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Proposed Grand Rapids skate park ramps up for development in Clemente Park

Deborah Johnson Wood

The development of a skate park in Grand Rapids got the signal to start rolling when the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the proposal at Tuesday's commission meeting. A committee of the Sixth Street Bridge Community Coalition worked for several months with the city's Parks & Recreation department to develop the proposed Clemente Skate Park in an underused area of Clemente Park, 546 Rumsey SW.

"The part of the park near B Street has a tennis court that hasn't been used for probably 10 years," says Chris Gray, committee chair of the coalition. "It's close enough to downtown and it's just unused, with lots of trees."

Gray is quick to point out that the north portion of Clemente Park will remain as is, with actively used soccer fields. He also notes that skate park plans are in the beginning stages and the planning group still needs to raise some $350,000 for the project.

Preliminary plans are to incorporate different styles of skate parks by connecting paved paths that stretch over rolling, shaded terrain to pods of activity, such as ramps and a concrete bowl.

"One of the big parts of our plan is to keep the area as is by not removing any of the living trees," he says. "We want to keep it really wooded to keep it a unique park, and we want it to be a park that people want to go to for other things like biking and walking."

Gray, a photographer and artist, designs apparel for Premier Skateboarding, a supporter of his work with the skate park. He hopes to feature urban art in the park. Another aspect could include providing a small garden space for nearby Southwest Community Campus school. Construction on the park could begin in early 2011.

A June 20 kickoff celebration at Rosa Parks Circle will include skateboard competitions, giveaways and opportunities for participants and spectators to contribute toward the skate park's development fund.

Source: Chris Gray, Clemente Skate Park

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Madison Square Church undertakes $1.3M renovation of former caster shop

Deborah Johnson Wood

Grand Rapids' Madison Square Church is in the throes of renovating a $1.3 million former caster factory into a space where its youth group can give musical and dramatic performances and spend time socializing in a casual, Christian environment.

The building at 1401 Madison Ave. SE, dubbed Madison Place, is just a few doors north of the church. Communications Manager Bill Wiarda says the undertaking is in answer to God's call for the church community to take the gospel to the city.

"Our pastor David Beelen took a sabbatical in 2006 to do some planning, and when he came back, we developed this idea we call Making Room – New Faces, New Places to meet people where they are. There was a lot of redevelopment and revitalization in the neighborhood at that time, so we bought the building."

Volunteers from the congregation worked together to demolish parts of the interior. Wiarda says that once construction is finished, the 8,500-square-foot main level will feature a multipurpose room complete with a stage, sound system, lighting and projection for the youth group; a game room; offices for the youth department; and a kitchen that will supplement the full service kitchen in the church, when needed.

A food pantry, currently housed at Restorers, Inc., 1413 Madison Ave. SE, will have a dedicated space with greater food storage capacity, freezers and refrigerators and direct access from outside.

One surprising feature is a planned woodworking shop for the church's Cadets group of fourth through sixth grade boys.

"They meet once a week to do woodworking projects," Wiarda says. "Right now they meet in the church office basement, which is really cramped. The new space will have equipment and improved ventilation."

Source: Bill Wiarda, Madison Square Church

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

CityFlats Hotel in Holland eyes downtown Grand Rapids for next boutique hotel venture

Deborah Johnson Wood

The owner of the CityFlats Hotel in Holland plans to transform the former Fox Jewelers building in downtown Grand Rapids into a new 28-room boutique hotel. The announcement last week moves owner Charter House Innovations a step closer to developing the hotel model into a national franchise.

"We still have ambitions for CityFlats to be a franchise, and we're using the Grand Rapids location to show that it can be franchised all over the country," says Sarah Lilly, marketing coordinator.

The 16,000-square-foot building at 83 Monroe Center was on the drawing board as Fox Lofts residential condominiums after Fox Jewelers moved out, but the condominiums idea never took off. Situated in the heart of Grand Rapids' downtown, it has been vacant for several years.

Each room of the hotel will offer a design and color scheme different from the other rooms. Each of Charter House's 13 designers will create a unique design for the guest rooms and the hotel's public areas.

"There have been discussions about finding a creative way to keep the original marquee, but nothing has been determined yet," says Lilly of Fox's signature signage above the main entry.

Charter House's Holland facility will design and manufacture the products used in the hotel's interior, Lilly says. The hotel will be LEED certified, similar to the Gold LEED certified CityFlats Hotel.

"We feel we're offering a unique product with it being a boutique hotel and being LEED certified," she says. "The customer gets a more personalized experience because of the smaller and unique design. A lot of the customers in Holland stay in a different room each time to experience the different designers."

The Grand Rapids location will include a lounge, coffee bar, a fitness center and meeting rooms.

Plans are in the early stages and Lilly says more details will be announced as they become available.

"We're really excited about being a part of downtown Grand Rapids," Lilly says. "We're looking forward to really great things happening."

Source: Sarah Lilly, CityFlats Hotel

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Grand Rapids' Goodrich Apartments breaks ground on $3.1 million makeover

Deborah Johnson Wood

Seventeen years ago Grand Rapids-based Dwelling Place, Inc. purchased and renovated The Goodrich Apartments – 14 affordable apartments on S. Division Ave. just south of the Avenue for the Arts. A $3.1 million project to update the units and buildings broke ground this week.

The apartments are in two circa 1890 structures constructed side by side at 333 and 339 South Division Ave. – the DelaMater Building and the Schuchardt Building, respectively.

"This is not a gut rehab, but the apartments will have new appliances, new cupboards and hardwood floors throughout," says Jarrett DeWyse, director of housing development for Dwelling Place. "The buildings are long and narrow and some of the apartments are kind of dark. We're reconfiguring those apartments to have lower interior walls so natural light from the windows can travel deeper into those apartments."

The apartments will get complete overhauls, including new bathrooms and some skylights. The shared spaces, such as hallways and stairwells, will be repainted and carpeted.

The residents in the five occupied apartments at 339 S. Division agreed to a temporary "apartment swap" to the building next door. Once their apartments are renovated, the residents will move back in and work will begin on 333 S. Division.

Dwelling Place waited for months for approval of historic preservation tax credits from the state of Michigan and the federal government. DeWyse says the approvals came through recently for nearly $2 million in tax credits. Dwelling Place has to prove that it fulfilled its promise to keep certain renovations historically accurate once the project is completed at the end of the year.

"We can't remove the wood staircases, we have to replace windows with windows of similar construction, and we'll restore all the exterior cornices and window ledges," DeWyse says.

The project also received $700,000 from the city of Grand Rapids, which Dwelling Place will repay after a 15-year compliance period, provided there is enough cash flow.

Source: Jarrett DeWyse, Dwelling Place, Inc.

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Conduit Studios loves Heartside in Grand Rapids; moves to larger studio space close to "home"

Deborah Johnson Wood

John O'Neill and Tim Carpenter love having the heart of their graphic design studio in Heartside. So when Conduit Studios outgrew its 700 square feet at 7 Ionia SW, the duo found triple the space that fits the company image and inspires creativity right in the same building.

"When we first moved into the smaller space, it was just Tim and me, so that gave us room to collaborate, but we still had space to get away from each other and focus on work," says O'Neill. "Then we added two employees, and if you leaned back in chair you were touching someone else."

O'Neill says they wanted a space that promoted more collaboration and less hierarchy; a floor plan that put the two owners squarely in the mix with employees, yet allows everyone room to work privately.

"There should be a blur between what is a residential feel and what is an office feel, and we're really trying to achieve that," O'Neill says. "Our interior designer Kathryn Chaplow added a standing-height bar with bar stools which is perfect for when you're critiquing something really quick, and it serves as a kitchen metaphor, a natural gathering space."

The studio's design has clients walk through the work area to reach the conference room in the back – a strategic plan that helps clients engage with the designers.

O'Neill and Carpenter collect the works of local artists and wanted to bring those pieces into the work environment for inspiration. An art wall that's nearly floor-to-ceiling allows display of a disparate variety of paintings, photography and other art media.

"It's filled with art that inspires us, it's not meant to be a portfolio of our own work," says O'Neill. "When we're surrounded by things that inspire us we can use that in our work and challenge ourselves by our surroundings."

