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Breweries and neighborhood culture
Every city, town and neighborhood has a voice. This voice represents and labels a community. This voice describes the neighborhood and welcomes people into it. But where does this unique voice come from? How does a neighborhood establish and develop their specific culture?
The cultural epicenter of many modern cities, and this is especially true in Grand Rapids, are restaurants and breweries. As Beer City, U.S.A., Grand Rapids has invested a lot in this unique culture and is continuing to grow in intelligent ways. Breweries make unique contributions to the culture of Grand Rapids by serving as a way to re-energize a community, as forms of artistic expression, and by elevating the culture of the city.
Within Grand Rapids, it is easy to find examples of a brewery re-energizing a neighborhood. You can look at City Built Brewing Company coming soon to Monroe, Creston Brewing on Plainfield, or Greyline on Alpine. These spaces are making legitimate contributions to the revitalization of their neighborhoods by understanding their communities and providing an experience for local residents. Breweries catalyze the development of neighborhoods, they spur economic growth and development and they give insight to future developers about the vitality of the neighborhood.
In the past, artistic expression in breweries was forced to be covert and behind the scenes. This has changed recently, however. With the help of trailblazers in West Michigan — specifically at Bell’s, Founders, and Long Road (to name a few) — it has opened up opportunities for other people to take more chances and inspired innovative structures and atmospheres.
At its core, the Grand Rapids culture is about art and community. The experience and atmosphere of a brewery shares these two pillars of art and community with Grand Rapids. The city supports and fosters the creation of art. This meshes well with the craft beer community which is built specifically on the foundation of peer review and transparency. For a Grand Rapids brewery to succeed, on top of having great beer, it must also offer a great experience. This experience comes from the atmosphere as well as the food.
Grand Rapids knows its beer, and demands more out of its cultural centers than that. What we try to do is create a space that allows people to have that great experience they are looking for. When we plan new construction for breweries, we must understand a few things. First, a brewery is a cornerstone of a neighborhood. Second, a brewery provides that neighborhood with a unique culture. Third, that a brewery can represent that neighborhood. Being conscious of these concepts allows us to truly understand the role of the buildings that we construct and to contribute to the art and expression that is Grand Rapids.
The growth of Grand Rapids neighborhoods, sometimes known as districts, has evolved through the explosion of craft brew culture throughout the city. Because the pillars of Grand Rapids include art and community, the breweries have taken on a unique identity as the models for neighborhood growth and have influenced the growth of once abandoned pockets of the city. This is what makes Grand Rapids the one true Beer City, U.S.A.