Civic Duty

September 6, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Members of Grand Action and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre officials honored Fred and Lena Meijer last week for their lead gift to the renovation of the Civic Theatre and its three adjacent buildings on North Division Avenue between Library Street and Monroe Center.

The work will get underway this month, be finished next fall, and cost nearly $10 million.

The amount of the Meijer donation to the project was not disclosed.

“Without the generous support of Fred and Lena Meijer, this project would not have come to fruition. Their gift represents yet another example of visionary community-focused philanthropy,” said David Frey, who chairs the Grand Action Committee with Dick DeVos and John Canepa.

“I cannot think of a better way to recognize such a significant anniversary of one of our area’s most celebrated landmarks,” added Gary Walker, chairman of the Civic Theatre, which is in its 80th season this year.

Construction plans include extensive exterior and interior renovations to the former Majestic Theater — a movie house built in 1904 and home to Grand Rapids Civic Theatre since 1979 — and the adjacent Hull, Botsford and Wenham buildings. The work includes creating a new main level and balcony restrooms, improving circulation in the theater, refurbishing the seating, adding handicap access seating and doubling the size of the lobby.

“We hope to bring one of the few remaining ‘Majestic’-style theaters in the country back to a state of its original magnificence, while incorporating a number of amenities which should enhance the patron’s experience,” said Frey, whose group is coordinating the project.

Owens-Ames-Kimball will manage the construction work.

Tower Pinkster Titus Associates Inc. has designed the renovation with assistance from Quinn Evans of Ann Arbor and Schuler Shock of Chicago.

“As longtime supporters of the Civic Theatre, Lena and I have enjoyed many wonderful performances over the years. It is our hope that this gift will have a substantial impact on both patrons and performers alike and contribute to the vibrant renewal of downtown Grand Rapids,” said Fred Meijer, chairman emeritus of Meijer Inc.

“It truly will become a jewel on the North Division corridor.”    

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