotch Ale, Continuum IPA, and a Neapolitan Milk Stout that has vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors.

Source: Kerry O'Donohue, Saugatuck Brewing; Dianna Stampfler, Promote Michigan
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Saugatuck Brewing

Ele's Place opens Grand Rapids location to provide peer support to grieving West Michigan kids

When a child experiences a major life loss such as the death of a parent, sibling, friend, or grandparent, they and their families often don't know where to turn to get support through the grieving process.

Ele's Place, a peer support organization with offices in Lansing and Ann Arbor, hopes that by opening a Grand Rapids office the organization can bring the peer support to the West Michigan kids who need it.

Ele's (pronounced Ellie's) Place opens Thurs., June 27, at Third Reformed Church, 2060 Michigan St. NE. The offices operate out of the former parsonage next door at 2000 Michigan St. NE and the peer groups meet in seven classrooms in the church building.

To start, the support sessions are every Thursday evening beginning at 5:45 p.m. Families arrive and sit down to a free supper. Children ages three to 18 then attend facilitated peer group sessions based on their ages and needs. The groups are designed for fun, to help the children make new friends with other kids going through similar losses. The activities vary from structured or unstructured playtime, music, art, or physical activities. All sessions are free.

Managing Director Gerilyn May says one in 20 children will lose a parent to death by the time the child is 18. That means that, at this moment, some 11,000 children in Kent County may be dealing with the death of a parent. Many children also experience the death of a sibling, friend, or grandparent.

"Ele's Place is a place to talk about their losses with other kids who understand where they're at," says May. "Our peer support allows the kids to bond with each other and create their own safe zone where they can trust the kids that are in their group."

While the children are in their support sessions, the adults who came with them are required to remain onsite. They receive support from social workers, clinicians, and other adults grieving losses.

To find out more about the services offered, click here.

Source: Gerilyn May, Ele's Place
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Ele's Place

Making Thyme Kitchen makes a move to the Downtown Market

After eight years of making and selling ready-to-cook meals for busy households from a storefront in East Hills and a downtown church kitchen, Making Thyme Kitchen is moving to new digs: the Grand Rapids Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave. SW). The Market is scheduled to open in August 2013.

"We're very excited about the move," says Karen Bryan, who owns Making Thyme along with her husband, Ken Bryan. "We'll have a big, brand-new kitchen built to our specifications, and we'll get more exposure to people shopping for food. It also puts us closer to our producers and fresh food ingredients. And the larger space will enable us to offer a bigger variety of menu items."

Making Thyme Kitchen plans to continue to offer its popular meals, including Beef Peanut Satay, Sicilian Chicken with Pine Nuts and Raisins, and Mushroom Nut Loaf with Marinara. In addition, they will introduce new, ready-to-eat, fully cooked meals, as well as products by the pound, such as Green Beans with Butter and Lemon, Gingered Snap Peas, and Cuban Black Bean Salad.

The Bryans eat what they cook, so customers know it's good. Not only does a meal from Making Thyme Kitchen save time in the home kitchen, it cuts down on waste, too.

"Making Thyme Kitchen redefines what 'fast food' can be," says Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market. "In five minutes, a customer can stop at the Market and pick up the kind of dinner you would make for yourself if you had all the time in the world."

The Downtown Market follows a long tradition of urban markets that were once central to the food systems in American cities. Today, these up-and-coming markets cultivate positive relationships among people from all walks of life, provide a forum for artisan food entrepreneurs and their crafts, promote sustainable food production, and encourage healthy living.

Sources: Karen Bryan, Making Thyme Kitchen; Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Making Thyme Kitchen

Humanity Boutique: MoDiv helps make a dream come true

The five female members of the six-person Hunt family have long dreamed of owning a boutique together in the Grand Rapids area. All have a passion for fashion, and each excels in different areas of the retail realm. After 10 years of dreaming and planning, the Hunt women took the final step toward realizing their dream.

It was MoDiv's (Shops @ Monroe Center & Division, 40 Monroe Center NW) smaller, interchangeable spaces and short-term leases that enabled Deborah Hunt and her four daughters to open their shop, Humanity Boutique, in late March 2013.

Humanity Boutique's goal is to provide clients with distinctive, modern apparel and accessories at affordable prices. Styles are not re-ordered, so get 'em while you can -- once it's sold out, it's gone for good. That way, the store's stock stays fresh with new styles arriving weekly -- the better to keep up with the fast-paced and ever-changing world of fashion.  

Look closely at the shop's logo: letters H-U-N-T are highlighted to bring attention to the last name of the mother-daughters team. Inside the store is an array of clothing, accessories, and jewelry that bring a singular edge to women’s fashion.
Daughter Courtney purchases products with one of her sisters and often tends to the store with her mom. Her sisters take care of the behind-the-scenes work, including accounting, purchasing, social media, and website updates.

The Hunt women will strive to build their clientele, learn what delights their customers, and offer unique and edgy pieces.

