Building Steeped in Grand Rapids History Secures Necessary Financing to Finish Renovations

Downtown’s Harris Building, home to ArtPrize exhibits, will soon complete second and third floor venue space

The iconic Harris Building in Grand Rapids’ Heartside district is almost finished renovating its multi-faceted, loft-style venue. However, up until just a few months ago, financing obstacles prevented the developer from fully realizing the vision he had for the historic building.

Owner and developer of the Harris Building, Harris Lofts LLC, is making it a home for art, culture, music, film, fine food and more. Downtown visitors have enjoyed the downtown market and cooking classes The Local Epicurean offers on the first floor of the building, as well as the art gallery and event space The Renaissance Club offers; but now the second and third floors can permanently host some of Grand Rapids’ trendiest events, displays and exhibits.

Thanks to a recently formed partnership with Develop Michigan, Inc. (DMI), the historic Harris building will be preserved and repurposed for Grand Rapids residents, artists and visitors alike. DMI is a nonprofit development finance organization committed to revitalizing Michigan communities through commercial real estate investments.

Since late 2013, DMI has invested in metropolitan and rural downtowns, including Detroit, Royal Oak, Milan and Alma, and is looking at multiple opportunities across the state. The Harris Building is the first investment DMI has made in West Michigan – with more in the works.

“Develop Michigan is thrilled to be a team player in the Harris Building revitalization and preservation,” said DMI President, Rick Laber. “Even before fully complete, Grand Rapids residents and visitors have flocked to the iconic space for one-of-a-kind cultural experiences. It will be fascinating to see where community leaders and activists take things next.”

ArtPrize exhibits have made the Harris Building their home for the past two years, but now the space can be utilized as a year-round venue for the arts and more. Additionally, the master tenant, The Renaissance Club, plans to offer art and music classes as well as special events such as a dinner theater and dance club.

“It is fantastic to see a Michigan company partner with a local developer to push The Harris Building renovations over the finish line,” President & CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Kristopher Larson said. “The Harris Building has been an integral part of the Heartside District’s revitalization and with financing complete, thanks to Develop Michigan, revitalization efforts have been bolstered even more in the neighborhood.”

Originally built in 1892, the Harris building was first home to the secret fraternal organization the Knights of Pythias. Following, it was home to several furniture companies. Since the late 2000’s and the transformation of the Heartside neighborhood becoming the “Avenue for the Arts,” the Harris building has been host to special events as well as pop-up stores.