Arts & Entertainment, Construction, and Travel & Tourism

Meijer Gardens projects taking shape

Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden opened earlier this month, Outdoor Picnic Pavilion to be ready this fall.

May 24, 2019
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Meijer Gardens plaza
Approximately two-thirds of the amphitheater plaza will be ready for concertgoers June 4, with the remainder completed early in 2021 with the addition of a welcome center. Courtesy Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park guests may need a calendar to keep track of the completion of each facility that currently is under construction.

Meijer Gardens expects its multifacility project to be completed by 2023. The project, which was launched by way of a $115-million capital campaign titled Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love, encompasses newly built, renovated and expanded facilities.

Anne Benson, director of philanthropy and membership, said the revamp of Meijer Gardens stems from its attendance growth.

“When we built the current building, we were serving 200,000 people per year, but now we are serving more than 700,000 people per year, and we expect it to grow,” she said. “We had to campaign and build these new resources to accommodate all of these folks.”

The facilities are a 20,000-square-foot new LEED-certified Covenant Learning Center, a new Cook Transportation Center, a renovated and expanded amphitheater, a new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden, a new Sculpture Garden Entry Plaza, a new Outdoor Picnic Pavilion, a new 60,000-square-foot LEED-certified Welcome Center, an expanded parking lot and urban gardens, Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall English Perennial Garden and an expansion of the BISSELL Corridor and Gallery.

“We have built the Covenant Learning Center, which was one of the first projects that we undertook,” Benson said. “It is completed already. We opened it last September, and that is the area for our education team. We used to have two classrooms; now we have six classrooms. We have a new children’s gallery, the David and Carol Van Andel Children’s Gallery. We have interactive exhibits in there for kids. So, education is a big part of it.

“We also built (the Cook) Transportation Center and we opened that last June. We had a tram station, but it wasn’t large enough. This new center is located in a better spot, and it serves our tram (tours) wonderfully. In two phases, we’ve made improvements to our Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater. Last season, we built a whole new sponsor seating (area). In years past, we had chairs, like camp chairs, in the back of the amphitheater that were reserved for two sponsors, but now we (have) six seats. In doing that, we were able to more than double the number of sponsor seats, which is great for our revenue and great for our sponsors because they are much more comfortable. Phase two, we are getting ready to complete a brand-new concession building. So, the concession building will triple in size. … It will be ready for the 2019 concert series.”

The new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden, located on top of the Covenant Learning Center, was opened earlier this month.

Benson said about two-thirds of the Sculpture Garden Entry Plaza will be ready for the first concert June 4. The other third will be ready when the Welcome Center opens in early 2021. The entry plaza will be the entrance to the Welcome Center and the amphitheater.

The Welcome Center will have a coat room, security offices and a ticketing center.

The Outdoor Picnic Pavilion is expected to be completed this fall. Benson said the pavilion will be located adjacent to the amphitheater. There were three small picnic pavilions scattered around the campus. However, she said, they were not large enough for students who visited on field trips to eat their lunch. The new pavilion will be 230 square feet, and it will be open in time for the 2019-20 school year.

The reconstruction of the parking lot is expected to be completed in late 2020. The redesign is designed to offer additional accessible parking near the entrance and increase the number of parking spaces overall. In addition, there will be new urban and rain gardens that will control the water runoff.

Meijer Gardens will recreate the Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall English Perennial Garden and it is expected to be completed in June 2022.

The BISSELL Corridor and Gallery renovation is expected to be completed in late 2022. It will consist of the expansion of the scenic corridor to accommodate more foot traffic. The expansion also will be connected to the new Welcome Center.

A Volunteer Tribute Garden is expected to be completed in 2023.

Benson said the $115-million goal was met in September 2017, and the total now stands at $116.8 million in donations. The additional $1.8 million will be split between the gardens’ future sculpture acquisitions and its endowment.

The construction and renovation of different facilities have not stopped Meijer Gardens from conducting business as usual. Over the past few months, it has increased the number of title and associate sponsorships for its events.

Fifth Third Bank recently renewed its three-year title sponsorship contract for the Fifth Third Summer Concert Series. The renewal will start in 2020 and run through 2022. The bank started partnering with Meijer Gardens in 2014.

The gardens announced its new title sponsorship with Metro Health. It will sponsor the annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World. Benson said although the annual event has been taking place for 24 years, this will be the first year the event will have a title sponsor.

“We signed a three-year partnership with the gardens,” said Jamie Allen, manager of public relations and communications for Metro Health. “We will be sponsoring it this year and the next two years after that. ... For us being based in West Michigan, we have seen that the annual event is a holiday favorite for West Michigan families.”

Constellation Brands also will join Metro Health in sponsoring the Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World as a new associate sponsor. Howard Miller Company is a new associate sponsor for the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition, and Meyer Music is a new associate sponsor for Tuesday Evening Music Club concerts.

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