City commissioners focus on Downtown Market


Amy Ruis, principal at Aperitivo along with Kate Leeder, is awaiting a liquor license for their Downtown Market venture.

Just a day after its ribbon-cutting ceremony and a few days before its outdoor marketplace opened last Saturday, Grand Rapids city commissioners gave the Downtown Market’s newest indoor tenant a boost and also approved some streetscape improvements around the new $30 million facility.

Amy Ruis and Kate Leeder are the principals behind Aperitivo LLC. They plan to open a retail shop inside the market that features wines, beers, cheeses, meats and other types of food. They also plan to offer tastings of wine and beer, and to do that Aperitivo needs a liquor license. City commissioners approved their application last week for a liquor license that can only be offered within the Downtown Development Authority’s district, which includes 435 Ionia Ave. SW, the address of the market.

“It’s to be used for a wine-tasting bar at the Downtown Market,” said Mayor George Heartwell.

The license, which isn’t transferable, will cost Ruis and Leeder $20,000. The DDA approved their request last month, and the application now goes to the Liquor Control Commission for final approval.

Ruis also owns Art of the Table, a specialty gourmet food and beverage shop at 606 Wealthy St. SE. Leeder has worked at the store for the past six years. The partners are expected to spend about S230,000 to build out their space in the market.

Once the liquor license is approved in Lansing, Aperitivo will join Simpatico Coffee, Love’s Ice Cream, Crescent Floral & Gifts, Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Kettle Corn, Old World Olive Press and others as indoor tenants. That portion of the market, which has space for 24 vendors, is set to open later this summer.

Commissioners also approved a contract last week with the Michigan Department of Transportation that will result in streetscape improvements for Ionia Avenue from Buckley to Wealthy streets, for Logan Street from U.S. 131 to Division Avenue, and for McConnell Street from Ionia to Division avenues.

The project will involve installing new sidewalks, brick pavers, trees, ADA ramps, bike-lane signage, bike racks and other items such as ornamental streetlights. The work has been projected to cost $1.2 million, with the actual construction tab being estimated at $938,100. MDOT took bids for the project late last week.

Nearly $500,000 of that total is coming from a federal transportation enhancement grant. The DDA is expected to allocate $300,000 to the project on Wednesday; another $400,000 is coming from a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority bond.

The authority issued a tax-increment financing bond worth $2.32 million in June of last year for street improvements surrounding the Downtown Market, which is being developed by the DDA and the Grand Action Committee.

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