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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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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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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

Grand Rapids' historic Harris Building makeover makes room for The Local Epicurean

The 110-year-old Harris Building in the historic Heartside Business District is built atop an underground river that has made its presence known at times throughout the building's history. The challenges presented by groundwater rising up from below and years of rainwater pouring in through a dilapidated roof above didn't deter the renovation efforts.

The ground floor of the Harris Building (111 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids) will soon be the new home of The Local Epicurean, a local organic pasta company that will have a retail shop, restaurant space, and a teaching kitchen. The renovation will be completed by late spring, and the building will be a 2013 ArtPrize venue.

Wolverine Building Group's Project Manager Dulane Coval says the underground river has not eroded the foundation of the building due to the foresight of the builders a century ago.

"When they built this building, they knew about the river, so the footings are really deep," Coval says. "We haven't even found how deep they are. We had groundwater two feet below the lower-level floor and we had to put the elevator shaft in at six feet below, but we never found the bottom of the foundations. I suspect they're great big old limestone, but I don't know."

Building owner Bob Dykstra of Harris Lofts has floated a number of ideas about what to do with the building, including development of a co-working office space. To-date, no additional plans for the upper floors have been announced.
In addition to conquering the water issues, the building, which has been empty for three to five years, now has an open stairway to the lower level, new HVAC, new roof, and it's first-ever fire protection system.

"The whole area is in a state of transition right now...The building next door (101 South Division) was renovated about three years ago, and there's new housing going in down the street on the corner of Cherry Street," Coval says. 

Wolverine Building Group has headed up construction of both of those projects, plus the development of housing at Division Park Avenue (209 S. Division Ave.) and Serrano Lofts (17 Williams St.).

Source: Dulane Coval, Wolverine Building Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Longtime Holland meat market embraces change -- a new home in Grand Rapids' Downtown Market

Montello Meat Market has been a Holland staple since the '50s, first as Montello Park IGA in one location, a move to another part of town in the '80s (746 Michigan Ave.), and a name change. And, holding true to its history of change amid the constancy of supplying top-notch meats to customers, the market is ready for a new pasture: the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids.

The Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave. SW) hopes to be the region's go-to center for everything food, from fresh veggies at the outdoor farmers market to baked goods, coffee, site-made ice creams, and now, a local butchery. But Montello Meat Market owners Tony and Tina Larson are not pulling out of their beloved Holland community entirely.

"We're creating Montello Meat Locker, a meat market on wheels, instead of having the (Holland) store," says Tina Larson. "People still call in their orders; they want a tenderloin roast for Friday night, or lamb chops for a family dinner. We'll continue to offer freezer bundles for people who don't have big deep freezers."

The Larsons haven't ironed out all the details on deliveries or pickup locations, but will have those figured out soon, Larson says.

Tony and Tina have owned the meat market for 10 years and each of their four children -- Alex, Sam, Hayley, and Grace -- now young adults, have worked, or still work, at the store. Sam, 25, will be the market's executive butcher; Dad Tony will still make the market's 24 types of brats and sausages from scratch, including Tony's Original Brats, Cherry Pecan, Belgian Country Sausages from a recipe from Belgium, English Breakfast Sausage from a recipe of a butcher shop in England, two chicken sausage recipes, and lamb sausage.

The Downtown Market will become Montello's primary butchery, with 1,900-square-feet of cutting, aging, mixing, and packaging space and a 24-foot-long meat counter. The beef, all from Michigan farms and hormone-free, will be dry-aged on site in coolers with large windows. The store will also sell frozen meats, plus homemade meat loaf, ham loaf, and pea soup.

The Market Hall in the Downtown Market opens in August.

Source: Tina Larson, Montello Meat Market
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids Downtown Market adds some "spice" with popular Saugatuck spice shop

As the list of foodie-oriented vendors in the new Grand Rapids Downtown Market continues to grow -- a bakery, an ice cream maker, a specialty food and wine shop, a coffee shop, a florist, and a butchery -- it seems only natural that a spice shop could bring it all together as a complete one-stop shopping experience.

Spice Merchants
, a corporate and franchise spice seller based in Saugatuck, plans to have hundreds of its bulk spices, proprietary spice blends, and artisanal teas at the market when it opens in August.

"We'll pair well with everything at the market -- vegetables, olive oils, meats, coffee; we'll have fantastic spices and sugars that will go with everything being sold," says owner and founder Lisa Freeman. "Customer can buy large or small quantities. Everything is in a large jar with a label and lid. You tell me what you want, and I measure it into a bag. We sell as little as one-half ounce and more."

