Eastown Club Moving Downtown Soon

September 3, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Intersection nightclub already has begun to book acts for its new, larger digs at 133 Grandville Ave. SW downtown.

The main level of the building on Grandville, which originally housed a truck dealership, is being renovated into a restaurant and bar, while the basement will remain a warehouse for Ronda Tire.

Rob Harley, general manager, said he’s targeting late October for opening.

The live entertainment club brings in up-and-coming musical acts from around the country and has been a mainstay in Eastown for 30 years.

The Intersection will continue to operate out of its Eastown location until then, he said.

The Intersection’s owner, local businessman Joel Langlois, purchased the Grandville Avenue property about three months ago. Langlois also owns the DeltaPlex Expo and Convention Center in Walker.

Langlois wanted to increase the size of the club’s venue to accommodate larger events. The leased Eastown facility at 1520 Wealthy SE can only accommodate 300 to 400 people.

Harley’s billing the new club as an 800-seater.

The restaurant will be open for lunch, with concerts typically scheduled after 7 p.m.

Hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and occasional Sundays, with peak usage anticipated between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m.

“We do shows on Sunday too, but it won’t consistently be open on Sundays at this point in time. We’re still kind of shaping our programming,” Harley said. “We’re going to try to be open seven days a week as many times as possible.”

Live entertainment will be offered basically every night, and the club will spotlight a wider variety of musical acts in the new facility, he added.

Two nearby property owners had expressed concerns about adequate parking for Intersection patrons at a public hearing before the Planning Commission in June.

But City Planner Bill Hoyt doesn’t think parking will be a problem.

“I think that what we find in the evening is that a lot of this parking is just wanting anyway,” he told city commissioners recently. “After 5 o’clock there have been a lot of parking opportunities here and it’s one more way of making efficient use of that parking.”

Harley said the Intersection fits into the city’s overall plan of becoming the cultural and entertainment hub of West Michigan.

“Our particular club has been driven by the people who come in to see the shows. That’s what we’re going to rely on in the new facility as well,” he noted.

He said the Intersection isn’t following the crowd downtown; rather, it’s going to bring a crowd downtown.

“I’m looking at, over the course of the year, probably bringing another 100,000 people into downtown that wouldn’t ordinarily have come.

“We’re not going to rely on other people to bring people downtown; we’re going to try to bring them ourselves.”

The Intersection will be looking at ways it can tie in with other events and promotions going on downtown.

The week before last, for example, the Intersection featured Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty’s rock and roll band, Grinder.

The band doesn’t do a lot of shows, but when it does perform, a portion of the proceeds goes to McCarty’s favorite charity, the Cancer Research Foundation.

Grinder played to a sell-out crowd.

“Now there’s a perfect thing we could do in conjunction with, say, a hockey event downtown — bring in Darren and his band and make an event out of it,” Harley said. “We’re looking to do exactly those kinds of things.”

He said he has been working closely with the people who put together entertainment events at the Van Andel Arena. They’re the same people who have arranged the majority of the concerts at the DeltaPlex, which Harley also manages.

“Will I have an opportunity to tie in with some promotions and events that they have going on downtown? Sure.”

“Those can be a win-win situation for everybody. I don’t care whether it’s a hockey game or a rock and roll show, whatever additional promotion you can get for an event always helps.”

The Intersection no longer hosts many local bands with admission by cover charge anymore. It has moved predominantly to events ticketed through TicketMaster.

Ticket prices vary, generally ranging from $10 to $20. 

“There are going to be a few higher priced ones down at the new club because we’re going to bring in a few more acts that we can justify a little higher price ticket on.”

The Intersection’s presence in Eastown will be missed.

“We’re always unhappy to see a business move but we understand that they want to do things and that they want to be in their own building. That’s primarily the reason for the move,” said Baird Hawkins, president of the Eastown Business Association.

Hawkins said the Intersection has been an institution in Eastown, providing spin-off business, particularly for Eastown eateries.

“There’s always that synergy with the restaurants,” he said. “It’s our guess, or hope, that another club or bar will come into that space.”

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