Re-Kindeled Bing Goei gives old factory new life

September 25, 2008
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Eastern Floral owner Bing Goei plans to renovate the old Kindel Furniture factory on Butterworth Avenue SW for his company, Eastern Floral, and for incubator space for new minority- and women-owned businesses.

Goei said he hopes his $4 million project will be a catalyst to spur economic development of the long-neglected Butterworth corridor into an area that embraces diversity and provides a welcoming path from the city to Millenium Park.

The project was to be unveiled today at an event featuring speeches from Dick DeVos, president of Windquest Group, Jeanne Englehardt, president & CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and Stephanie Leonardos, president & CEO of Amerikam.

Eastern Floral will occupy about half of the 70,000-square-foot former factory for production, distribution as Goei transitions the $6 million privately-held firm to serve international markets via the Internet. Jen VanSkiver, vice president of marketing communications at Rockford Companies, said Rockford Construction Co. Inc. will handle the remodeling which will be designed by Isaac V. Norris & Associates, a local, minority-owned firm. Goei said Eastern Floral’s Kentwood location at 2836 Broadmoor Ave. SE will become strictly a retail location. The 100-employee company’s six other locations will remain open, he said.

Among the eight small businesses planning to move to the refurbished building’s incubator space, the International Center for Entrpreneurial Excellence, are Alternative Medical Supplies, DeVault Quigley Design and human resources company Wamimi Inc., Goei said. 

The former furniture factory on 3.5 acres at 818 Butterworth Ave. SW has been vacant for years.

Englehardt said she thinks the project is a step toward creating a city that welcomes young, creative professionals, often touted by Michigan think tanks as a key to reviving the state economy.

“It is really important for cities to make renovation and revitalization a priority,” she said. “Sixty-four percent of young professionals first chose the city where they want to live and then look for a job. We need to say to young professionals and entrepreneurs, small businesses, we are here to help you achieve your goals.”

According to the city of Grand Rapids Web site, Kindel Furniture Co. sold the property to Goei’s BSG Group LLC in 2006 for $453,000. The state equalized value for 2008 is $218,100.

“We knew we needed to be in a place where we could have greater and easier access to the freeways,” Goei said. His main location is near the intersection of East Beltline Avenue and 28th Street SE, one of the busiest in the state. He said traffic often hampers deliveries.

Goei said he’s excited to provide a place for entrepreneurs to start out with their visions for the new, small companies he thinks are important to Michigan’s economic future. He said there is plenty of room for more businesses.

Goei said he wants Grand Rapids to embrace the myriad of cultures and talent that have been brought here by immigrants like himself.

“We would love to see this whole neighborhood become an international community,” he said. “We envision Butterworth being an international corridor starting at the river and ending at Millenium Park.

“Why can’t we have an international corridor where residences look like residences around the world, where shops and businesses look like shops and businesses around the world. Why can we look at the Butterworth Landfill as an asset?”

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