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111 South Division Development

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Posted

I hope the first thing they do is *restore* the sign.

Joe

I was just thinking that I really like the sign. I just wish it didn't look quite so shabby.

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Posted

I hope the first thing they do is *restore* the sign.

Joe

You are correct, Joe.

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Posted

Save the sign!

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Posted (edited)

I agree, it gives that building character. They really should restore it or at least give it to someone who would. Awesome news though.

Edited by d8alterego

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Posted

Love the sign - it ranks right up there with the old Uptown cleaners sign and my all time favorite - Fatboy. I'd take it but unfortunately, it's a little too big for my living room.

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Posted

I do believe the sign is staying...

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Posted

I was in that building over 10 years ago. The "ballroom" is very interesting with booths off to each side, I heard the brothel rumor and i could see how that would function. The space needs much work but could be amazing.

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Posted

I agree and hope that the sign is restored. South Division along this stretch once had many such signs. It was a bit of a look or style to the area, in my perception. This Harris sign is the only one left from that era. I would imagine that with it being in the historic district, the sign will probably have to be restored because of its historic significance?

I also wonder what they are going to do with the ballroom. I hear many people talk about "the awesome ballroom" inside, and seems to be one of the first things people think about when this building is mentioned. I hope that can be restored and find a suitable use as well.

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Posted (edited)

I was in that building over 10 years ago. The "ballroom" is very interesting with booths off to each side, I heard the brothel rumor and i could see how that would function. The space needs much work but could be amazing.

I was in the Bergsma Furnture building on Broadway NW a number of years ago. The facilities manager gave me a tour and they had a similar "theater' set up with small rooms off the "auditorium". He told me that the buyers would come to GR to look at the new samples and the company would entertain the buyers with "entertainment" on the "stage". If a buyer was so inclined, they could take or be taken by an "entertainer" into the small room which was furnished with a bed and a full length mirror strategically placed on the back of the door (mirrors are (were) still there). The small rooms definitely were not for overnight accommodations. The Bergsma building also had a full kitchen / banquet facility on the lower level. When I was there it was still all intact, just needed a cleaning and it would have been ready to go. I don't know if the facilities are still there since RT London has taken over the building. If only the walls could talk ;)

Edited by Raildudes dad

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Posted

This project will be called "The Collective @ The Harris Building" and will be a 24 hour facility providing commercial offices, classrooms, film/photography/art studios, and a wellness center. The developer has a similar "Collective" in Kentwood.

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Posted

This project will be called "The Collective @ The Harris Building" and will be a 24 hour facility providing commercial offices, classrooms, film/photography/art studios, and a wellness center. The developer has a similar "Collective" in Kentwood.

Isn't Gerry Barnaby (former TV now radio guy) involved with that one in Kentwood? Is he part of this one, too?

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Posted

Isn't Gerry Barnaby (former TV now radio guy) involved with that one in Kentwood? Is he part of this one, too?

The only name mentioned is Bob Dykstra, the owner. I know what you mean though. I think Gerry is an Account Manager or sales guy for the Collective (?) There was an article about it.

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Posted

I thought I'd chime in here with some history and updates on the Harris Building project:

 

The Harris Building, with its rich history and architectural character, has been an icon of the Heartside District for over a century.

 

Built in 1892 on the site of the former Grand Rapids Union Brewery, the Harris Building was one of the first to take advantage of the commercial transformation of Division Avenue. While the first-floor retail space featured showrooms displaying the wares of The Furniture City, the second and third floors were known as Eureka Lodge No. 2 by members of a secret fraternal organization called the Knights of Pythias. In addition to the organization’s offices and formal meeting rooms, the second floor features an expansive, domed ballroom with 18-foot ceilings. The third floor’s skylight-illuminated hallways once led to bedroom suites where the lodge members could entertain their female guests.

 

The Harris Sample Furniture Company, from which the building gets its iconic exterior signage, moved into the first floor in 1909 and would continue to operate in this location for the next sixty years. Each year in the spring and fall, furniture buyers from across the country would converge in Grand Rapids, “The Furniture City”, to view and purchase from the new lines which were shown through sample pieces at the Exhibitor’s Building and various other furniture showrooms. Once the shows were over, the display pieces would be sold through The Harris Sample Furniture Company to save out-of-town manufacturers the cost and hassle of shipping their product home.

 

The Harris Sample Furniture Company closed its doors in 1969. In the following decades the building would house a variety of retailers and charities until unfortunately falling into disrepair in the early 2000s.

 

In the late-2000s with the revitalization of the Heartside neighborhood and South Division Avenue’s transformation into the “Avenue for the Arts”, the Urban Renaissance Group acquired the Harris Building and begun planning its renovation. Since then the building has played host to events by SITE:LAB and SaturDAZE, a gallery for the American Institute of Architects, as well as a home for pop-up stores by Teamwork Bags, Detroit Denim Co., and Direct Trade Coffee Club.

 

Renovation work went into full swing in the spring of 2013 with the announcement of The Harris Building’s new first-floor tenant, The Local Epicurean. Occupying the north half of the street-level retail space, The Local Epicurean is a locally owned organic pasta company featuring production facilities, a retail shop, and restaurant and teaching kitchen. The first-floor renovations include a separate store entrance, refinished wood floors and brick walls, additional windows, new stairs and elevator, and upgraded utilities, will be completed by early-summer in time for the building’s use as a 2013 ArtPrize venue.

 

Future plans for the building include housing additional retail and restaurant tenants on the ground level and first floors, as well as the utilization of the second and third floors as community events space, studios, residential lofts, and a NextWork Innovation Center.

