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A rendering of Special Occasions’ outdoor seating area at a new venue planned at 846 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW. A rendering of Special Occasions’ outdoor seating area at a new venue planned at 846 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW. COURTESY OF PURE ARCHITECTS

Event services company plans 145-person venue in GR’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood

BY Tuesday, July 12, 2022 09:12am

GRAND RAPIDS — An event rental and planning business plans to expand its offerings in Grand Rapids by opening a 2,200-square-foot event space in the city’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood. 

In an effort to meet surging demand for event venues, Special Occasions LLC plans to open the event space in an existing building at 846 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW southwest of downtown and next to its current storefront. The company rents chairs, linens and centerpieces for a range of events including weddings and corporate events. 

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission is set to consider a special land use permit for the event space at its Thursday meeting. 

The first phase of renovation work has been completed, and the venue expects to open at the beginning of 2023. 

“We love our role in the events industry, and now it’s fun to reach into new aspects of events,” said Special Occasions owner Jamie Carnes. “We’re excited about the location itself. It’s all part of the redevelopment corridor and it’s a wonderful neighborhood near so many other things happening. We’re excited to be part of all that’s building up in that space.”

The future venue would be just north of another redevelopment at 900 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW, where the co-owner of Supermercado Mexico grocery store plans to invest $4.1 million in a vacant property for retail and office space, as MiBiz previously reported.

The Special Occasions space would have a 145-person capacity for a wide range of events, Carnes said. Weekends would likely focus on weddings while more corporate events would likely take place during the week, she said.

Special Occasions is about 15 years old and changed ownership about five years ago to Carnes and her business partner, Keri Kujala. Special Occasions also has a location in Grand Blanc. This is the company’s first foray into operating an event venue, but Carnes has prior experience running a venue before she took over Special Occasions, she said.

“The words ‘pent-up demand’ (for weddings and events) seems like it’s not strong enough of an explanation for the tidal wave that has occurred,” Carnes said. “We had to get creative with our business over the last two yeras, but then the faucet was turned on full blast overnight and it truly did not stop. There used to be an ebb and flow to events, but we haven’t seen that this year — it’s been nonstop. There has been zero downtime.”

Special Occasions is now in the process of interviewing and hiring additional employees to staff the event space. Walker-based Pure Architects serves as the project designer.

“We want to make sure we have a highly diverse team of people and vendors involved in all arenas — women, minorities and LGBTQ. We’re finishing up that process now,” Carnes said. “We will continue working in the neighborhood and partnering with local businesses as well.”

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