Spice Merchants' blends are from Freeman's own recipes, she says, adding that the blends contain no manmade fillers, artificial colors, or chemicals. Freeman says the spices only make one stop between the grower and her stores: the east coast, where the spices are cleaned and processed in a "clean warehouse" that's peanut-free and FDA-approved.

Spice Merchants' top sellers are Smoked Paprika, Hot Smoked Paprika, Black Truffle Sea Salt, Saugatuck Steak Rub (smoked paprika base, Worcestershire, garlic, sea salt, cracked black pepper), Raspberry Chipotle blend, Coffee Barbecue blend, and Tuscan Blend to add to olive oil for dipping bread.

"People can get healthy and fresh products (at the Downtown Market)," Freeman says. "It represents just a great wholesome venue where you can go to get everything. A passion for spices and cooking, that's what got me started. The idea of walking into a store and being able to have all kinds of spices at your fingertips in smaller quantities and more economically appealed to me."
Source: Lisa Freeman, Spice Merchants
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids technology startup offers medical practices unique options to improve bottom line

Digital Limelight Media (DLM) doesn't work with just anybody. The Grand Rapids-based technology startup has been in existence for just over a year, working with medical practices to improve the practice's bottom line by determining which advertising method is attracting new patients, where those new patients are coming from, and how much money those patients spend at the practice.

And while DLM could do this for every medical practice that wants to hire them, they don't. DLM says it offers exclusivity to every client in every city, working with only one plastic surgeon, for example, or one family practitioner.
"We don't report on first-page rankings, we report on revenue," says company founder and CEO Kyle Peacy, 27. "We don't care who ranks on Google first; we care if they made money and where that money's being made. We measure returns on new business only, not business referred by a friend or a doctor, but patients who found the website and contacted the doctor."

DLM (15 Ionia Ave. SW, Suite 320) operates out of a collaborative workspace that generates an overflow of creative energy among the five people in the company. Peacy and business partner Ryan Rogers, 28; Drew Page, 22, business development; Tyler Rix, 22, graphic design; and Jake Moore, 26, account manager.

While the group's camaraderie is lighthearted, as exemplified by Rix's white board graffiti of a grizzly bear wearing a sunglasses and a necktie, and a he-man panda with a Two Hearted Ale in his fist, it's an integral part of the serious business of keeping the energy flowing for clients.

DLM offers the whole media package: website development, search engine optimization, email marketing, reputation management, and social media management.

But lead management is the company's bread and butter; when a lead comes in through the client's website, it generates a call to the medical office, which prompts the office to contact the potential new patient within five minutes of them hitting "Send." That, says Peacy, leads to setting appointments, which leads to getting new patients into a client's office.

Source: Digital Limelight Media
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Opening day of Grand Rapids' Downtown Market welcomed 8,000 - 10,000 visitors

On Saturday, May 4, the new $30 million Downtown Market opened its 80-stall outdoor vendors area for the first time, welcoming an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 visitors, says market spokesperson Brian Burch.

The outdoor vending area is part of the larger Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave. SW), which will offer restaurants, pubs, a coffee shop, bakeries, food boutiques, culinary kitchens, greenhouses, and more when it opens later this year. The market, whose focus is on locally produced foods, will also offer a culinary classroom and other educational endeavors.

Pots and hanging baskets of brightly colored flowers dotted the market where vendors like Visser Farms offered them for sale. Crane Dance Farms offered their grass-fed beef products, other farmers and growers had tables filled with potted herbs and tomato plants ready for planting. Gammy's Artisan Pies offered deep-dish fruit and savory pies.

Simpatico Coffee, which will have a shop in the indoor Market Hall, offered samples of freshly brewed coffee and tea. Go Nuts filled the air with the smell of fresh mini fried cakes prepared hot on the spot for a long line of customers anxious to try them. Breads, focaccia, and fresh vegetables filled other tables, as well as a variety of jams, jellies, salsas, and dried herb mixes from Frozen Creek Farms.

Non-food offerings included cedar birdhouses and garden ornaments.

One of the most colorful vendors was Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market with its eye-catching hot pink John Deere tractor and matching aprons. The Dunnebacks offered samples of donuts, and had several varieties for sale.

The outdoor market will be open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 8 to 1 p.m.; Thursdays, 4 to 7 p.m.

Source: Brian Burch, Downtown Market
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' $30M Downtown Market announces new artisan bakery as latest tenant

Grand Rapids' $30 million Downtown Market announced this week that a high-end artisan bakery is its sixth tenant in the year-round Market Hall.

Field & Fire, owned and operated by Shelby Kibler, a former baker and developer of Ann Arbor's popular Zingerman's, will occupy 1,500 square feet in one of 24 indoor vendor stalls in what will be West Michigan's premier fresh food and culinary venue. The Downtown Market will open this summer at 435 Ionia Ave. SW with vendors in place. Market officials indicate restaurants, pubs, a cooking school, a greenhouse, an outdoor farmers market, and much more will follow.