Source: John O'Neill, Conduit Studios

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Conduit Studios under construction -Courtesy Photo

Mood board created by designer Kathryn Chaplow, LLC

Grand Rapids artist opens studio gallery in historic warehouse building

Deborah Johnson Wood

Grand Rapids artist Nathan Goddard says the daylight streaming through the east windows of his new studio space casts is just right for working with the earth-friendly materials he creates for his paintings.

The studio and gallery space, nrg studio, occupies some 1,300 square feet of a former furniture factory at 445 Century Ave. SW. Goddard moved his work there in January because his home studio was no longer big enough to accommodate the larger pieces he wanted to create.

"This is a space where I could work large and could have (art) workshops," Goddard says. He also needed more room for mixing his own materials for what he calls his Earth Paintings.

"I make my own clay slips using clay earth I gather from places like the Grand River, West Virginia and Utah," he says. "I create my own pigment using soy resin as my binder, not using anything oil based. West Virginia and Utah clays have unique colors I haven't found elsewhere."

Those colors include a particular red from Utah and a bright yellow-gold from West Virginia. The Grand River yields "dark brown, almost black, clay that fires to orange," Goddard says.

Goddard's focus is on painting and landscapes, but he also does graphics design and 3-D work, such as the trophy design selected by ArtServe Michigan for the Guvvy Award, the Governor's Awards for Arts and Culture.

In 2009, the Creston Public Art Project selected Goddard's mural Should Be Culture as one of two new public art murals in the Creston business district.

nrg studio's grand opening is Friday, May 21 at 6 p.m. Goddard will showcase his work and work by his wife, Elizabeth Goddard.

Source: Nathan Goddard, nrg studio

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Grand Rapids eclectic home decor shop specializes in artfully redesigned, recycled goods

Deborah Johnson Wood

When Dann Boyles and Chip Minor moved to Nashville, Tenn. a couple of years ago for jobs, they didn't know the housing market crash would mean their home in Michigan wouldn't sell and they'd lose it to foreclosure. But now they're back in Grand Rapids and have launched a new venture of their own – an eclectic home décor shop that specializes in artfully redecorated vintage pieces and used items.

Boyles' success in Nashville with several antique booths he owned and operated at local marketplaces inspired the new store, Rebel Reclaimed, 926 E. Fulton St. When his friend Stephanie Johnson opened the women's consignment shop, Urban Exchange, next door, she encouraged Boyles to bring his redesign talents to a small space in the same building.

"I was an interior designer for 12 years and I am now taking a design eye to reclaiming vintage pieces and redesigning them for the home," Boyles says. "Right now I have a brass chandelier from a thrift store and I took two U.S. maps and decoupaged the entire chandelier with little torn pieces of the maps."

Boyles says he also made an ottoman slipcover out of a Red Wing Linseed Meal burlap bag and throw pillows out of other burlap bags. Artwork pieces include an extensive collection of framed crewel work from the '60s and '70s, a vintage sign from the former Moored & Sons service station in Burnips, and some architectural salvage.

"I watch very closely what's happening in color trends," Boyles says. "I'm very specific about what I show and all the pieces work together to create an overall aesthetic."

Rebel Reclaimed is open Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Source: Dann Boyles, Rebel Reclaimed

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Grand Rapids Bike Park combines grand opening with Mayor's Bike Ride, park cleanup

Deborah Johnson Wood

The rollers and berms on the pump track are in place, ready for the inaugural ride of Mayor George Heartwell during the Grand Rapids Bike Park grand opening Saturday, May 15. The mayor will lead his annual family-fun Mayor's Bike Ride after a morning of park cleanup by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks volunteers.

The pump track, designed with mogul-like rollers, keeps a rider's momentum going without pedaling. But more than that, the track teaches balance and turning skills mountain bikers need to know, says Nate Phelps, president of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association. Phelps approached the city of Grand Rapids four years ago with the idea to create the urban bike park.

The park, 580 Kirtland SW, is the only urban mountain bike park in the Midwest, Phelps says. Its design focuses on tracks and trails that help beginning mountain bikers learn basic skills and challenge experienced riders who want to build up speed and agility.

