GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A long-time, volunteer-run arts collective in Grand Rapids' Heartside District is being booted from its home as a developer works to create "art and culinary corridor"on South Division Avenue.
The Division Avenue Arts Collective announced late Tuesday night on its Facebook page that it had agreed to vacate its leased space at 115 South Division Avenue after learning that the building had been sold. DAAC organizers said the news was "very sudden and shocking."
"We were told a little less than a week ago, and it was confirmed tonight that we would have to leave," they wrote in a Facebook post.
Harris Lofts LLC purchased 115 and 117 South Division for a $7 million development project, part of which was funded by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Bob Dykstra of Harris Lofts said the company expects to close on the properties by the end of this month.
Harris Lofts also already owns the Harris Building at 111 South Division, which houses fresh-made pasta shop The Local Epicurean -- their first tenant for that property.
Dykstra is also manager of Nextwork Group, which will develop and manage the stretch of properties between Oakes and Cheery streets SE. He said developers' long-term plan is to create an "art and culinary corridor."
"Division used to be the retail corridor of downtown and all the studies the city has done over recent years has encouraged retail to come on the main floor of Division Street," Dykstra said. "Just recently as the economy started changing and more apartments are going up, more retailers are willing to come down here now. So it's becoming a really exciting place."
Harris Lofts hopes to have some of the new businesses open by the start of ArtPrize this year.
"We have a lot of permits to get to make sure everything is up to code and it's a lot of work to be done in a short period of time," Dykstra said.
Plans for 117 South Division include a doughnut shop called "Propaganda Doughnuts" and a ramen noodle shop -- the pasta for which will be made by The Local Epicurean two doors down.
The former home of DAAC will become a retail space and year-round art venue. In the short term, it is set to be open as a vendor for ArtPrize 2013 pending permits and approval.
Contractors are working on the Harris Building property now, preparing for an expansion to The Local Epicurean and the opening of a new restaurant.
The Local Epicurean intends to expand to include a chocolate and espresso bar featuring organic chocolates made by a chocolatier from Rome. The expansion is expected to open by late August.
Connected to Local Epicurean in the Harris Building will be an Italian themed restaurant. Upper levels will contain exhibit space that is already slated to be an ArtPrize 2013 venue and is expected to be mobile office space in the future.
The DAAC, which is just months shy of celebrating its 10th anniversary, has been a mainstay in the Grand Rapids art community for many years in the Heartside District.
"The vibe that most people would say is this is where all the punk kids come and bang their heads and have the time of their life," co-owner Mike Wolf said. "This really is a place where you can make it whatever you want it to be and that's how I fell in love with it."
With an inside stage and room to display art, the DAAC hosted low-cost shows for local and national bands. It has prided itself on being a venue open to anyone, regardless of race or economic background.
Wolf said the DAAC has had a good relationship with its landlord over the years and that he has been understanding when they've struggled to make rent. Wolf understands it's business, but it's still sad.
"It's kind of like when your parents get divorced. It's that feeling of nobody is getting hurt but just something that happens. It's life," he said.
The collective has canceled all events scheduled after July 29.
As for the future, DAAC organizers said that while they have to leave their current home, it won't be the end of the collective.
"We can assure you, this is not the end of the DAAC, nor is it by any means the end of our involvement in the all-ages [Do it together] community we have all worked so hard to cultivate here in Grand Rapids," the Facebook post said.
Wolf said money will be a main issue moving forward, as the organization pays rent by hosting shows.
DAAC organizers said the collective has hosted thousands of events and performances and has given thousands of dollars to community projects.
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