KALAMZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A new event center is opening in downtown Kalamazoo.

Crews are putting the finishing touches on The Desenberg, which is set to open next week at 251 E Michigan Ave. near Edwards Street. It was created in response to event centers closing due to COVID-19, Rachel Krasinski, the director of operations for Treystar’s hospitality division, said.

“The Desenberg Event Center was created to fill a need in Kalamazoo for the downtown area. After COVID happened, a lot of the event centers that were down here closed and they haven’t reopened,” she explained.

Crews work on The Desenberg in downtown Kalamazoo. (Sept. 29, 2023)
Crews work on The Desenberg in downtown Kalamazoo. (Sept. 29, 2023)

She said the event center will host weddings, corporate events and social events like birthday parties.

The historic building was built in 1886 and designed by architect Louis Sullivan. The event center’s name is a nod to the store originally in the building, the Desenberg Grocery Company.

“It’s important that we continue to honor where Kalamazoo started and where it is now and where it’s going to be 10, 20 years from now,” Krasinski said. “So having this name be able to tie and connect together the roots to the vision that it is now and will be in the future, I think is super important.”

Throughout its history, the building has been a home improvement store, a sporting goods store and a bank, according to the event center’s website.

A Huntington Bank branch was in the space until 2019. 

  • Crews work on The Desenberg in downtown Kalamazoo. (Sept. 29, 2023)
  • Crews work on The Desenberg in downtown Kalamazoo. (Sept. 29, 2023)
  • Crews work on The Desenberg in downtown Kalamazoo. (Sept. 29, 2023)

Treystar, the company behind the project, started working on renovating the building more than a year ago. The around $2 million project included quite a lot of demolition and removing a concrete safe, Krasinski said.

Crews turned the building into an open-floor space, with bathrooms, a lounge and a catering kitchen. It connects to Treystar’s plaza in the back and an atrium, which are available as add-ons for the event space.

They also put a big emphasis on technology, Krasinski said. A four-panel, 10.5-foot-tall and 21-foot-wide screen with rear projection can be used for things like video, presentations or a seating chart. It can also be used as a whiteboard.

  • The Desenberg's 10.5-foot-tall, 21-foot-wide screen, which will have four panels once completed.
  • A rendering of The Desenberg with its four-panel screen. (Courtesy Treystar)

The plaza, which was developed a few years ago, has 3-D projection mapping.

As it gets ready to open, Brooke Mulder, the sales and events coordinator for the event space, has already done several tours. She said it already has some corporate holiday events booked, and the first wedding will take place in November.

She said the space’s “industrial chic” color scheme of white with wood makes it versatile. The Desenberg’s 8-foot banquet tables are made of solid wood and handmade in Wisconsin.

Brides have particularly liked the lounge, she said, which can be used as a private space to get ready for bridal parties.

For more information, go to desenbergevents.com.