Charter House Innovations, the developers of City Flats Hotel, is expanding its footprint to include a nearby second-story ballroom and event space at 77 Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids. Renovations on the site are currently underway.
The company opened the downtown business district's first boutique style hotel last year, after launching its hotel concept in Holland in 2008. While the Holland hotel does offer a place for small gatherings, there is no room dedicated for larger, private events.
Once completed, the Grand Rapids event space will include a commercial kitchen and capacity for more than 200 guests.
With the addition of the ballroom in Grand Rapids, the group hopes to broaden its offerings to a larger market.
Katie Madonio, marketing director for City Flats, said the hotel wants to capitalize on the uniqueness of the space and its vintage appeal, with weddings and corporate events as its focus.
"Not only is it a great location, but the space itself is very distinct," she said. "It wasn't originally in the plan, but it is a good next step for (the hotel)."
Madonio said the ballroom, formerly the lobby of the National Bank building, has a number of original details the hotel group wants to bring back to life. The hotel wants to keep the antique marble columns and grand staircase along with the intricate woodwork — classic touches that are somewhat of a departure from the slick, modern lines and exposed brick of the guest rooms.
Major changes include new coats of paint and new carpet. The total cost of the remodel is $500,000 for the 6,000-square-foot space.
The addition also puts City Flats into competition with the recently renovated ballroom and event space at the Amway Grand Plaza as well as the J.W. Marriot and area country clubs. However, City Flats offers a very different ambiance compared to the more traditional event spaces, Madonio said.
The smaller scale lends itself to more intimate gatherings, but still has that vibrant heart of Grand Rapids feel, she added.
"The Ballroom @ City Flats Hotel" is expected to be ready for events by the end of September.
With the business having officially wrapped its first year in Grand Rapids, City Flats is finally to a point where it can begin to assess what the group was able to accomplish last year, Madonio said.
"The business is doing very well," she said. "With the addition of the ballroom, we can expect that trend to move upward."
Madonio said the addition of the ballroom shouldn't affect room rates, which typically run between $130 and $200 per night depending on the season.
The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority helped get the concept started by awarding the project a total of $120,000 in grants to the building's owner — Hinman Company — and City Flats.
Specific improvements include adding barrier-free restrooms for handicapped access, a fire suppression system and a fire rated stair tower.
The architect on the project is Grand Rapids-based Craig Architects Inc.