GRAND RAPIDS — Following a recently completed $1 million renovation of The Big Old Building, the Gilmore Partnership revealed last week that it intends to expand The BOB by 12,000 square feet for a 1,200-seat theater.
Gilmore Partnership President Gregory Gilmore said the theater would show movies and also be used for concerts, dinner-theater events, lectures and meetings.
The Gilmores hope to build the addition on a city-owned parking lot just north of the century-old building located at 20 Monroe NW. Tenants of 50 Monroe Place, a downtown office structure, park in the lot during business hours. Gilmore said Michael McDaniels, who manages 50 Monroe Place, supported the effort.
Parking Services Director Ted Perez told parking commissioners last week that the proposed project would mean a loss of about 25 of the lot’s 70 spaces. But he added that displaced parkers could move across the street to the Ottawa Fulton ramp for the same monthly cost.
“From our perspective, we feel this is a very welcome proposal,” said Perez, who added that the Gilmores told him they would like to start the project this year.
Parking commissioners also gave their “general support” to the expansion project, but said that they need more information on the project. Topping their list were details of the project’s financing and the timetable for construction.
“We’ve always felt that a surface parking lot is a good place for development,” said Jack Hoffman, parking commission chairman.
The city plans to have the property appraised, and city commissioners would have to approve any sale to the Gilmores.
The Gilmore Partnership finished renovating the exterior and interior of The BOB last fall. The work added another 5,000 square feet of public space to the structure and created a new second-floor deck, a club called Crush and the Monkey Bar. The 70,000-square-foot, four-story building opened in 1903 as a grocery warehouse. The Gilmores turned the building into a dining and entertainment complex in 1996.