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The State of Downtown Grand Rapids Retail


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Reminder to all: 60 minutes of free parking are available every day in Monroe Center Ramp. Use it or loose it.

Thanks for posting this, I was getting ready to when I was reading the previous posts.

And one other thing, being that Michigan ranks like 9th in the country for the most obese adults, couldn't we all use a little extra exercise? Walking two blocks should not be seen as a "hardship" (granted it is for some). Change perspective and say - "Cool, I get to get out and stretch my legs for a couple blocks!" Look up in the sky and count cranes while you walk. Notice different architectural styles while you walk. Heck, take those couple minutes to think about the kinds of retailers you'd like to be walking past, then go home and e-mail them a suggestion to locate in GR.

*fish

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Yes, they are giving a valid reason for the failure of the business, at least to some, but the backlash is also there because they are giving a reason for closing while ignoring their own faults.  Pas

Interesting article:  The Next Big Challenge for Small Downtowns An excerpt which isn't specifically about GR but hits close to home - "Civic centers, government hubs, tourism and entertainment d

Since this place seems less hostile, hyperbolic and knee-jerky than every other site on the entire internet, I'll throw my 2 cents here. Original Propaganda owner: Kudos to your concept and produ

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I didn't want my rambling opinion above to get into a parking debate... we've had that one plenty on here and I think everyone agrees that a parking problem exists (too much) There is definitely plenty of parking downtown, more than enough. I agree with Sailor completely with her summary of why Ann Arbor and Chicago downtown retail works. Its the diversity. I LOVE walking around Chicago. I don't even buy anything! I realize the market in Chicago is much different than downtown GR, but if we have a few 'anchor' retailers to draw the 'normal folk' downtown, it would put more bodies walking past the non-standard retail and if the store fronts were up to par, it would draw them in...

Edited by jbr12
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I didn't want my rambling opinion above to get into a parking debate... we've had that one plenty on here and I think everyone agrees that a parking problem exists (too much) There is definitely plenty of parking downtown, more than enough. I agree with Sailor completely with her summary of why Ann Arbor and Chicago downtown retail works. Its the diversity. I LOVE walking around Chicago. I don't even buy anything! I realize the market in Chicago is much different than downtown GR, but if we have a few 'anchor' retailers to draw the 'normal folk' downtown, it would put more bodies walking past the non-standard retail and if the store fronts were up to par, it would draw them in...

Re: Parking debate... Me neither. It's an efficiency and cost ($$$ and time) issue. I like AlexPKeaton's phrase about reaching a "critical mass of retailers." Theoretically speaking, what would that be? It feels as if we're inching up to that line, especially with Schuler Books moving in, but I can't see the line. I know what that critical mass would be for me, and, on paper, I'm a retail marketer's dream (educated 30-something female in a DINK household), but I also know that what I would like is not necessarily what everyone else would like.

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Re: Parking debate... Me neither. It's an efficiency and cost ($$$ and time) issue. I like AlexPKeaton's phrase about reaching a "critical mass of retailers." Theoretically speaking, what would that be? It feels as if we're inching up to that line, especially with Schuler Books moving in, but I can't see the line. I know what that critical mass would be for me, and, on paper, I'm a retail marketer's dream (educated 30-something female in a DINK household), but I also know that what I would like is not necessarily what everyone else would like.

I live DT and I NEVER shop there. I cannot afford to. I am forced to shop at a mall in the burbs therefore "critical mass" is FAR away

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Sign says Jadestone Custom Clothing. "Men's and Women's Custom-Made Suits." Under that are three lines listing "in collaboration" with other ventures...I think massage therapy was one of them.

This place is now open. I believe it said Charley's Alterations. Bright green rope lighting, very distinctive at night. (Sorry, no pic.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Haha! Thankfully, I just read in the Press today that Andy Winkel and John Green have bought the building and have two potential retail tenants and a potential office user already.

Does anyone get the GRBJ? There is an article this week about John, Andy and the EQ3 building. Wondered if there are any new details? Maybe they will add floors to cover the parking deck wall.

Edited by mpchicago
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Does anyone get the GRBJ? There is an article this week about John, Andy and the EQ3 building. Wondered if there are any new details? Maybe they will add floors to cover the parking deck wall.

The article didn't mention anything about building up on the site. Just said they were planning on leasing the space. Work would depend on who leases it and how much of the building they lease. Meaning if one tenant takes the entire space, they won't do anything, but if they have to split it up into three spaces with three entrances they will. The article also remarked about how well the space looked and was kept up. I guess it is very nice inside. There is one aparment on the seond floor and they mentioned nothing would change with that piece of the building.

