New owners, plan for Cherry Street storefront in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The new owners of a Grand Rapids storefront have a new plan for the East Hills place.

Through Six Friends LLC, state Rep. David LaGrand and a couple of business partners bought the building at 959 Cherry St. SE near Diamond Avenue about five months ago, according to LaGrand.

“We like improving our neighborhood and we live five blocks away,” LaGrand said of himself and his wife.

(A conceptual rendering by Design Forum shows what 959 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids may look like after current renovations.)

The building houses two retail spaces. Gemini Handmade occupies the eastern portion of the building. The western part was previously home to Under the Vines, which closed earlier this year.

LaGrand said the owners of Gemini Handmade, who are also tenants of a residential building he owns, informed him about the previous building owner’s desire to sell.

(A conceptual rendering by Design Forum shows what 959 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids may look like after current renovations.)

LaGrand told News 8 last week that he and his business partners are in the midst of renovating the vacant space to cater to a coffeehouse, bar or bookstore that does not require a kitchen. He said he wants the new business to complement nearby breweries and restaurants, not compete with the businesses he visits weekly to order food.

“It’s part of the town we love,” he said.

LaGrand owns residential buildings, a construction company, a Canadian distillery and numerous LLCs. He’s also majority owner of Long Road Distillers.

Conceptual renderings for 959 Cherry St. SE include signage for Long Road Distillers. However, LaGrand said last week that there’s no signed deal with a tenant for the space so far.

(A conceptual rendering by Design Forum shows what 959 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids may look like after current renovations.)

LaGrand said he and his business partners plan to restore historical elements of the building, which was a gas station in the 1930s (Darling’s Super Service) and 1940s (Ruff’s Filling Station), according to Grand Rapids Public Library historian Tim Gloege.

So far, crews have removed stucco, re-exposed the building’s original façade and poured a new patio. The plans also call for installing skylights and large floor-to-ceiling windows. The new retail space would also include a pergola atop a fenced patio along Cherry Street.

The Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission conditionally approved the renovation plans during its Aug. 4 meeting. LaGrand said city officials approved their land use and development services permit on Oct. 15.

LaGrand says if all goes well, he hopes to have the space finished next February. Gemini Handmade will remain open during the construction process.

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