Biggby Coffee, Subway and Chasing Vanity move into Wealthy Street space
As the development of downtown’s retail and housing projects continues, business continues to flow into Grand Rapids’ urban outskirts as two franchises and one locally owned company move into the Wealthy Street business district.
Biggby Coffee, Subway and Chasing Vanity Salon and Spa are moving into the Wealthy Street section of the Tapestry Square development, an ongoing housing and retail project that aims to transform the three-and-a-half blocks along Wealthy Street, South Division Avenue and LaGrave Avenue into an economic gateway for the city of Grand Rapids.
The Biggby and Subway shops will both operate out the building at 100 Wealthy St. SE, said Jonathan Bradford, the executive director of Inner City Christian Federation. Bradford said Biggby, franchised by Amanda Bruinsma, will have about 1,450 square feet, and Subway, franchised by Sheryl Hoeksma, will have about 1,850 square feet.
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Chasing Vanity, owned by Lisa Bartrom, will operate in a 33,000-square-foot space at 150 Wealthy St. SE. All three businesses have signed five-year leases to be part of Tapestry Square, Bradford said.
“It was a fabulous accomplishment to have the letters of intent by Thanksgiving. We got everything committed in less than half of the time we expected. Now the build-out is underway,” he said. “The openings are expected between the first week of May (for Subway) and the middle of June (for Biggby and Chasing Vanity).”
The retail shops will be located on the ground floor of mixed-used buildings, designed to have retail below and affordable housing above. There are 16 units each in 100 Wealthy and 150 Wealthy, Bradford said, with all 32 units designed with the same utilities and quality of structure.
“Four of the units are produced for people whose incomes are lower than 60 percent of area median income. Six of the units are for people whose income is up to 80 percent of area median income, and the remaining 22 units are priced for people with income up to 120 percent median area income,” he said. “We were able to rent the 32 residential units in two months and we had letters of commitment from the retailers in four months.”
Bradford said urban revitalization happens when developments are designed for a mixed use of retail and housing. The concept has not been used in the Wealthy Street neighborhood for more than 40 years, he said, and the results have been evident.
“In 1912, there were 4,744 people living in this neighborhood, and (during the 2010 census) about a year ago, it was under 600,” he said. “In 1950, there were 43 retail businesses within two blocks of the Wealthy/Jefferson corner. Today there is one business — McGraw Tire and Auto Repair.”
Separating uses is damaging to the fabric of the community, Bradford said. Projects like Tapestry Square are the culture’s way of correcting the mistakes of the past, he said, solving the community’s housing and retail problems in one blow.
“Retail and housing have to be viewed in dynamic tension of each other,” he said. “Retail goes where people are. The people also go where good retail is… If people aren’t there, businesses won’t stay. It’s never a tidy and precise formula of which happens first.”