Field Notes: The BOB – Grand Rapids, Michigan

Isaac Kremer/ August 28, 2019/ Economic, Field Notes, placemaking, plaza, tactical urbanism/ 0 comments

The BOB – which stands for “Big Old Building” – is a go to social and entertainment venue in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have creatively repurposed the space with dining, indoor and outdoor entertainment, and the new 20 Monroe Live space for up to 2580 people.

The outdoor beer garden is more open than others we’ve seen and feels a little sparse with too few tables, too small trees, and some other key elements missing – like plantings and games. They’d be wise to take a cue from the Independence Beer Garden in Philly.

We noticed how the fairly standard picnic tables had curbs at the ends to limit bumps, bruises, and snags.

The Containment Bar and Nightclub creatively repurposes a shipping container for use as a bar. We’ve seen similar deployments before. Railing at the top is either for rooftop access and safety or to give the container a greater sense of height and presence in the space. Amazing how a railing on top of anything extends the building beneath.

The entrance has a fixed permanent canopy, fabric entrance canopy, LED marquee highlighting upcoming events, and a token strand of filament bulbs to signify this is a cool place and guiding people to the front door.

Here is a capture of the promotional text upon the opening of 20 Monroe Live in 2019:

Live Nation’s House of Blues Entertainment division and the Gilmore Collection are proud to present 20 Monroe Live–now open and rocking Grand Rapids on a regular basis! Concert attendees–don’t forget to take advantage of Pre and Post Concert Specials at one of The B.O.B.’s award winning venues.

The art deco retro interior is intended to create a comfortable environment reminiscent of America’s great clubs throughout the years. Full capacity of 2580 with scalable options of 1200, 1600, 2200. The venue is equipped with state-of-the-art sound, lights and production capabilities, and the building’s design lends itself to being one of the most user-friendly in the country for live music and special events.

20 Monroe Live has been designed with an eye for utilization for private events, corporate meetings, charity functions and festivals—all of which can be executed by Gilmore’s full-service, award-winning, on-site catering company, Gilmore Catering. The venue will also feature an intimate, beautiful VIP club with such amenities as private bar, open air patio and access to best seats in the house.

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About Isaac Kremer

A nationally recognized downtown revitalization leader, downtowns Isaac managed achieved $350 million of investment, 1,300 jobs created, and were 2X Great American Main Street Award Semifinalist and a 1X GAMSA winner in 2023. His work has been featured in Newsday, NJBIZ, ROI-NJ, TapInto, and USA Today. Isaac is a Main Street America Revitalization Professional (MSARP) with additional certifications from the National Parks Service, Project for Public Spaces, and the National Development Council.

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