Two additional tracks, The Bob Loop named after bike park volunteer Bob Zeilman and a beginner loop, are under construction but will have sections done for the grand opening for visitors to experience.

"The Bob Loop is in the Plaster Creek riparian corridor, so we're making use of the unique terrain next to the creek," says Phelps. "The Bob Loop undulates with small climbs, but it's mostly about flow with big wide turns and a great line of sight with nothing hidden."

Future plans include adding challenges like a mock log pile and stair steps, re"cycling" the concrete from the park's former baseball dugouts into raised tracks, and more riding loops.

The grand opening celebration begins at 9 a.m. with a two-hour park cleanup open to anyone who wants to help (bring gloves), followed by a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., the Mayor's Bike Ride and a ride down the Plaster Creek Trail.

Source: Nate Phelps, Grand Rapids Bike Park and Michigan Mountain Biking Association

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Bengtson plastic surgery center moves from temporary offices to Grand Rapids' Women's Health Center

Deborah Johnson Wood

Dr. Brad Bengtson had a dream to build his new Bengtson Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery so it would feel more like a home than a typical medical office. And with a fireplace, a reading nook and custom millwork, he might be on the right track.

The Bengtson Center will move from temporary offices in the Grand Valley Surgical Center near Leffingwell and Leonard streets NE to 7,000 square feet in the Women's Health Center of West Michigan, 555 Midtowne St. NE.

"You'll be met by a concierge and directed to wherever you need to be for plastic surgery, Botox fillers, skincare laser surgeries and other services," Bengtson says. "I want the experience to be very personal, very cozy, almost like being in someone's home."

Besides offering walk-in services, such as skin care evaluations, laser hair removal and Botox procedures, the center will offer an array of plastic surgery services, including breast reconstruction surgery.

The space will have three esthetician rooms, four exam consultation rooms, three Botox injection rooms, and a photo imaging room with 3-D technology that will simulate how patients might look after plastic surgery or skin care treatments.

A board room features direct audio/visual connections to operating rooms in the building; surgeons from around the world will be able to observe surgeries from the board room and interact with the surgeons in real time.

"We also have a V.I.P. entrance for post operative patients or for men who are uncomfortable coming in," says Dr. Bengtson. "They can come right in the back door where there's a lounge. They won't have to walk through the main lobby."

Craig Architects created the architectural design. Insignia Homes and Pinnacle Construction handled construction. Kathryn Chaplow LLC is the interior designer.

The Bengtson Center will be open by June 1.

Source: Dr. Brad Bengtson, The Bengtson Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery; Kathryn Chaplow, Kathryn Chaplow LLC

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Eden Environments moves to renovated warehouse on Grand Rapids' south side

Deborah Johnson Wood

Denise Hopkins says her decision to relocate Eden Environments to a rehabbed warehouse exemplifies the eco-friendly mindset that she and her business are all about.

Eden Environments is a sustainable design center that specializes in providing environmentally viable building materials, interior finishes and furnishings for commercial and residential spaces, as well as architectural, interior and landscape design services.

Hopkins launched the business some 18 months ago in a strip mall on 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, but recently relocated to a second-floor suite in a circa 1920s warehouse at 401 Hall St. SW.

"We provide the absolute best sustainable solutions for the built environment," says Hopkins, 47. "We've researched and researched on what is truly sustainable, and we've amassed the best products that are available right now. People can see products online, but can't go anywhere locally to see what they look like."

Hopkins aims to end that problem, that's why she decked out the shop with Knu desks, and furnishings by RC Green and Iannone Design. Display centers show off colorful recycled-glass countertops, dozens of no VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint choices and samples of flooring, including cork in an array of patterns and hues, linoleum, carpeting and wood flooring made in Chelsea, Mich.

Home décor items include decorative papier-mâché lamps fashioned from recycled cement bags, and lamps of recycled tin and metals.

A wall of windows allows customers to view colors and textures in natural daylight.

