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Proposed $1.5 million downtown Grand Rapids concert venue clears first major hurdles

Deborah Johnson Wood

A new concert venue complex proposed for downtown Grand Rapids has received the stamp of approval from Grand Rapids' Planning Commission and Downtown Development Authority.

A couple more hurdles to clear and Pyramid Scheme at 68 Commerce Ave. SW and a restaurant, brewery and pub in the adjoining 62 Commerce can begin construction for a projected 2011 opening.

Pyramid Scheme is a partnership between brother-sister duo Jeff and Tami VandenBerg, owners of The Meanwhile bar, and HopCat owner Mark Sellers. They plan to develop 68 Commerce into a 400-person capacity concert venue and a neighborhood bar. The DDA awarded a $50,000 Building Reuse Incentives Program grant earlier this month toward the redevelopment of the building and also approved liquor licenses for both buildings.

Mark Sellers is the sole developer of the adjoining building, 62 Commerce. He proposes development of Beatnik Brewing, which includes a restaurant, banquet facility, and, according to the brewery's Facebook page, a bowling alley. A rooftop deck atop the concert hall next door at 68 would be accessed via a door from the second level of 62.

The planning commission approved the redevelopment of both buildings this week.

Sellers said in an email that he still needs to procure funding for 62 Commerce and get approval for the rooftop deck from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).

The HPC has approved the concert venue's new fašade, says Tami VandenBerg.

VandenBerg says the purchase and development of the concert venue will run about $1.5 million.

"This is something we (Jeff and Tami) wanted to do even before we opened The Meanwhile," she says. "We love music and have gone to shows in Detroit and Chicago and have always wanted to bring shows and bands here. We're doing this to bring more jobs and activity downtown, and to make the city a better place to be so that people stick around."

Lott3Metz is the architect for the project.

Source: Tami and Jeff VandenBerg, Pyramid Scheme; Mark Sellers, HopCat

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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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