New business

Downtown Grand Rapids is ‘exploding’ with new businesses

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Retail in downtown Grand Rapids has grown exponentially since 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation.

Data from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. shows that for every downtown business that closed last year, about two businesses opened downtown.

Richard App, a retail, retention and attraction specialist in Grand Rapids, says interest keeps him busy.

“I think there’s this misconception that things don’t move forward and you know, they explode,” he said.

In addition to new places like the ArtRat gallery, periwinkle fog, Great wine, Brooklyn Bodega Bagel & Delicatessen and K-ROK Korean BBQ and Karaoke, App has listed seven more businesses that are gearing up to open in the next three months. Among them are restaurants at the service of the EgyptianVietnamese and Japanese Fusion washing up.

The app says they fill more than vacant spaces downtown.

“What I like is not just the new restaurants, but the broad base of diversity that we have. It’s awesome. They fill a void we have in our food scene,” he said.

Gazelle Sports will celebrate its downtown opening with a “fun race” on April 30 that will temporarily close the Monroe Center, according to App.

Additionally, App expects GR atmosphere take a big step in the coming weeks when he opens his kitchen to start serving food.

“Downtown is bustling in a really cool way and it’s fun to see all these new businesses,” App said.

He says more new businesses are on the horizon, such as a martini bar, an Indian restaurant and a Mediterranean restaurant. These landlords have signed letters of intent but have yet to lock their leases.

The app says the growth is fueled by more people coming to Grand Rapids. Between 2010 and 2020, the city’s population grew by more than 10,000 to just under 199,000, shows a US Census Bureau report.

The largest demographic moving downtown is people between the ages of 25 and 29, according to App. the Census estimates nearly 22% of the city’s population fell into this age group in 2019.

As a Grand Rapids resident, App says it’s exciting, both professionally and personally, to see his city grow after two tough years.

“It’s really cool to see all of this happen considering…we’ve been through some tough times, but people are ready to come out,” he said.

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