Source: Humanity Boutique website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Humanity Boutique

New business entity Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. combines talent, resources of 4 economic dev. groups

After a thorough search for the perfect place to set up shop, new business entity Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. (DGRI) plans to move into the ground floor of the Federal Square Building, 29 Pearl St. NW, in July 2013. The 4,300-square-foot space last housed Three Crowns Bistro, an eatery that closed eight years ago.

Key to the choice of space were accessibility, visibility, cost, and a community meeting space. As a bonus, the move will breathe new life into an underutilized building in the city's core.

The goal of the DGRI is to combine the staffs, resources, and energies of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Downtown Alliance (DA), Office of Special Events (OSE), and Downtown Improvement Authority (DID) into one cohesive and effective organization. These agencies are currently in different locations and operate under different state and local authorities. Under the umbrella of DGRI, each agency will retain its board and authority, and the new agency's board will include representatives from each. DDA Director Kris Larson will serve as DGRI's CEO.

The new business structure hopes to create a more entrepreneurial culture and approach to downtown development, marketing, and management. The central city setting is ideal, and the new space offers enough room for a meeting space for up to 50 people. The location offers employees and visitors parking in an Ellis Parking surface lot just west of the building and in a city-owned parking ramp across Pearl Street.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.'s mission is to create a welcoming environment by providing a safe, friendly, clean, and attractive downtown. The organization is in the business of improving and sustaining a sense of place, fostering a prosperous Downtown through direct and support investments, and developing tools to encourage economic vitality and improve urban life.

Source: DDA Website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Former Walgreens on Michigan St. gets new life as Goodwill resale store

Since Walgreens moved out of the vast retail space at Michigan St. NE and Diamond Ave. NE about a year ago, the building and parking lot have remained sadly vacant except for the occasional construction contractor working on the interior.
 
But by September, the store next to Logan's Alley will reopen as a Goodwill resale shop, sporting a new roofline and new landscaping. The revamp of the 12,850-square-foot building includes the addition of a drive-through donation drop-off on the west side.
 
Goodwill Communications Officer Jill Wallace says Goodwill has eyed the Michigan Street/Medical Mile corridor for some time. Increased traffic and activity, especially by people traveling to and from work in the Medical Mile, is a good fit for Goodwill, combined with changes in recent years concerning the type of customer Goodwill attracts.
 
"There are still lower income people who shop at Goodwill, certainly, but the majority of people who shop at Goodwill now are looking to upcycle," Wallace says. "Upcycling and recycling have becoming a way of life; it's not a trend anymore, which has changed Goodwill significantly. People aren't coming to Goodwill because they are low income, but because they want to save the environment."
 
Wallace says the new store will create 20 jobs where Goodwill can place people from its job training programs. The store is just around the corner from the Goodwill job training and placement services center at 455 Grand Ave. NE.
 
Wallace says the new store will look and feel more like a department store than the Goodwill stores of the past, based on a new retail model the company is adopting for all its stores.
 
Store hours: Mon. - Sat., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
 
Source: Jill Wallace, Goodwill Industries
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Reality in Grand Rapids' Eastown inspires fun times with music festival/circus-style novelty product

It's billed as a "festival shop," a collection of novelty products, clothing, and accessories where people who frequent music festivals can find any type of garb, headgear, and glow-in-the-dark accessories for concerts or music festivals. But to pin it down to just one genre of fun-inspired products? Impossible.
 
Reality, a festival/circus/hula hoop/bonsai/camping store, will open in Eastown's Kingsley Building (1423 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids) on June 22, the same day as that business district's popular Bizarre Bazaar.
 
Owners Kaylyn Gole, 23, and Casey Connolly, 22, solidified their plans to open a one-of-a-kind shop after several months traveling the U.S. in their van in 2012. The impromptu trip was how the couple cleared their heads and got a grip on their future after being attacked by three men at their former Wyoming, Mich. home.
 
"I've always been optimistic and expect the best out of life," Gole says. "We've helped each other evolve into the idea of 'let's do something that we really enjoy and are passionate about.' We were discussing these dreams with Dr. Robert Chatfield and he tossed it out on the table that he'd like to help."
 
Gole says Chatfield offered to invest in the business, and she and Connolly got to work creating the opportunity to open the shop. 
 
The shop offers a plethora of products for clientele interested in the entertaining and lively kinesthetic arts -- products like metallic and LED hula-hoops, diabolos, and fire-eating props. The store will also offer camping gear, water bottles, all manner of light-up accessories, clothing, incense, oils, 3-D tapestries, candles, jewelry making accessories – the list goes on.
 
Gole says the store is working on partnerships with local businesses and entertainers. Connolly's interest in bonsai connected him with GrowCo and an opportunity to offer bonsai plants and kits at Reality. A proposed partnership with the entertainers of Bangarang Circus is underway.
 
The couple has plans to engage so many people in hula-hooping for health that Grand Rapids will become the first Hoop City USA.
 
Source: Kaylyn Gole, Reality
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

LINC looks to new art gallery to attract patrons, enliven economy in Grand Rapids' Madison Square

A new art gallery in a once-vacant and dilapidated storefront could be a catalyst for generating new interest and economic growth in a Grand Rapids neighborhood that's experiencing an economic rebirth.
 