"This is the kind of space [the store] needs to be in," Hopkins says. "The things we offer have an inherent value that's lasting and we can help people make decisions in terms of design for their living or work spaces. It can be as simple as what paint to use. "

Eden Environments is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment.

Source: Denise Hopkins, Eden Environments

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Hands on Hunger to grow fresh veggies at Blandford Nature Center for those in need

Deborah Johnson Wood

Tim Emmerson has a plan for providing fresh, locally grown vegetables to soup kitchens in Greater Grand Rapids, and he's starting with Matthew's House Ministry where he volunteers as a cook and gives free meals to those in need.

Emmerson says that this year he and volunteers will grow the first Hands On Hunger Garden in two leased garden plots at Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids, using donated plants from Koetsier's Greenhouse and William Bos Greenhouse & Farm.

"I purchase food from Feeding America West Michigan to make meals for the homeless, but I spend more money out of pocket to buy veggies than to buy meat," says Emmerson, 26. "Fresh vegetables are the most important for meals, and I thought, let's grow the stuff ourselves."

So Emmerson launched Hands On Hunger whose parent company is the 6th Street Bridge Community Coalition, a nonprofit he founded to help immigrants become naturalized citizens.

"I got connected with a mobile pantry guy, John Arnold, the executive director of Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank," says Emmerson about his inspiration for feeding the hungry. "We had our first mobile food pantry at St. James Church last December and handed out about 5,000 pounds of food."

The plan is to start small with the Hands On Hunger Garden by planting cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, herbs and tomatoes – the most common ingredients for soups and chili.

Beyond that, Emmerson will plant sweet corn in his mother's garden in Jenison and hopes to secure additional garden space donated by area residents. Additionally, he says that if area gardeners will participate in Plant a Row For The Hungry, Hands On Hunger volunteers will get that produce to area soup kitchens where it's needed.

Source: Tim Emmerson, Hands On Hunger

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Kent County plans $26 million jail renovation, replacement of outdated facilities

Deborah Johnson Wood

Kent County plans to demolish and rebuild several outdated buildings on its campus at 701 Ball Ave. using $26 million in millage funds approved in November 2009.

The outdated buildings, constructed in the 1950s through 1970s, have no fire suppression sprinkling systems and contain antiquated heating systems and corroded cast iron plumbing, says Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess.

The maximum security area, one of the areas scheduled for renovation, now consists of "linear supervision" units: cells and cell blocks aligned in a row and patrolled every hour by a guard.

"The current trend is direct or indirect supervision where inmates live in pods," Hess says. "The officer works in the pod and is right in there with the inmates, so there are no gaps in supervision."

A 1992 addition has the pod style environment. Six new pods will be added and double-bunking in the cells will increase the number of beds from 1,215 to about 1,275.

"Adding the pods will limit the movement of inmates, making the facility safer for everyone," Hess says. "Inmates eat in the pods, they have recreation activities there, they see medical personnel there and have school or church there."

The renovation includes a new audio/visual system for visitations. Visitors will no longer have to enter through a metal detector and inmates will remain in their pods. The visits will take place via computer cameras and monitors set up in the visiting area and in the pods.

"This has been successful around the country and we're encouraging attorneys, ministers, counselors, and other professionals to buy the software so they can visit the inmate without having to leave their offices," Hess says.

The project breaks ground May 20. Tower Pinkster is the architect. Owens-Ames-Kimball is construction manager.

Source: Jon Hess, Kent County Sheriff's Office

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Adtegrity readies for move from the burbs to new building in Heartside

Deborah Johnson Wood

Adtegrity, an online advertising network for advertisers and web site publishers, will be moving its offices and 26 employees from Cascade Township to 38 Commerce in Grand Rapids in a few weeks.

"We're purchasing the whole second floor of 38," says Scott Brew, Adtegrity's president and CEO. "Things are proceeding very rapidly and we're in that last stretch where we're really excited and time seems to slow down."

38, a mixed-use development by Locus Development, offers apartments, residential condominiums, commercial units and an attached parking ramp. The building is under construction on the corner of Commerce and Weston.

With 20-foot-high ceilings, the Adtegrity space has enough room for a mezzanine level with private offices and a conference room with glass walls that overlooks the area below. The main level of the space will have traditional workstations, but will be open to the high ceiling.

