Spring groundbreaking for downtown GR movie theater

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ground could be broken within the next three months on a $140 million development in Grand Rapids that includes downtown’s first movie theater in decades.

“We expect we’ll be breaking ground right around the end of first quarter this year, maybe in the very beginning of April,” J.D. Loeks, the president of Celebration! Cinema, said.

That puts the project known as Studio Park on track to open by the summer of 2019.

The development shaping up to be the biggest privately funded project to go up in Grand Rapids and continues to move downtown revitalization to the south. Studio Park will be built on what’s currently a city parking lot south of Van Andel Arena.

On Wednesday, developers announced the 164 Canopy by Hilton hotel portion of Studio Park. Along with the hotel, it will include residential, retail and office space, along with a 950-space parking ramp and a public plaza.

At the heart of the development is a nine-screen movie theater. It represents a homecoming of sorts for Loeks, whose family opened its first theater downtown in 1944. As people moved to the suburbs in the ’60s and ’70s, movie theaters followed, leaving downtown without a movie screen for decades.

But what goes around comes around, and people are rediscovering downtown. Loeks said that after 20 years of talk, the time is right to bring movies back downtown.

“Now, between the amount of hotels and apartments and other uses that are happening downtown, we think that there’s enough infrastructure there to support a theater,” he said.

Phase two of the project would add a residential tower. Loeks said that depending on the downtown housing market, that could come along as early as 2024.

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