LINC Community Revitalization, a nonprofit responsible for the investment of tens of millions of redevelopment dollars in the Madison Square Neighborhood, will have a ribbon cutting event Thurs., June 13 at 341 Hall St. SE, the site of the new LINC Gallery at 341 Hall. The new gallery is a $400,000 rehabilitation of a foreclosed building that was once an auto detail shop.
 
"In many metropolitan areas, they're using art as an economic engine," says Jorge Gonzalez, LINC economic development director. "Heartside is a perfect example with Avenue for the Arts and ArtPrize. LINC Gallery at 341 Hall will bring people to Madison Square Neighborhood that wouldn't normally come here. They'll be checking out the restaurants and the neighborhood, and will help generate some income for the artists. Because people will start coming to this art gallery, we might be able to open up another restaurant or even another art gallery, which in turn creates more jobs."
 
The one-story building was gutted and rebuilt with new HVAC, lighting, earth tone-colored floors, a black ceiling, and curved walls to add visual interest for art displays. Glass garage doors open the front of the building to the street and the storefront windows overlook the busy neighborhood.
 
Gonzalez says the gallery will not have art displayed for the ribbon cutting so guests can see the renovation up close and artists can envision how they might use the space. He adds that LINC is working with several area artists to establish a rotating schedule of artists over the coming months.
 
The gallery will also be available as a community gathering space for meetings and events, and will host LINC's Community Spirit Awards immediately following the 11:30 a.m. ribbon cutting.
 
Source: Jorge Gonzalez, LINC Community Revitalization; Tyler Lecceadone, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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New $25M hotel planned for Grand Rapids' Medical Mile clears another hurdle on way to reality

A new $25 million hotel proposed for Grand Rapids' Medical Mile has received approval from the City of Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, clearing another hurdle for the project.

Third Coast Development Partners owners Dave Levitt and Brad Rosely plan to erect the 140-plus-room hotel in what is now a surface parking lot adjacent to the Women's Health Center of West Michigan, part of the 16-acre Mid Towne Village (500 block, Michigan St.) developed by Third Coast Development Partners. The five-story hotel will sit atop a two-story parking structure that will be available for public use.

The hotel brand has not been determined yet, Rosely says.

The entire project includes a separate three-story, $6 million office building on the property. The proposed hotel and office building will bring the investment on the entire land parcel to some $70 million since development began in 2004.

"Our (hotel) clientele is not downtown convention traffic, but hospital users, like patients getting outpatient procedures or relatives coming into town to see new babies," Rosely says. "There will be a shuttle service to the hospitals, and will have a real nice feel to it like at Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic."

El Barrio Mexican Grill and The Omelette Shoppe, are both part of the mixed-use complex, while Urban Mill Café and Mr. Pizza are each just a short walk. Both Levitt and Rosely say the restaurants will benefit from the increased density created by the office building and the hotel.

Next steps are for the state to approve the brownfield tax credits, which should happen about August 1, with the hotel groundbreaking a few weeks after that. The hotel construction will take about a year. The office building construction will wrap up in early 2015.

Source: Dave Levitt and Brad Rosely, Third Coast Development Partners
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Pets get top dog treatment at new cat and dog grooming salon in Grand Rapids' Uptown

A new pet grooming salon in Grand Rapids gives its clients top dog treatment, even if they're not dogs.

Cats Vs Dogs Pet Grooming Salon and Boutique
opened in April at 929 E. Fulton St., a century-old building that's been beautifully preserved and updated. Original hardwood floors and period chandeliers create just the right setting for the care and grooming of dogs and cats, says owner and certified groomer Jennifer Lotterman.

Lotterman opened the storefront after 20 years of providing feline and canine grooming services at retail stores and in her home. During that time, she was also a grooming instructor for seven years.

Lotterman says she's the only Michigan groomer certified through the National Cat Groomers Institute of America. She's also certified through the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists and has special training as a dermatox specialist to detect and identify skin and coat diseases.

"Opening the store is something I've always wanted to do," Lotterman says. "I taught pet grooming at Paragon School of Pet Grooming, and my students would talk about opening a salon. So I went to GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women) and took one of their business classes to get some information for my students. The more I got into it, the more I realized I want to do this for myself."

Cats Vs Dogs offers a number of services, including pet bathing – Lotterman says cats aren't as hard to bathe as people think – with shampoos suited for the pet's particular skin condition, a skin conditioning treatment, nail trim, ear cleaning, expression of anal glands, and haircuts that might include hand scissoring and/or hand stripping.

Lotterman also offers color enhancing for pets' coats. Her own pooch, Stiles, a standard-bred white poodle, is often an eye-catching shade of blue. Color-enhanced pets could be part of a human fashion show Lotterman hopes to have this summer in the East Fulton business district.

Hours: Tues. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Source: Jennifer Lotterman, Cats Vs Dogs Pet Grooming Salon and Boutique
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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