ADA — After observing the revitalization of the Ada Village Business District, outdoor retailer Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus is expanding in the suburban community with a new 3,669-square-foot store.
The store, dubbed Beyond by Bill & Paul’s, is slated to open in the spring at 551 Settlers Drive, one of several new businesses that have recently announced moves or expansions in the village.
“We’ve been interested in the idea of a second location for Bill & Paul’s for a while now, and when we saw what was happening in Ada Village, the rejuvenation of the Ada Village Business District, we decided we wanted to take a look at it,” said Scott Gorsline, senior vice president of Grand Rapids-based DP Fox Holdings LLC. The holding company for Dan DeVos and Pamella DeVos acquired Bill & Paul’s from its founders in 2016.
Redevelopment of the village center, a $13 million public-private project, began in 2015 and significantly expanded retail, residential and restaurant offerings in Ada. The first phase of that project, realigning Headley Avenue, has been completed.
The redevelopment stems from a series of more than 100 meetings and forums launched in 2013 involving feedback from Ada Township officials, business owners, residents and visitors to clarify the vision for the village that the community originally set in 2006.
Direct-selling giant Amway Corp., a major property owner in the village, has been a key partner in the project.
“We’re finally in the state where the new section on River Street is being built up so that we’re having all these wonderful storefronts and retail opportunities that are available now,” said Kindell Rerucha, president of the board of directors for the Ada Business Association.
Brody’s Be Café, a coffee shop with a focus on training and employing people with intellectual disabilities, recently held a grand opening at its new location at 7267 Thornapple River Drive SE. ITS Partners LLC, a firm specializing in I.T. management, also moved into the village in September with a new location at 496 Ada Drive.
Executives at ITS Partners said in a statement that Ada Village “checked off every box” because of its location and abundance of restaurants and parks within walking distance. The company will bring 65 employees to the 12,000-square-foot office building, which was built by First Companies Inc. and designed by Dixon Architecture.
Meanwhile, tech firm Michigan Software Labs LLC expects to nearly double its headcount as part of an $840,000 expansion and 7,500-square-foot addition at its location at 452 Ada Drive. The company employs 28 software developers, and plans to add another 27 people over the next few years as part of the expansion.
Another business, Pursuit Gift Shop, is opening this month also at 496 Ada Drive. The shop specializes in greeting cards, stationery and other gifts. It will relocate from its studio on Monroe Center Street in downtown Grand Rapids.
“I am excited to take this next step and grow Pursuit in a larger space in the thriving Ada Village,” Pursuit owner Abby Fowler said in a statement. “Ada is becoming a destination for niche attractions and group activities, and Pursuit will add to that reputation with calligraphy and other crafting classes, plus private craft parties in a more permanent workshop area.”
While there is growth, the ongoing construction has been difficult for some businesses. Take-out restaurant Saburba closed in 2017, with the owners blaming the move on disruptions caused by ongoing construction along Thornapple River Drive. Village retail anchor Kingma’s Market, which had operated at 444 Ada Drive SE, closed about 18 months after it opened. Byron Center-based SpartanNash Co. opened its Ada Fresh Market by Forest Hills Foods store in that location in April.
Ada Township officials hope the redevelopment will lead to more economic development opportunities for the village. With more workers and customers to patronize retail spaces and a growing inventory of new second-floor office spaces in the business district, the area is becoming a destination and a walkable community, according to Township Supervisor George Haga.
In addition to new buildings, Ada Township also is revamping Settlers Grove Riverfront Park, an integral part of the overall redevelopment. Construction is also underway on the Amy Van Andel Library and Community Center on Headley Street.
Township officials continue to assess how residential components can be added to the redevelopment in anticipation that it will entice more people to live in the community. They’re also focusing on connectivity and mobility issues.
“That’s a piece we are working on, the connectivity of getting to the village from other areas of the township, whether by trails or to the point where people can ride their bikes into the village,” Haga said.
According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Ada Township has grown in population by slightly more than 12 percent since 2010.
Rerucha at the Ada Business Association expects this growth to continue.
“Just in the past two years, we have seen many additional households that have relocated to the village of Ada,” she said. “It’s a very desirable community to both live and work in, and I think we’re going to see a lot of continued growth.
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