DDA doubles award to Gilda’s Club


For the second time this year, members of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority handed out some funny money, and this time it was a larger amount. And for the second time this year, those dollars went to Gilda’s Club for its annual celebration of laughter.

Back in February, the DDA awarded the second annual LaughFest $7,500. Last week, though, board members awarded the cancer-support organization $15,000 for its third LaughFest, which begins its 11-day run March 7.

The DDA’s money will support the public programming effort that Gilda’s Club undertakes for the event, and those dollars are coming from the board’s non-tax fund that gets most of its revenue from parking receipts.

Board members also awarded $3,000 to the Arena District, a coalition of downtown businesses, for its Mardi Gras celebration Feb. 13. Those funds will go toward the event’s music program and also come from the non-tax account.

The DDA also upped its financial support last week for Vue Design, a bridal design business that is relocating from MoDiv at 40 Monroe Center to the Peacock Building at 150 E. Fulton St. Last month, the board gave  the growing business a $9,500 Building Reuse grant to be used for the storefront’s build-out and a $500 grant to help pay for the cost of a sign.

But last week, the DDA raised the Building Reuse grant to $13,500 and bumped up the signage grant to $720. The change was made because Vue Design was incorrectly categorized as a professional services firm and not a retailer. Grants made to professional service companies are based on half of a firm’s eligible activities, while for retailers it’s 75 percent.

“As a retailer, Vue Design is eligible to have 75 percent of their eligible activities covered by the grants,” said DDA Executive Director Kristopher Larson.

DDA members also recommended that Grand Rapids Burger Inc. be awarded a Redevelopment Class C liquor license for its new Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger Tavern that it hopes to open in about four months at 241 W. Fulton St., also known as the Plaza Towers Building.

A redevelopment license costs $20,000 and can’t be transferred to another establishment in the district. City commissioners have to approve the application. If they do that, the application will go to the state’s Liquor Control Commission for final approval.

The downtown Bagger Dave’s is the third casual restaurant-and-bar franchise GR Burger will have in the metro area. The others are in Cascade Township and Grandville. The company also has one in Holland. Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc. owns Bagger Dave’s and franchises the business.

GR Burger is a wholly owned subsidy of AMC Burgers Inc., which owns the intellectual property rights to the chain. AMC Burgers is a wholly owned subsidiary of Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc., which launched the business in 2008. There are currently 10 Bagger Dave’s in Michigan.

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