MoDiv cuts ribbon, celebrates new idea to bring a host of fresh retail to Grand Rapids

In celebration of nearly filling 8,000 square feet of prime downtown Grand Rapids real estate with new and established retail businesses, the shop owners and developers of Shops @ Monroe Center and Division, or MoDiv, cut a block-long ribbon Monday night to mark the official opening of the retail incubator and the grand opening of the Haworth Interphase Showroom.
Nine shops divided by glass partitions enliven the formerly vacant space in the Peck Building and have brought a host of retail shopping and custom design studios downtown, a feat long championed by many as being a necessary component of keeping downtown alive.

"It really was an effort to try to figure out how to take away obstacles for retailers to come downtown," says Kurt Hassberger, COO of Rockford Construction, a partner in the project. "There are a lot of people with energy and good ideas that don't necessarily have a lot of capital. The big thing is that retailers could move in without a lot of buildout costs and long-term leases."

The aim of the incubator was to bring together fledgling and established retailers in an environment where they could lease small, flexible spaces downtown at affordable rates. The glass partitions allow shoppers to see through from one boutique to the next, and promote a sense of space and inclusion.

Many of the shops opened in September; others more recently. One 750-square-foot space remains open, ready for lease.

Current tenants include:
•    Wolverine Company Store
•    Haworth Interphase
•    bokay by Eastern Floral
•    KITCHEN Sinc
•    6.25 Paper Studio
•    Chai Boutique
•    Sofia Bella Couture
•    Vue Design
•    Studio cPrime

"We were never going to complete the Downtown Development Authority's vision of extending the shopping district to N. Division until we could get businesses down there," Hassberger says. "With the hotels on the west end of Monroe Center, now there's a lot of reason to go to the other end of Monroe Center and pull that traffic past a lot of other people."

Source: Kurt Hassberger, Rockford Construction; Michael Zalewski, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor