Home/Tag: Grand Traverse Commons

Welcome Gallery Fifty

Gallery Fifty Mealtickets cardMealtickets Introduces Gallery Fifty to Traverse City Visitors

 

They started in a hallway at Building 50 in the Grand Traverse Commons, and have expanded to two beautiful art galleries in the heart of Traverse City. And now Gallery Fifty is one of the latest additions to the Mealtickets family of advertisers.

 

The art scene in thriving in Northern Michigan. So it’s no surprise that we have hundreds of local artisits and galleries to showcase their work. Gallery Fifty has managed to create two different collections — in two very unique locations — that represent not only local art but art from all fifty states. The original Gallery 50, housed in a 125 year old insane asylum, is fun, funky and eclectic. The new downtown location, formerly Belstone Gallery, rests along the Boardman river and could be described as contemporary and refined.

Both galleries carry the well-known Fordite jewelry by artist James Blanchard. These are one-of-a-kind pieces created from layers of automotive paint recycled from an old Ford plant in southern Michigan.

 

Each space is unique, as are the works of art you’ll find there. Stop in, say hi to Chrisitie and enjoy the beauty captured by artists from across the country. You can find more information, and a map to each of Gallery Fifty’s locations, on our Attractions page. Visit them online at www.galleryfifty.com.

The Village: Behind the Scenes Tour with Ray Minervini

hometown highlights The Village graphic

Hometown Highlights: The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Building 50 The Village at Grand Traverse CommonsDid you know…the entire campus at the old Traverse City State Hospital, one million square feet of brick, wood and stone, was built from the ground up in less than 2 years? There’s 400,000 square feet of space in Building 50 alone! That’s an architectural feat that must have taken an army. And that’s just one of the amazing facts I learned from Ray Minervini, developer of The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, on my recent behind-the-scenes tour.

 

When I was in high school, here in Traverse City, the old State Hospital was shut down and abandoned. The grounds became a destination for vandals and daredevils who returned with stories of ghosts, eerie tunnels and mysterious bumps in the night. It was sad to see the such a huge piece of Traverse City history disappearing into the landscape as new developments surrounded it on all sides. Most of us just drove past the big stone pyramid on Division street and barely wondered about the towering structures that lie dormant behind the tall pines.

And then came Ray Minervini. He had a vision of a thriving community, reminiscent of European cities where people worked, ate, entertained and lived together in the presence of history. Now the site that was built in 1885 to house the mentally insane has begun a transformation into this vibrant hub of arts and culture just as Ray imagined.

Other than a few cups of coffee at Cuppa Joe, and special dinners at Stella, I hadn’t spent much time on the new Village campus until I met Bryan Ulbrich of Left Foot Charley when they became a Mealtickets client in 2007. He had begun transforming the old Laundry facility into the winery and tasting room for Left Foot Charley. The image that stands out in my mind was a 2′ heaping pile of faucet handles leftover from the mazes of underground plumbing they removed during reconstruction. It was this salvation of the old, amidst plans for something new, that piqued my curiousity.

Which brings me to my recent tour with Ray. Beaming at the success of the Traverse City Wine Festival this summer on the grounds in front of Building 50, I asked Ray Minervini if he would take me on a behind the scenes tour this fall. "We’ll work our way from the bottom, to the top," he promised. I was determined to make sure he kept his word, and did he ever.

 

From the Bottom

Building 50 at The Village of Grand Traverse CommonsThe Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a 500 acre site located in the heart of Traverse City. That’s right, 500 acres, over 400 of which are parkland. Ray likes to call it, "Traverse City’s central park." The former asylum campus occupies 60 acres. And Building 50, the central building with the red spires, is over 400,000 square feet. Ray and I began the tour at the bottom, in what’s called the Mercato of Building 50.

 

The Mercato in Building 50 at The VillageJust below ground level on the south side of Building 50 lies the Mercato. At one end is Stella, a fabulous Italian restaurant and one of the first tennants of The Village. I met Ray outside the elevators at the far end of the building. Just around the corner from Stella, as we entered the Mercato, I noticed there’s a small gallery exhibiting before & after images of the redeveloped spaces as well as artifacts discovered during renovation. It’s a great place to stop and appreciate all the work they’ve done so far.

 

The Mercato in Building 50 in The VillageThe Mercato is the main shopping venue at The Village, with everything from art and fashion to wine and gelato. The long hallway opens up on each side with arched open doorways leading into each space. Vendors goods extend out into the hallway which is lined with an ever changing exhibition of art. Unlocking a non-descript door in the Mercato Ray revealed a narrow steep staircase leading to the underground tunnel system.

 

I have to admit, I was a little leery of the "tunnels". My great aunt worked in the asylum for a short time and one of her jobs was the transportation of patients in and out of the buildings by way of the tunnels. Her descriptions left me in no hurry to visit such a place. But times have changed, and so has The Village. So I ventured in.

 

tunnel under Building 50 in The VillageLit from beginning to end with only small blubs overhead was a long tunnel constructed in hand laid brick. The roof was arched and the floor bowed in the center. It felt like looking down the barrell a gun, only we were standing in it.

As we walked toward the mid-point of the tunnel Ray explained how they would have built the space by slowly moving a wooden arch form, laying bricks on top to create the dome, and then sliding the form a few feet forward to continue the tunnel.

Up ahead we could see a more recent addition to the roof, an iron covering, indicating we were directly underneath the parking area for the Mercato. As development continues Ray imagines taking advantage of unique spaces like this, perhaps for private wine cellars.