 

The renovation of this 38,000 square-foot landmark – including retail, restaurant, office, and events space – will play an important part in the revitalization of the historic Heartside Neighborhood.

 

TIMELINE

  • 1892 – Knights of Pythias Lodge

  • 1909 – The Miller & Harris Furniture Company

  • 1959 – The Harris Sample Furniture Company, Brandt Hotel, and Nu-Way Sales Co.

  • 1985 – Townhouse Furniture

  • 1994 – In the Image

  • 2009 – The Urban Renaissance Group

  • 2012 – SITE:LAB, Teamwork Bags, Detroit Denim Co., The American Institute of Architects, and Direct Trade Coffee Club, SaturDAZE

  • 2013 – The Local Epicurean, ArtPrize

 

 

These photos span from around last August up until about two weeks ago. The first floor should be ready for The Local Epicurean to move in sometime in the next thirty days.

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THE HARRIS BUILDING 026 by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING 003 by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING 007 by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING 000 by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING 011 by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING 013 by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

8886547337_23ce8ee96f_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

8908729819_2566eae0a1_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

9030422376_cd9abdd41f_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

9030426014_c9ce25a83c_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

9030423440_bd0ebdf48b_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

9030423840_5dbac7798f_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

9028194573_0dbd320050_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

 

If you'd like to keep up to date on the project, you can visit the website at www.theharrisbuilding.com there's also a facebook page, twitter, and tumblr for the project. 

 

I don't get much free time to get on here, I'll try to check back frequently if you have anyquestions. You can also feel free to send a message via the facebook page or website. 

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Posted (edited)

The building is looking beautiful; the work that is being done is amazing! Is anything going to be done with the 'Harris' sign?

 

Also, since we are having this discussion on here in another thread right now, may I ask: how have redevelopment efforts been hampered or helped by the surrounding community? Is the instability of the neighborhood a concern, or are you and other developers convinced that the area has turned a corner? Thanks!

Edited by jonathan.jam

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Posted

Agreed- It looks fantastic. I really hope they keep the Harris sign (and the Elite Restaurant sign) - such a great nod to the past. 

 

There is an interesting discussion going on about homeless services vs development in another thread. I'd suggest reading it. It's really interesting. 

 

Joe

 

The building is looking beautiful; the work that is being done is amazing! Is anything going to be done with the 'Harris' sign?

 

Also, since we are having this discussion on here in another forum right now, may I ask: how have redevelopment efforts been hampered or helped by the surrounding community? Is the instability of the neighborhood a concern, or are you and other developers convinced that the area has turned a corner? Thanks!

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Posted

Agreed- It looks fantastic. I really hope they keep the Harris sign (and the Elite Restaurant sign) - such a great nod to the past. 

 

There is an interesting discussion going on about homeless services vs development in another thread. I'd suggest reading it. It's really interesting. 

 

Joe

 

Agreed!  I appreciate all the local media coverage, but it's surprising no one's acknowledged the future of the Harris sign - it's only the most distinctive feature on the building.  Hey, has anyone seen the big gray elephant in the room?

 

Thanks for the pics Brad :thumbsup:  Have anyone commented to you on the sign?

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Posted

I thought I'd chime in here with some history and updates on the Harris Building project:

 

 

These photos span from around last August up until about two weeks ago. The first floor should be ready for The Local Epicurean to move in sometime in the next thirty days.

THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

9028194573_0dbd320050_c.jpg

THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

 

If you'd like to keep up to date on the project, you can visit the website at www.theharrisbuilding.com there's also a facebook page, twitter, and tumblr for the project. 

 

I don't get much free time to get on here, I'll try to check back frequently if you have anyquestions. You can also feel free to send a message via the facebook page or website. 

 

If people don't see the potential of South Division from this vantage point, they're really lacking vision. It's one of the best building streetwalls in West Michigan, complete with MSU as the terminating vista. Well, the Haymarket District along E Michigan in Kzoo might be #1, this would be a close 2nd.

 

And I LOVE the little guy poking his head out up on the sidewall of the Harris. Please ask Bob Dykstra to keep him!

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Posted

If people don't see the potential of South Division from this vantage point, they're really lacking vision. It's one of the best building streetwalls in West Michigan, complete with MSU as the terminating vista. Well, the Haymarket District along E Michigan in Kzoo might be #1, this would be a close 2nd.

 

And I LOVE the little guy poking his head out up on the sidewall of the Harris. Please ask Bob Dykstra to keep him!

 

It reminds me of a larger but less inviting version of Grand Haven's Washington Street. If the area was comparable in vibrancy to that area in the summer, South Division would be great!

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Posted

I definitely hope the Harris sign remains.  Not only is it one of the most iconic elements of the building, I'd say it's one of the most iconic elements of the entire district.  It'd be really nice to see it touched up slightly (enough so it doesn't look like it's going to crumble, but not too much so that it still retains its aged charm) and especially see it operational again.

 

I'm curious about the upper cornice, however.  The section where the cornice used to be just looks a bit ugly without it.  Are there any plans to cover that up with a new cornice of any sort?  Or even just paint?

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Posted

I don't see the charm in the rusted out look.  I'd love to see the Harris sign completely restored. The ladder can be removed.

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Posted

Awesome photos!  They really pick out the texture and detail.  I love the Harris sign too as it is, but i think if it should be cleaned up and used in some fashion.

 

9028194573_0dbd320050_c.jpg
THE HARRIS BUILDING by Brad Gillette, on Flickr

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