A glass curtain wall overlooks Weston Street SW and part of the Heartside business district to the north and east.

"The curtain wall has a curved corner at Commerce, and that's part of our social area," Brew says. "When you're in it, it feels like you're hanging over the corner of Commerce and Weston."

The social area includes a ping pong table, equipment to play X-Box and Wii, and there's an adjacent kitchen.

The buildout will be LEED certified.

"I've watched forward-thinking people like John Green, Andy Winkel (Locus Development) and Sam Cummings (CWD Real Estate Investment) do really cool stuff downtown and I wanted to be part of it," Brew says. "I believe it's necessary to have a vibrant urban core, and I need to put my money where my mouth is."

Source: Scott Brew, Adtegrity

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

The $34 million Gallery Apartments poised for debut at Grand Rapids Parade of Downtown Living

Deborah Johnson Wood

After years of anticipation and arm wrestling for financial banking, The Gallery Apartments in downtown Grand Rapids will debut in June at the 6th Annual Parade of Downtown Living.

Fifty-six luxury apartments occupy floors 6 through 12 of The Gallery on Fulton, 2 West Fulton St. Developers hope to have the entire 12th floor ready by tour time, says Nick Koster, vice president of operations for CWD Real Estate Investment, one of the developer partners.

"We will have two model units ready on the 12th floor, but we're hoping that the whole floor will be complete with several apartments staged," Koster says.

The apartments sit atop the future home of the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA) which will occupy 40,000 square feet on levels one through five. The building fronts along S. Division Avenue, where another 2,700 square feet of retail space is still available.

Studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments make up the mix of residences. The units on the north side of the building have floor-to-ceiling windows; all of the sixth floor units share a band of glass that wraps the building, giving each of those apartments nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. The building will be LEED certified.

"From a quality standpoint, the apartments are much more like The Fitzgerald than anything we've done," Koster says. "But the styling is very contemporary and a different look than [developments] we've done in the past. All of the apartments have stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and the master baths have tile showers with glass doors."

There will also be a fitness room, laundry facilities in each apartment, and a rooftop deck for all residents, featuring a partially enclosed area with a concrete bar and flat screen television.

Leases range from $750 to $2,500 a month.

The Parade of Downtown Living runs from June 11-13.

Source: Nick Koster, CWD Real Estate Investment; 2010 Grand Rapids Parade of Downtown Living Facebook page

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Grand Rapids new bar, Viceroy – no secret password, but you'll have to ring the bell if you want in

Deborah Johnson Wood

Viceroy won't have an outdoor sign – just a light above the door like a Prohibition-era speakeasy. But, unlike those covert establishments, you won't need a secret password to get in – if the light's lit, just ring the bell.

Owners Mark and Michele Sellers have designed the new bar at 53 Commerce to emulate bars from the 1930s, with an emphasis on classic handmade cocktails. And ringing the bell for entry is a strategic measure.

"The reason is because the classic cocktails are time and labor intensive," says Mark Sellers. "It will take three minutes to make some drinks because we'll have to chop a block of ice, and layer the ingredients in the right order. Egg whites will have to be shaken up to a foam for the tops of some drinks. If we had so many customers it was standing room only, we'd never be able to keep up. That manner of entry will limit the number of people we let in at one time."

"We'll make all of our own infusions," says General Manager Garry Boyd. "If a drink requires blackberry brandy, we'll infuse the brandy with blackberries. And we'll have homemade tonic, which has flavor. I think that once people have a gin and tonic or vodka tonic made with it, they won't go anywhere else."

Boyd says Viceroy will offer a simple but enjoyable beer and wine list, but "flips, rickys, fizzes and smashes" will be king.

Hungry patrons will have an assortment of appetizers to choose from, with specialties like Scotch eggs, homemade port wine cheese, spicy nuts, a trio of bruschettas, and zucchini and eggplant chips with Greek scordelia sauce.

Sellers expects the bar to open a few weeks after Stella's Lounge May 1 opening.

Source: Mark Sellers and Garry Boyd, Viceroy

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.
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