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Heartside : West Michigan In The News

353 Heartside Articles | Page: | Show All

Grand Rapids CAA says $1M in interactive digital art will make city memorable to conventioneers

Some $1 million in interactive digital art may generate such memorable virtual scenes in Grand Rapids' Skywalk that conventioneers and other visitors will come back for more. Could the enclosed Skywalk, a key factor in helping the city attract conventions during winter months and currently a long uninteresting walk, become a showpiece for the city?

According to excerpts from the story:

Imagine playing virtual volleyball on a Grand Haven beach in the enclosed skywalk that runs from the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel to the entrance of DeVos Place. Or imagine watching your shadow build a snowman on a prominent site in Grand Rapids while standing in that same skywalk. Then imagine that the Convention and Arena Authority can find the revenue to turn these and other virtual experiences into reality.

MacKeigan “I think we’re looking at $1 million for three sections,” said Rich MacKeigan, CAA executive director. Members of the CAA Operations Committee participated last week in a demonstration of the multi-sensory experiences nodes they are considering adding to portions of the skywalk to give visitors to the convention center a memorable impression of the city.
“If they’re coming in for a convention, we want them to come back. Or if they’re coming in for a (site) visit, we want them to come back,” said MacKeigan.

Read the complete story here.


WMCAT graduates first students, state-of-the-art facility promotes excellence

One class of at-risk Grand Rapids Public School students celebrated a special victory this week when they graduated from high school with much more than a basic education. Special training in a variety of art mediums kept them in school working toward diplomas and contributes to one school's 85 percent graduation rate.

According to excerpts from the story:

GRAND RAPIDS -- Shakur Sanders puts his creativity to the test every week in his digital arts class at the West Michigan Center of Arts & Technology, an after-school and summer school program aimed at students from four public high schools in Grand Rapids. Sanders loves basketball, and he also enjoys a scary movie. So when he was given an assignment to design a digital piece of art for a class project, he placed himself on a mountain with a basketball hoop -- with several imposing monsters between him and the bucket.

"It's going to be scary going to the basket," said Sanders, a freshman shooting guard on the Ottawa Hills High School basketball team, "but since I want to score so bad, I have to go. "I always like to try something new," said Sanders, who has attended WMCAT since November. "I found out it was fun, so I stayed." WMCAT is in its fourth year of targeting students who are statistically at risk of quitting school.

Read the complete story here.


Grand Rapids goes Hollywood when cameras roll for city's latest feature film shoot

Grand Rapids was once again the ideal setting for a feature film drawing Hollywood actors, directors and crew to the city. Since passage of the Michigan film incentive tax incentives package, West Michigan has been the recipient of film industry spending and the creation of film crew jobs.

According to excerpts from the story:

GRAND RAPIDS -- With the Sixth Street Bridge as a backdrop in the night, the bright lights of Hollywood once again came shining on Grand Rapids -- with an East Grand Rapids native behind the camera and a superstar rapper in front of it. Cameras were rolling for the movie "Caught in the Crossfire," a film starring rapper 50 Cent and directed and written by Brian Miller, originally of East Grand Rapids.

With the set overlooking the Grand River, Miller shot several dialogue scenes featuring 50 Cent, who has a supporting role as an informant, and Adam Rodriguez ("CSI: Miami") and Chris Klein ("American Pie"). Onlookers stood by the riverside with cameras, hoping to catch a glimpse of the talent.

Read the complete story here.


Grand Rapids' downtown business district attracts 14 new retail shops

Grand Rapids' Downtown Development Authority reports that 14 new businesses have set up shop in the city's downtown in the last eight months. A strategy to market the downtown to even more businesses, citing its 30,000 workers and college students as potential customers, is underway.

According to excerpts from the story:

Despite the dismal economy that has been threatening the city for the past 18 months, downtown Grand Rapids seems to be showing slow, steady growth in its retail sector. Anne Marie Bessette, a development specialist with the Downtown Development Authority, recently filed a report that showed 14 new businesses have opened in the sector since September, while seven have closed or moved.

"To have a net growth of seven downtown businesses is great," said Mayor George Heartwell, especially in light of the current economic conditions.

Of the 14 that have opened, six are located on South Division Avenue. Four more have leased storefronts on Monroe Center, downtown's main street. Three of the new businesses replaced ones that closed. Three others to new locations downtown. Two moved outside of the district. And one that relocated, Herkner Jewelers, will be replaced this fall with a new Mexican restaurant, Cinco de Mayo.

Read the complete story here.


