GRAND RAPIDS — A local development group has proposed plans to activate Grand Rapids Public Schools’ long-vacant West Leonard Elementary facility.
1351 Leonard LLC, an affiliate of Cherry Street Capital LLC, wants to develop an event and banquet venue for the site at 1351 Leonard St. NW on the city’s northwest side.
Developers believe the historic building is an ideal location for an event venue as it provides space to host wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours and receptions under one roof, and will have 104 off-street parking spaces. The venue will enable developers to respond to demand for such a facility, according to an application to the Grand Rapids Planning Commission, which approved a special land use for the property at its meeting on Thursday.
Commissioners briefly discussed the developers’ plans to host live music on a proposed outdoor terrace at the venue, ultimately deciding to move forward as long as the music was not amplified.
“We don’t want to restrict (music outdoors),” said Chad Barton, a member of 1351 Leonard LLC and partner at Cherry Street Capital. “We don’t want to restrict having a quartet out there.”
Barton said GRPS has already supported the proposal, and developers are under contract to acquire the site. They do not propose major structural changes to the outside of the building.
Licensed caterers would serve food, beverages and alcohol at the site, and events will be managed onsite by the management team that operates The Cheney Place, another wedding and event venue in Grand Rapids, according to the Planning Commission application.
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