The B.O.B. plans new biergarten, marketplace and concert venue


A rendering of The B.O.B.’s expansion on the adjacent parking lot. Courtesy The Gilmore Collection

After years of planning, The Gilmore Collection announced Monday it will expand its 70,000 square foot dining and entertainment facility, The Big Old Building, by another 62,000 square feet.

The B.O.B., a four-story structure at 20 Monroe Ave. NW, has been a downtown destination since 1997, and the Gilmores will have the expansion project done over two stages.

The work will be done on the 50 Monroe Place parking lot that is adjacent to The B.O.B., which annually attracts 700,000 diners and partiers. The entire expansion is expected to be completed by June 2014.

“The B.O.B. helped re-establish downtown Grand Rapids as a destination for dining and entertainment, but a lot has changed in the 16 years since we opened our doors,” said Greg Gilmore, managing partner of The Gilmore Collection.

“Our vision for the next phase of The B.O.B. includes year round outdoor activities, a high-quality venue where national and regional acts can perform, a biergarten and new restaurant offering our house made craft beers and dining options that reflect more modern tastes,” he added.

Gilmore said the expansion is a multi-million dollar project that will create a new outdoor festival marketplace, including the biergarten he referred to, as part of a 40,000 square foot outdoor piazza.

The work will also deliver a two story, 22,000 square foot event and concert venue that can seat 1,500, with standing room for 500 more.

The renovation’s first phase will expand the ground-floor space across from the Van Andel Arena that had been Gilly’s with a new casual offering that will feature The B.O.B. Brewery’s craft beers, fresh oysters and a variety of other cuisine selections. The area will also have outdoor seating. The yet-to-be-named restaurant is expected to open July 1.

The B.O.B.’s other dining and entertainment areas — including Dr. Grins Comedy Club, Judson’s, Eve and Crush — will remain open during the construction’s first stage.

Phase two work will get started in October after ArtPrize and result in the concert and event venue, the biergarten and piazza. The venue will host private parties and public events. The biergarten and piazza will offer kiosks that food vendors and other product makers can rent.

In 2006, the Gilmores secured an option to purchase 29,000 square feet of the parking lot from the city for $55 a square foot. The option was extended in 2009 and again last September.

“A lot has changed since we first designed The B.O.B. in the 1990s, but the desire to share good food, drinks and entertainment with our friends has not,” Gilmore said. “This evolution of The B.O.B. will allow us to continue to be a destination from which anyone can begin and end their exploration of the city.” 

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