Size Does Matter

March 31, 2003
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DavidWagner’s house is up for sale, and it seems that everyone who is anyone took notice of the final deed of the former chief of Old Kent Bank.

It looks like the man is heading south to sunny Boca, as the natives call it, to snuggle in among the islands.

While not everyone in West Michigan is wishing the banker extraordinaire a fond farewell, it should be noted that the longtime pillar of the community who for many years was an active voice and leader in the region will be missed.

The lament is that he shoulda/coulda/woulda stayed, and contributed mightily to this community. He hasn’t even reached 50 yet, which is the time when most private sector leaders really turn up the philanthropy jets.

Point is, he doesn’t have to put up with Peter Secchia’s continued tirade about the really golden parachute he negotiated with Fifth Third, and he won’t.

Despite all the recent growth, it seems Grand Rapids just wasn’t big enough for the both of them anyway.

But is it too late to trade?

Another question: How far away is Boca from Sanibel Island? That would make for an interesting meeting at the local marina.

  • Everyone jokes about bank holidays, but did you know there is a real 5/3rd “holiday?”

Really. It’s May 3. And that’s the day everyone at the region’s largest (by market share) bank gets their salary increases, bonuses, etc. Word has it that the day is no picnic in the park, but the calendar plays a curious trick this year. A Saturday, you say? Since it’s an off day for the upper echelon, does that mean …? Nah, employees won’t have to wait a whole year, despite what some former bankers are saying.

  • East Grand Rapids is said to be closer to a plan everyone likes for the Jade Pig development in the former Jacobson’s location.

What is it? Well, everyone’s tight-lipped for now. Anticipate announcements when Easties get back from spring break (end of April). Question: If a major announcement is made in East over spring break, will anyone be there to hear it?

City Hall is staying mum on plan highlights, but they are so excited they cannot refrain from at least commenting that “it’s going to be really great, really cool.”

It better be, because the view of Reeds Lake from the current library’s windows is spectacular. And no one wants to give that up, even if the tradeoff is watching SuzanneGeha work the tables at Kabookie’s.

  • While the bear hug of Simons Property Group, the Indianapolis mall conglomerate and public company, is said to be getting harder to resist, what with AlfredTaubman in the slammer on that little auction house misstep, those who know say Woodland Shopping Center is not exactly living up to the market share claimed in a local newspaper story last week.

Analysts note Hudson’s, now Marshall Field’s, fight to off the planned Lord & Taylor store was a sinker that would have given the Taubman-owned center an edge over RiverTown’s retail clean up.

With Big Al behind bars and Simon Property making a cash play for the Taubman properties, others could enter the fray. Interestingly, General Growth Properties, owner of RiverTown, is reported to be sniffing around, as is Westfield America Trust and Rouse Co.

Such players could touch off a bidding war for Woodland and other Taubman properties.

And to top it off, BillBussey from the retail group at Grubb & Ellis/Paramount Properties says the Grand Rapids area still is “underserved” when it comes to malls.

Anyone up for another full-sized shopping mall near the new M-6?

  • Just in time for spring break: An airline has announced a buy-onboard meal service.

Midwest Airlines, based in Milwaukee, has partnered with LSG Sky Chefs to offer passengers the option of purchasing deli-style breakfast, lunch and dinner selections on its flights.

The airline had previously announced that it would “transition” to in-flight snack service on flights that offered meal service as part of company-wide cost-reduction efforts.

Now, the reasoning goes, passengers can still get a meal, they’ll just have to pay for it out of their own pockets.

“Midwest has always had a reputation for offering great food on its flights,” said Jill VanLeuven, director of inflight and dining services. “Despite the economic realities of today’s industry environment, we’re very pleased to offer travelers the convenient option of purchasing meals onboard our aircraft.”

A ten-spot will get you a chicken salad croissant, salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, an apple and bottled water.

But for those who have flown Midwest in the past, the best part of air travel continues. The airline will offer its signature baked-onboard chocolate chip cookies on all flights that have beverage service. In fact, due to customer demand, the delectable morsels will be available “around the clock,” according to Van Leuven.

  • The argument goes that minor league athletes don’t stick around town long enough to gain much of a following. Well, even if goalie MarcLamothe gets called up to the Red Wings tomorrow, the current Grand Rapids Griffin will certainly have made his mark locally.

Lamothe was named the teams’ 2002-03 American Specialty/HG Insurance/AHL Man of the Year last week. The award honors the Griffins player judged to have made the greatest commitment to his community and charitable organizations throughout the course of the season.

Lamothe worked with the American Cancer Society by pledging $1 for every save he made. Fox Motor Group matched, and $2,726 had been raised as of last Wednesday. He also initiated the “Coins for Cancer” program at the arena and Fox dealerships.

“I think there are a lot of guys on this team that have made quite a contribution to the community this year,” he said. “I think it is important for the players to get involved in the community. We’re definitely looked up to, especially by the young kids and the students that we go and see. It’s fun to be a positive role model for them.”

How refreshing.           

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