DeVos Hall Renovation Approved

    GRAND RAPIDS — The Convention and Arena Authority gave its blessing to an interior renovation of DeVos Performance Hall last week, a project that was started by the private sector and will be paid for by the same group.

    The hall, home to the city’s four arts tenants and an integral part of the new DeVos Place convention center, will get a $4.4 million facelift. Work will begin in June and will take three months to complete.

    The Grand Action Committee initiated the project and held a fundraising drive that came up with the necessary dollars to pay for it. In all, Grand Action raised $5 million for the work that will refurbish the seating, add new finishes to the walls and ceiling, install the infrastructure for a multi-media sound system, and put in new light fixtures. The restrooms will also be upgraded.

    “This plan elevates the DeVos Performance Hall interior so it is consistent with the new lobby and with DeVos Place as a whole,” said David Frey, a CAA board member and co-chairman of Grand Action with John Canepa and Dick DeVos.

    “Thanks to the generosity and foresight of our lead donors and several other generous members of this community, this entire renovation is being funded with private dollars,” added Frey.

    The project’s lead gift came from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, which also gave the lead private-sector gift to the construction of the $212 million DeVos Place. Other major gifts came from the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation, the Wege Foundation, the Frey Foundation, Fred and Lena Meijer, Chuck and Stella Royce, and Stan and Margaret Chef. The amounts of each gift were not revealed.

    “It’s a wonderful thing that has happened here,” said Mayor John Logie, chairman of the CAA, as he credited Grand Action for its generosity.

    This latest fundraising activity lifts the private sector’s commitment to the new facility to $38 million, as Grand Action earlier raised $33 million for the DeVos Place construction fund. Grand Action will begin making seven months worth of payments to the building account of roughly $4.5 million each month starting in October. The organization is made up of 250 people in business, education, health and human services, labor and religion.

    Progressive AE will design the renovation, the same firm that co-designed DeVos Place. Erhardt-Hunt will serve as the project’s construction manager; the firm also is directing the construction of DeVos Place.

    Half of the $4.4 million will go toward direct building costs, while $750,000 will be spent on upgrading the seats. Another $310,000 will be invested in the necessities for a new sound system. The system isn’t needed yet, so about $500,000 will be held in reserve for when it is needed. The rest of the money will pay for architectural and consultant services, and go to a 12.5 percent contingency fund. The interior renovation is the first major upgrade of DeVos Hall, which opened 25 years ago.

    “The bulk of the construction will happen from June 1 to Sept. 1 in 2004,” said Dale Sommers, CAA representative on the convention center project.

    The exhibit space at DeVos Place opens in early December for its first convention.

    “We fully expect that we will be opening on time for the woodworkers’ show,” said Joe Erhardt, president of Erhardt Construction.

    The entire convention center project should be finished in January 2005.

    “We are on budget,” said Frey, who also chairs the CAA Building Committee. “We are on time.”  

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