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Add one more vacancy to the list. Although, Telegration used to be in this space, which wasn't technically a retailer (plus their windows were perpetually dirty).

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I believe Telegration moved into the new Regus space in the Calder Plaza Building (based on this article in MiBiz) Anyone have any good ideas of what could go in here? The DDA is on an aggressive retail revival mission, and looking for input.

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Anyone have any good ideas of what could go in here? The DDA is on an aggressive retail revival mission, and looking for input.

Let's expand the Monroe Center food court to include Ottawa Ave. :thumbsup:

Seriously, any hard goods retailer would be a great fit, because we are sorely lacking them downtown. Clothing, Card Shop, anything that will bring more life to the downtown street scene.

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I don't care if it's not a popular opinion, I want a 'regular' store, like a CVS, Blockbuster and a GAP-esque store. I'd love an H & M or Urban Outfitters, but they won't bite. I think stores like those all generate a LOT more foot traffic (especially during and just after the work day), and could help boost the foot traffic to stores like Schuler's, Little Bo, and Gina's. Also, I'm constantly looking for a normal grocery store; if only the Grand Central Market would stock up on regular food items!

:) Just a downtown worker/resident vent. I hate leaving my cocoon for things like movies, medicine, toiletries, prescriptions, and frozen pizza! That being said, I don't really think any of those would necessarily fit in that specific location.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Steve Wilson, who has headed the Convention and Visitors Bureau for 15 years, is leaving back to his hometown of Flint to head up the Mott Foundation there. He comments today in the Press about the BAD need for retail downtown close to the convention center:

Top pitchman reflects on downtown's rebirth

"We have the product, we have to increase the utilization of those products outside the community."

The area's two most immediate challenges are improving air service at Gerald R. Ford International Airport and offering a better downtown shopping experience, he said.

"We understand we won't get a Nordstrom's, but it would be nice to get more specialty shops adjacent to the convention center," he said.

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Does anyone get the GRBJ? There is an article this week about John, Andy and the EQ3 building. Wondered if there are any new details? Maybe they will add floors to cover the parking deck wall.

Ever curious what's in the GRBJ but don't read enough to subscribe to it? There's always a copy in the periodical room at the Ryerson Library downtown, right behind the copy machine/desk area if memory serves me correctly.

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Ever curious what's in the GRBJ but don't read enough to subscribe to it? There's always a copy in the periodical room at the Ryerson Library downtown, right behind the copy machine/desk area if memory serves me correctly.

Yes, I'll hop in the car and drive three hours to go to the GRPL to read the GRBJ and turn around and come back. :lol: Just make the online FREE!

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It is a nice old library (and new). You could look at some of the old GR photos while you're in there. :)

I did spend many hours in that library back in the day. I loved the old Microfiche Grand Rapids Press, Real Estate photo documents, and the Grand Rapids history exhibits! The Microfiche machines used to be on a makeshift platform over the second floor mezzanine in the Ryerson wing. Glad that's all opened up again. It looks great!

Now back to the topic at hand....... Is an ice cream shop is the works for the old Fannie May/Two Choppers spot?

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  • 2 weeks later...

As cool as it was for our group to throw around ideas and meet with the DA, it's great to see that the DDA has picked up the torch and carried it a lot further. Their study of downtown retailers should be a great tool to go forward. Also, meeting with several developers and downtown commercial brokers should help a lot to formulate an action plan. I did offer to Jay Fowler that we'd be happy to volunteer if they need any help with anything.

But it's surprising to see so many downtown retailers say that they think downtown needs a couple of good "anchors", like some department stores. But then they say they don't want big national retailers. What department stores are left in this country that aren't big nationals?

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With today's announcement of Gilmore's intention to develop a hotel/entertainment complex next to the BOB along with the continuous construction of condos...one would have to believe that there are going to be a lot of people/tourist looking to spend money (i.e. shop). If Gilmore's plans do come to fruition I think GR gets one step closer to some sort of major downtown retail project.

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Would you look at this.

(DISCLAIMER: unlike most of my DT banner pics, these are unretouched photos. I resized them, did not paste anything new & different atop the poles.)

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Jay Fowler told me an entertaining story about how Streets vetoed the banner-hangers using the hose-clamped lower hangers due to possible wind load caused by the "sails"...so they found some nice bungie cords.

Don't see any decorations on the sunny side of the street...I'm sure those are on order.

Edited by Veloise
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