GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gazelle Sports is one step closer to moving into downtown Grand Rapids.

It took the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority about four minutes Wednesday morning to hear and approve a retail grant for Gazelle Sports. The company will get up to $67,000 in support to lease a storefront on Monroe Center between Ionia and Division avenues.

Gazelle Sports says its new downtown store will offer running and athletic merchandise, programming and events, including free community runs/walks, injury prevention clinics, race training and fundraisers. The company says the new store will employ up to 13 people and serve as a hub for community events, including the She Runs Grand Rapids races.

(A photo provided by Gazelle Sports shows women participating in a race supported by the company.)

“Our team was abuzz about what we can do downtown… how many runs can we have a week, and what groups we’re going to bring in. So to be able to activate downtown and be a part of the community here is a dream,” Gazelle Sports CEO Jennifer Brummitt said, thanking city leaders. “We are excited about what’s ahead for Gazelle Sports and for downtown Grand Rapids.”

Gazelle Sports was founded in Kalamazoo in 1985 and currently operates five athletic shoe and apparel stores statewide. Retail Retention and Attraction Specialist Richard App said bringing Gazelle Sports to downtown Grand Rapids was a goal of his as soon as the city hired him in January 2020.

“We wanted to get some retail attraction downtown with a solid regional tenant, one that would have some draw in itself, but would also to the environment downtown. One of those businesses we targeted right away was Gazelle Sports,” he told the DDA.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s GR Forward Goal 4 Alliance backed the grant to Gazelle Sports last month.

“We needed a business like this that could spark additional investments into our downtown business community,” Goal 4 Alliance member Omar Cuevas said.

“Just tremendous people in that company so they’ll be a great partner downtown,” added Joe Agostinelli, executive director of the Grand Rapids Area Revitalization Task Force.

App told the Goal 4 group that Gazelle Sports’ newest store will take on a different format than its current locations in Kalamazoo, Holland and on 28th Street. Since the new space is smaller—approximately 3,552 square feet—Gazelle Sports is looking into more of a boutique-style concept with potential brand takeovers on certain days.

(A photo provided by Gazelle Sports shows a customer trying on a shoe at one of the company’s five stores.)

App has been working with Gazelle Sports for 6-8 months to identify the perfect spot downtown. The company plans to take over the storefront at 52 Monroe Center when Ali Nicole Bridal moves out at the end of February. App said the goal is to open Gazelle Sports’ downtown space by May 1, in time for River Bank Run and Fitness Fest.

Gazelle Sports’ lease in downtown Grand Rapids lasts for three years with an option to renew the contract for two more years.