A Cherry Deal

October 15, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS—Two new tenants will dock at Cherry Street Landing soon, and those businesses will fill a key and unique building in the district.

Churchill’s Bar & Bistro and the Nightclub Moxie are moving into 70 Ionia Ave. SW, the site of the former Milner Hotel. Churchill’s and Nightclub Moxie are leasing the entire ground floor, more than 9,100 square feet of space, and are sharing the kitchen area.

A grand-opening date for both hasn’t been set yet, but the building will be fully occupied when both begin serving.

The Rockford Development Group bought the vacant and dilapidated Milner Hotel from Owens-Ames-Kimball Co. in 2002 after a plan to turn the building into a Howard Johnson’s hotel fell through. A year later, Rockford got permission to raze the Milner. The firm then formed a partnership with the Richard DeVos family, and together they built a four-story, 44,000-square-foot structure on the site.

The Williams Group, an international marketing and communications company, bought a portion of the building. The BETA Design Group became the building’s first tenant when the firm signed a 10-year-lease in late 2003 for the structure’s top two floors. BETA Design designed the building, which features an illuminated sail on the roof that lights up at night.

“The sculptural element at the top of the building serves as a beacon for the Cherry Street Landing district. The intended design was to create a building that will someday be viewed as a classic building for the area,” said Doug Brant, president of BETA Design.

The building was among the first to seek LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the core, shell and commercial interior.

Cherry Street Landing took 10 years to build, involved about a dozen structures and cost roughly $60 million to construct. Rockford CEO John Wheeler called the development a “viable and sustainable community.”

“With the addition of Churchill’s and Nightclub Moxie, we feel the necessary elements to this neighborhood exist, and hopefully will inspire continued growth and avenues for entrepreneurs considering the downtown area as a home for their business,” said Wheeler.

“Now with a parking ramp, bank, retail, office space, residential and higher education all within a three-block radius, we see a healthy, sustainable and exciting community.”     

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