Kibler plans to offer market visitors organic breads, croissants, gougere made with cheese and black pepper, flatbreads, pizzas, and savory baked goods made onsite daily in wood-fired ovens. All items will be prepared from locally sourced ingredients.

Kibler, a Stanton, Mich. native, lives in Ann Arbor and will relocate his family to Grand Rapids to be close to the bakery.

"I've thought for years that Grand Rapids was a market that was underserved for the high quality artisan breads," Kibler says. "Grand Rapids has been on my radar for a while, and I thought that before (an artisan bakery) gets built, I'd better do it myself. I'm going to have an audience at the Downtown Market to come and see my bakery, which is sometimes what makes it hard for businesses to succeed -- how do I draw people to my business?"

Field & Fire will join several other shops announced by the market previously: Simpatico Coffee, Old World Olive Press, Crescent Floral & Gifts, Dorothy and Tony's Gourmet Kettle Corn, and Love's Ice Cream.

Source: Downtown Market News Release
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Art of the Table to open food, wine, and beer tasting boutique in Grand Rapids' Downtown Market

If two Grand Rapids entrepreneurs get the green light from the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for a liquor license, then a new food, beer, and wine tasting venue will be the latest shop to stake its claim at Grand Rapids' $30 million Downtown Market.

Amy Ruis, owner of Art of the Table (606 Wealthy St. SE), and Kate Leeder, the store's cheesemonger for the past five years, plan to open Aperitivo in the Downtown Market's 24-vendor Market Hall. The women have applied to the DDA for a liquor license that will allow them to offer beers and wines for onsite consumption in the new 1,200-square-foot shop that will feature a tasting bar.

Aperitivo, Spanish for "appetizer," describes the concept for the small plates that Ruis says will be on the menu. Customers will be able to order samples of the items available for purchase in the store: an array of cheeses, and gourmet taste treats to go with the cheeses, such as, salamis, patés, prosciutto, nuts, honeys, jams, crostini, olives, and the like.

Customers will be able to sit at one of 15 seats at the bar inside the store, or on the outdoor terrace, and taste plates of delectable goodies along with a beer or glass of wine.

"We'll be in the Market Hall, right at the front entrance in a primo space," Ruis says. "The concept is that it's primarily a cheese shop, but we'll also have some retail gourmet foods, beers, and wines to pick up and take home. We will also offer a grilled cheese of the day for those who want a light lunch. It will be a simplified menu focused on tasting the products we sell."

The market opens this summer and will feature an outdoor farmers market, a certified kitchen, a greenhouse, dining, coffee shops, bakeries, and more.

Source: Amy Ruis, Aperitivo
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge to brew up more than just coffee in growing Commerce Ave. district

The owners of the former Ada Coffee Bar hope to bring more than just good, hot brews to the growing business district on southwest Commerce Avenue. Kevin Wallace and Steve Wiltjer plan to open Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge on April 26 as a warm and welcoming gathering spot for friends, business meetings, and the lone student pursuing studies.

Wiltjer, 29, says the duo came up with the "lantern" name as "something that would communicate the kind of space and ambience we want to create…the old street lantern represents warmth and safety and welcoming that people gather around."

To that end, Wiltjer and Wallace are busy transforming the 1,450-square-foot space in the Grand Central Lofts building (100 Commerce Ave. SW) into a multi-level coffee house with specialty drinks, casual seating areas for larger and smaller groups, and a small stage for music or the spoken word. The entry level on the corner of Commerce SW and Oakes St. SW opens to a walkout level a few steps below. Above the shop are 31 new market-rate apartments.

"We've been looking for something downtown for a quite a while," Wiltjer says. "I saw an article on this building in Rapid Growth. I met with the landlord, fell in love with the building, and we moved forward."

The décor, designed by Wiltjer's wife, Rachel Bush, will have an "old library feel with darker colors, comfortable and cozy, but still clean and fresh," he says.

The shop will serve coffee from Populace Coffee, a specialty roaster in Bay City, Mich., as well as a variety of teas, chai, and other non-coffee drinks. And while Wiltjer guarantees the drinks to be great, the focus is on an atmosphere where people will want to spend time. The shop will offer a table reservation service for casual gatherings and business meetings.

The April 26 grand opening (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) will double as a fundraiser for the YWCA.

Source: Steve Wiltjer, Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' Herkimer Hotel renovation, new Commerce Ave. buildings bring $29M affordable housing

Renovation of Grand Rapids' historic Herkimer Hotel building on S. Division Avenue and construction of two adjacent buildings on Commerce Avenue SW will bring 122 new affordable apartments, retail live/work residences, and office space to the city's south side.