Regional economic leaders say ArtPrize will boost economic development, tourism

Grand Rapids business and economic leaders say the recently announced ArtPrize competition brings a new edge to economic development in the city. The competition provides marketing ammunition for conventions and positions the region as a competitive market for younger, forward thinking entrepreneurs.

According to excerpts from the story:

GRAND RAPIDS - The inaugural ArtPrize competition gives a boost to regional economic development and tourism marketing efforts, according to area officials. Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc., said she markets a product called Grand Rapids and West Michigan — and ArtPrize improves that product.

"It’s a huge product improvement. It’s a repositioning in the minds of people who may not have thought of us as an arts community," Klohs told MiBiz. "To me, it’s spreading the word to a different audience about who we are, which is a huge plus for a lot of our marketing efforts."

Rick DeVos, founder of Spout.com and grandson of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, announced ArtPrize on April 23. Artists from around the world have been invited to participate in the competition expected to award $400,000 in prize money including $250,000 for first place to the artist receiving the most public votes.

Read the complete story here.


Supporters say Yes vote on May 5 millage could bring 400 jobs

Supporters of a proposed bus rapid transit line for Grand Rapids say passage of an upcoming millage could create hundreds of jobs. The project has about $40 million in federal and state funding, but without the millage the innovative new transit system will stall.

According to excerpts from the story:

EAST GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The West Michigan group Friends of Transit said a Silver Line bus line would bring millions of dollars in development to the area. First though, supporters of the new system have to convince people it's a good idea. Lawmakers are setting aside $40 million in state and federal funds for The Rapid's new Silver Line transit system.

It is a ten mile bus route on Division stretching from Wealthy to 60th Street. It would be the first project of it's kind approved in Michigan, but to secure the project and the money needed, six West Michigan cities have to approve the millage.

Read the complete story here.


Grand Rapids’ downtown development continues to grow, developers invest $5M in Heartside, West Side

Developers plan to bring two vacant buildings back to life for commercial spaces and facilities to attract more filmmakers to the state’s growing film industry.

According to excerpts from the story:

New developments in and near downtown Grand Rapids continue to sprout, and planned expansions and projects are progressing despite a sobering economy. Two new projects expanding the reaches of downtown that are expected to receive brownfield designations include a redevelopment of 502 Second Street NW into two offices and the renovation of 111 S. Division into a building aimed at drawing the film industry to the area.

Grand Rapids Economic Development Director Kara Wood said the city has a strong team that works together to craft development incentives for projects. "We work together to offer the developer the best package to get the project done," Wood told MiBiz.

Read the complete story here.


Economic recovery act allocates $15M to Grand Rapids transit improvements

Substantial federal funding for a bus Rapid transit line, operations expansion and other improvements are slated for Grand Rapids’ growing public transit. In accord with The Rapid’s proven track record on sustainability plans will follow LEED design guidelines.

According to excerpts from the story:

The economic recovery act has been very good to public transit in greater Grand Rapids

“It is truly meaningful for us, and I suspect it is for anybody who has been needing money and was ready to go on projects, whether it be purchasing new buses or expanding a facility like us,” said Peter Varga, executive director of The Rapid. “I hear from a lot of my transit friends across the country that they’re very pleased to be able to move projects forward.”

The bill includes an extra $600,000 for the Silver Line bus rapid transit line under the federal government’s Capital Investments program, an amount that will cover part of the environmental work and some of the preliminary engineering for the bus rapid transit project, Varga said.

Read the complete story here.


Grand Rapids planning commission approves three proposals for downtown bars, restaurants

If successful, three new ventures could create more vibrancy in as many areas of downtown Grand Rapids. The developments could spur more nightlife, an important aspect of attracting and retaining talented young professionals.

According to excerpts from the story:

GRAND RAPIDS -- The Grand Rapids Planning Commission was in a festive mood Thursday, approving three expansion proposals for downtown area bars and restaurants. The biggest project, nicknamed "Bobville," will bring a $5 million addition to the B.O.B. night club.

"Bobville" will bring a five-story festival marketplace to a parking lot next to the B.O.B. The project will bring concerts, food kiosks, private suites, outdoor markets and festivals to the downtown site, said Greg Gilmore, chief executive of the Gilmore Collection.

Read the complete story here.


Sequenom ready to launch prenatal genetic test on national market, could generate 500 jobs

A Grand Rapids molecular research lab is closing in on a nationwide launch date for a prenatal genetic test for Down syndrome. The company says it hopes to expand its research lab in the Grand Rapids area.

According to excerpts from the story:

The Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine is leasing additional office space in downtown Grand Rapids as it prepares to bring its first prenatal genetic test to the national market.

