Objections to proposed West Side bar, beer garden

A rendering of The Sovengard bar and beer garden on Grand Rapids' West Side. (May 28, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the restaurant owners hoping to add to the boom on Grand Rapids’ West Side will have to wait after the city’s planning commission tabled discussions on the project due to concerns from neighbors.

Thursday, Richard Muschiana presented plans to the Planning Commission for a proposed 250-guest restaurant and beer garden called The Sovengard.

A rendering of The Sovengard bar and barden on Grand Rapids' West Side. (May 28, 2015)
(A rendering of The Sovengard bar and beer garden.)

Operating out of the basement of a building on Bridge Street NW at Broadway Avenue, the Sovengard would have seating inside for 99 people and seasonal seating outside for 124.

The outdoor section would be 70 percent green, with a beautiful garden that Muschiana says would transform an area recently filled with litter and even a stolen car into a unique area for the community to enjoy. Old shipping containers would be recycled to serve as the bar and storage areas for the beer garden.

>>Online: Proposal for The Sovengard (PDF)

But the plan was not without opposition. The packed house at the Thursday afternoon Planning Commission meeting was filled with neighbors who were not afraid to voice their concerns.

The site at the corner of Bridge Street and Broadway Avenue NW in Gran Rapids where a New Holland Brewing Co. will be built. (April 15, 2015)
(The site at the corner of Bridge Street and Broadway Avenue NW where a New Holland Brewing Co. will be built.)

They’re worried about having too many bars and breweries within two city blocks — there would be seven including others going in and the proposed Sovengard. One neighbor called it the “Barmuda Triangle.”

Most opponents took issue with the plan to have live outdoor music and the noise that would cause. One neighbor likened the noise to “a neighbor having Fourth of July parties every night of the week all summer long.”

There were also worries about increased traffic and a lack of parking in the area.

The Planning Commission tabled the proposal for the time being, giving Muschiana a chance to address some of the main concerns before they’ll hear the proposal again on June 25.

Muschiana says he has an aggressive plan to get his project done and wants it to be up and running by the end of the summer, before ArtPrize, so he can unveil it “to the world.”

While he’s disappointed a decision was not made at Thursday’s meeting, he said it does not change his timetable.

“I don’t think this is derailing it at all. I think there was some positive dialogue that happened there. Certainly, we want to listen to the residents of the area and work in harmony and collaboration with them,” Muschiana said.

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