The $29 million project is the last piece in revitalizing an entire city block owned by Dwelling Place, Inc. Construction has begun to convert the Herkimer Apartments (323 S. Division Ave.) from 122 mostly studio units to 55 larger one-bedroom apartments.

Construction of two new four-story buildings directly west on Commerce Ave. SW, between Goodrich and Bartlett streets, adds another 67 one-bedroom apartments to the mix. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services will occupy 14,000 square feet on the first level to provide support services to the apartment residents and others in the area.

An elevated, enclosed walkway connects the Herkimer and Commerce Avenue buildings.

A new 13,550-square-foot infill addition to the north of the Herkimer building will replace a small surface parking lot and connect the Herkimer building to the existing Calumet Flats, also owned by Dwelling Place. The renovation includes construction of seven live/work apartments along S. Division Avenue.

"We are part of Housing First through the continuum of care, trying to find a way to not put people in shelters, but in apartments, and wrap the services they need around them so they can remain housed," says Director of Housing Development, Sr. Jarrett DeWyse, O.P.  "All 122 units are supportive housing, which means we give residents as much independence as they need and as much support as they need in order to remain housed. Forty-two of the units will be part of the Housing First program."

The new Herkimer Apartments will be completed by August 2013. The rest of the project will be complete by late fall.

Architectural design: Brian Winkelmann of DTS Winkelmann
Construction manager: Rockford Construction

Source: Jarrett DeWyse, Dwelling Place, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Three more historic buildings in Grand Rapids' downtown targeted for renovations, upgrades

Remodels of three historic structures in downtown Grand Rapids will begin this spring, bringing the buildings up to modern office standards in the hope of making them attractive to potential tenants.

The Ledyard Building (125 Ottawa NW), the Trade Center Building (50 Louis St. NW), and The Michigan Trust Building (40 Pearl NW), are owned by CWD Real Estate Investment and will undergo significant upgrades this spring and summer, says CWD Managing Partner Scott Wierda.

The buildings, built between 1874 and 1896, have had few upgrades in the past 20 or so years and are overdue, Wierda says.

"We believe in the longterm future of downtown Grand Rapids and that it's very, very important to have the urban core stable," Wierda says. "For a long time, the downtown development has been based on philanthropy, and while those have been great gifts to all of us, we feel that the future needs to be based on development, not dependent on philanthropy. It's up to us to continue what's already been started. We've seen that with a lot of these buildings, there wasn't significant reinvestment in the building."

The Ledyard Building, which was the first location of the Grand Rapids Public Library, will get an atrium and upgrades to the unleased office and retail spaces.

The six-story Trade Center was constructed as the Masonic Temple and is the current home of Start Garden. A major portion of the remodel will include a new lobby, elevators, and restrooms, plus upgrades to the 60 percent of the building's office spaces not currently occupied. CWD plans to move its own headquarters there after the renovation.

The Michigan Trust Building is the site of former President Gerald R. Ford's first law office from 1941-1943. The second floor was vacated recently and features high ceilings, ornamental details, and arched windows, all of which will be preserved. Renovations include better lighting, upgrades to common areas and the main lobby, and repairs to windows and the sandstone façade.

Source: Scott Wierda, CWD Real Estate Investment
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Netvantage Marketing touts Grand Rapids as a city where technology businesses can thrive

A year after opening its Grand Rapids office, East Lansing-based Netvantage Marketing has leased additional office space and brought on two full-time employees in Grand Rapids Tech Hub, an office community created specifically for technology and design entrepreneurs above San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 W. Fulton St.).  

Netvantage Marketing is not a web development company, but works with individual clients and outside web developers to market websites through search engines, using search engine optimization (SEO). Adam Henige, a co-owner with Joe Ford, says Netvantage Marketing provides the expertise to get websites higher rankings in Google searches, making them easier for new and existing customers to find.

"We've just come off our best January ever in the history of the company (founded 2008)," Henige says. "A lot of business development meetings are coming up because a lot of web developers need our expertise added to theirs, and we need their web development added to our expertise. It's the number one reason we've had a very, very busy 2013 so far."

The Grand Rapids location began with just one 200-square-foot office in the Grand Rapids Tech Hub, Henige says, but has doubled in size to accommodate two employees who relocated from East Lansing. Although the company operates from minimal square footage, Henige says the Tech Hub includes plenty of conference room and space to meet with clients when needed, and an energetic atmosphere.

"This is an exciting spot to be in," Henige says, "because everyone up here is a young company and very techie."

Source: Adam Henige, Netvantage Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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