The molecular diagnostics lab, acquired last year by San Diego-based Sequenom Inc. from the Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health, recently leased 5,423 square feet of office space in the Arena Station building on Ottawa Avenue. The company is developing genetic prenatal diagnostic tests to screen for genetic disorders and birth defects.

Read the complete story here.


Grand Rapids city commission moves two brownfield projects forward, reconsiders parking development

Even during these times of economic trials, Grand Rapids development continues to move forward with the approval of two brownfield projects. Revitalizing deteriorated buildings remains high on the list of priorities.

According to excerpts from the story:

Meridian Building Co. LLC, headed by developer Robert Tol, plans to invest about $26 million into a 10-story, 115,000-square-foot building for residential and retail uses with 286 enclosed parking spaces at 20 E. Fulton St. The site is currently a parking lot at the southwest corner of Fulton and Sheldon Avenue.

"This is a really, really important corner — it's the center of our city," First Ward City Commissioner Walt Gutowski said.

Robert and David Israels are the lead investors in Seward LLC. They are investing $10 million into reviving the Enterprise building at 528 Fourth St. NW and the Drueke building at 601 Third St. NW. Both are being renovated for office space — a total of 13,000 square feet in the Enterprise and 24,000 square feet in the Drueke.

Read the complete story here.


Developers say arena spurred Heartside renewal

Developers credit the planning and construction of one key project -- the Van Andel Arena -- with the remarkable revitalization of the Heartside district. Now the downtown is thriving, new residents call it home and more housing is on the way.

According to excerpts from the story:

GRAND RAPIDS - Sam Cummings says one can trace the real beginning of the revitalization of Grand Rapids’ Heartside district to the construction — or, more accurately, the promise of construction – of the Van Andel Arena. Cummings, who heads up CWD Real Estate Investment, remembers how, after plans for the 10,000-seat arena were unveiled in the mid-1990s, residents from outside the district began showing up in the Heartside area on weekends.

"People were coming down on Saturdays, just wandering around," Cummings told MiBiz. "They were people who hadn’t been downtown in 20 years" there to check out some of the changes reported in local media.”

Read the complete story here.


Vacant downtown furniture store may be site of new Peppino's restaurant

Joseph and Carlo Dileonardo are considering whether to open a Peppinno's sports bar near Van Andel Arena in the site of the former EQ3 furniture story by summer.

According to excerpts from the story:

A new Peppino's Inc. pizzeria and sports bar could fill a vacant downtown furniture store in near Van Andel Arena by summer. Peppino's Ristorante, Grille & Sports Lounge would take over the former EQ3 site, 130 Ionia Ave. SW, pending approval of a special downtown liquor license and final lease negotiations with Locus Development LLC, the building's owner.

Peppino's co-owner Joseph Dileonardo on Thursday said he was meeting with officials from Locus to go over final leasing details. His father and business partner, Carlo, also needs to commit to the project. Locus' John Green declined to comment until the project is more certain.

Read the complete story here.


Catholic Central students win national award for prosthetic hand

Some Grand Rapids high school engineering students took top honors in a national design contest for developing a creative prosthetic device for use with computer keyboards.

According to excerpts from the story:

Catholic Central High School's pre-engineering class under the direction of teacher Jeanine Gasper took first place in the nation on Feb. 26 during the Junior Engineering Technological Society (JETS) finals competition in Washington, D.C. for their invention of a prosthetic hand that can type.

The Handy Typer beat more than 250 submitted inventions and won the grand prize in Washington, DC – the organization's highest honor. Judging was based on engineering, simplicity of design, marketability, and benefit to the user. The students designed the prosthetic for their teacher, Mike Martin, who lost his left hand 40 years ago.

Read the complete story here.


Downtown Grand Rapids development booming despite recession

Despite the nationwide recession, Grand Rapids development continues to move forward as a multi-million-dollar response to the health care upsurge and the promise of hundreds of related jobs. A concise look at current and future construction projects provides an impressive snapshot of West Michigan’s tenacity and vision.

According to excerpts from the story:

GRAND RAPIDS -- One look at construction projects in downtown Grand Rapids and someone might believe the urban center has bypassed the nation's economic bust. That would be an overstatement. Jay Fowler, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said it is a tough time to do deals despite the continuing construction. But thanks to unprecedented investments in health care facilities, dedicated local developers and lucky timing, downtown finds itself in the midst of a construction boom.

The price tag for ongoing projects -- more than $770 million -- is a historic high for the region, at the same time construction spending is down across the nation and activity is grinding to a halt in some areas. While spending is likely to see dramatic drops as major projects wrap up, another round of investments designed, in part, to capitalize on the current boom is on the drawing board.

Read the complete story here.

353 Heartside Articles | Page: | Show All
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