So, it is overdue that we update you on the status of this project.
We started this project over a year and a half ago because we wanted to create street food culture in Grand Rapids. Food trucks aren’t allowed in the capacity they should be, so building small, fixed units circumvented the zoning laws while still providing small, affordable space for retail entrepreneurs. Putting these entrepreneurs in the same space created a destination, making the experience like that of a foreign street market and we truly believe that would be absolutely awesome for Grand Rapids.
Unfortunately, building infrastructure, like INTERMODAL (and like-markets) is very difficult. The economics from a developer standpoint were always shaky to begin with, which makes raising private capital difficult.
We aren’t done yet, but we have taken a few steps back to re-strategize.
In the meantime, myself, Nicolas Mika and my business partner Mike Dykstra decided that If we couldn’t create the infrastructure for street food, then we would at least go create street food. We purchased a cafe about 6 months in Norton Shores called the The Coffee House and Cafe. Matt Varley, from the 616 restaurant in the JW, joined us as the chef and we have since acquired a food truck and are wrapping up another cafe purchase in Grand Haven.
We just introduced a concept in the cafe called Street Food Saturdays. Each week, we transport you to a different part of the world by crafting popular street food dishes. Our first weekend was 2 weeks ago and we did Mexican Fusion and I’m excited to say we sold out. This weekend we’re turning the cafe into a french creperie! So, if you get a chance to make it out here, we promise to make it worth your trip.
In the meantime, thank you Grand Rapids for all of your support so far for INTERMODAL. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress.
Creating the best possible experience for our customers has driven every decision we’ve made to date. As developers, we have two customer segments.
1. Daily traffic/marketgoers
The right mix of quality tenants with valuable offerings will create the best experience for marketgoers, which in turn, increases traffic thus sales for our tenants. When they do well, the project is successful.
Compared to urban business districts, suburban shopping and strip malls, INTERMODAL is a smaller than average retail development. We’re fitting a lot of businesses into a small (6,000 sq ft) footprint which is why the right mix is so important.
Regardless of the many interested food entrepreneurs we have for the space, and we love you all, we decided to scale back on the number of food offerings available in the market and increase the retail percentage. This will give Eastown residents and visitors more shopping opportunities and you’ll be able to eat some delicious food while you do it
We’ve been in conversation with some amazing retail tenants for the space. If you feel INTERMODAL is the right place for you and your business, get at us. Let’s talk.
So, check this out:
We’ve been playing with an idea for the past few months and want to get your feedback.
We’re thinking of creating a space within the market called Storefront, which provides an already built environment for retail entrepreneurs to test their concept with minimal investment and commitment.
Housed in 320 square feet in the middle of the market, Storefront is a built out store, complete with shelving, a POS system, customizable furniture, branding and lot’s of potential customers.
Say you start a clothing line, or have dreams to start a specialty store, or own a store somewhere else and want to do a popup in the Market, you can lease out Storefront for up to 90 days and take the materials there and make it your own “Storefront”. Try it out. If it’s a smashing success, then you can move into a permanent space. Or whatever.
We think having Storefront in the Market would allow start ups and other creative organizations with low capital access to flex space legally and at low cost without needing to rent a more permanent place, making the city & Market a good locale for retail start-ups.
What do you think? What would you like to have as part of the space? It can also help with the valuable intangibles like mentoring & support from successful entrepreneurs etc.
We’ve been super busy behind the scenes over the past few months on our quest to find interesting people that can cook the hell out of some food. So we ventured into some weird kitchens and neighborhoods of West Michigan, talking with chefs, entrepreneurs and a few random folks while trying to uncover the gems so we can bring them into the market.
Let’s just say that Eastown will soon be the place to find the best damn street food in Michigan.
The project also got bigger and way more awesome, but that’s all the details about that I can give out right now
Here’s a sneak peek into the site plan…
- Year round street market
- 30+ containers
- Huge garden/courtyard
- 10+ eateries & shops
stay tuned for more soon!
Nicolas Mika from Project Intermodal, caught up with the nice folks over at OpenIdeo to talk inspiration, planning and more.
“On OpenIDEO we celebrate that our community members can join our challenges in whatever way works best for them: from adding content and comments, to reading posts and getting inspired. Nicolas Mika is an example of a community member for whom the Vibrant Cities Challenge planted an inspiring and important seed – one that’s led him to a new initiative he and his group are championing in Grand Rapids, Michigan called Intermodal.
Intermodal is a creative project aimed at transforming a vacant lot in Grand Rapids into a vibrant, urban cultural hub, one that could provide the infrastructure needed to enable entrepreneurs to experiment with new business concepts. Comprised of refurbished shipping containers, Intermodal will house local food producers, artists, or other merchants to showcase their products and connect locally with consumers.
We caught up with Nick to learn more about his efforts and how OpenIDEO inspired this new project:
Read the entire article
After almost two weeks of designing, brainstorming, and new events, Morrison’s Addition becomes Intermodal.
So what is Intermodal?
Intermodal is a word that refers to a type of shipping container that can be moved from one mode of transport to another without unloading and reloading the contents of the container. Intermodal is also a creative attempt to transform a vacant lot in Eastown into a semi-permanent market constructed from recycled intermodal shipping containers.
Also, Intermodal is not site specific. It could pop up anywhere and seemingly overnight become part of the fabric of your neighborhood. Transforming and developing one blighted, vacant property at a time. That’s the idea. We’re damn excited about it.
Huge thanks to Dylan and the cool dudes over at Nice for the design work, Ray Brown for last minute coding, Erwin Erkfitz for making the container pretty, Lamar Construction for helping with the buildout, and all of you for the love.
Container is downtown right now by the way. Madcap is serving coffee out of it to all the TEDxGrandRapids attendees. If you’re in attendance, say hello.