Upon returning to land level, back the way we came, we proceeded straight to the top.

 

To the Top

condo inside Building 50, The Villagecondo view inside Building 50, The VillageThe south wing of Building 50, where reconstruction is nearly complete, was originally the Men’s residences. The first and second floors now house offices including those of the developer, The Minervini Group. The third floor is largely residential, offering beautiful condos with open loft-style spaces. The renovation of these areas was often the most difficult as they had to meet the requirements of several agencies including the National Trust for Historic Building, State regulations and National Park Service guidelines. The respect for historic craftsmanship is evident in every detail, from the polished wooden floors to the top of the 13′ plaster walls. For a look inside, our next stop was Ray’s condo in the restored attic.

 

The attic space was not utilized as living or working space in the original design. But the Minervini Group decided it would make a great place for condos. And the view would be spectacular. The beauty of living inside the Village is this amazing juxtaposition of old and new. Butter yellow bricks and tell tale high ceilings remind you it’s The Village, but otherwise you might think it’s a loft in New York. Around the corner from the entrance an iron staircase spirals up to the small loft bedroom. But we we came to see lies higher yet.

view inside spire at The VillageLooking up from the stairway landing Ray pulled down a latch and released a small wooden ladder. After the trip into the tunnel I realized I was wearing the wrong shoes for this tour. Sneakers would have been the way to go. And at the sight of this ladder with 2 inch rungs I was going to have to be careful. Did I mention heights are not my favorite thing? So up we went. One at a time, up short ladders, holding pipes and wooden ledges, zigzagging our way up several small flights, until we reached another latch. The roof.

We made it to the top. At last we were inside one of the red spires that are synonymous with The Village. Even with the latched closed the space was small, probably 5 feet wide at most. But the view was amazing. This is what I came for. We could see the colors of autumn in every direction, and with clear blue skies it was easy to make out the view of west Grand Traverse Bay to the north, and the Great Wolf Lodge and East Junior High, to the south. Other than the top of the watertower, this is the highest view in The Village.

 

 

From South to North

brick wall at The Villagefaded bricks inside Building 50, The VillageAfter safely managing my way back down the ladder Ray offered to continue the tour on the North side of the building, so I could see the areas not yet restored. We wandered through the Mercato once again, past Sweet Asylum and "the best gelato this side of Italy," according to my guide. If you’ve ever wondered what lies behind those heavy metal doors displaying Employees Only signs, this is where your tour begins.

The large central area in the middle of Building 50 is the Chapel. There are several huge spaces, one leading into the next, with towering brick walls brightened by natural light spilling in from 8′ windows. Here Ray invisions a grand restaurant. I love turning my camera to macro mode to capture the details and textures all around me. So many modern restaurants like Olive Garden try to recreate this atmosphere but it’s not the same. But here the history is real. Ray agreed, "When you look at it, it has the patina of age that you just can’t create."

 

chapel inside The Villagechapel windows inside The VillageThrough more hallways and passages, in which I’d surely be lost without a guide, we ended up in the chapel itself. This will be the gathering space for the Commons. The perfect place for wedding receptions, dances, and a host of community events. Closing my eyes it’s easy to imagine music and laughter spilling from the windows, while the neighboring condo units are barely disturbed — thanks to solid brick walls 2 feet thick to buffer the sound. After seeing the transformation of Stella and Left Foot Charley, it’s not so difficult to picture how beautiful this too will be.

As we wandered through more twists and turns, along peeling lead paint and plaster walls I picked up a few more interesting facts. The State Hospital once housed over 3500 patients. The philosophy used to treat their mental health was that of Thomas Story Kirkbride. He believed the road to mental health was surrounded by beautiful architecture, immersed in nature and grounded with hard work.

 

north hall in Building 50, The Villagenorth hall in Building 50, The VillageWe made it to the long hallway of the women’s dormitory and I realized it looked familiar. In fact, the north and south wings of Building 50 are built in exact mirror image. But what’s really amazing is to realize these were built before computers, and laser levels, scaffolding and even electricity…and yet the length of the hallways in both buildings are a perfect match, down to the micrometer.

 

Speaking of electricity, here’s another fascinating tidbit I picked up on the tour. Did you know the State Hospital was the first state owned building with electricity? An on-site steam generator produced heat and electricity for the entire campus. In fact, they had electricity 20 years before the rest of Traverse City!

 

The Village, by the Numbers

Building 50 in The Village at Grand Traverse CommonsBack at street level we exited Building 50 into the parking lot to take in the perfect autumn day. As we looked across Cottageview Drive Ray explained more of the history of the other buildings on campus. Directly across from Building 50 is Pleasanton Bakery, formerly the firestation. I mentioned earlier that Left Foot Charley and Higher Grounds occupy the former laundry facility. And next door to them, along Red Drive, is Underground Cheesecake in the old potato peeling building. That’s right, the hospital needed an entire building just for removing potato skins. With 3500 patients, and countless staff I guess that makes sense. There was also a butcher and a slaughterhouse on-site, but not on my tour, thanks.

 

I’m not great with numbers, but I am amazed by some of the statistics associated with constructing Building 50, the main adminstration building. Forgive me for all the zeros, but you have to admit this is impressive.

  • 11,000,000 bricks, made locally in neighboring Grelickville
  • 1,800 windows, many of which are over 8′ tall
  • 400,000 sq.ft. in the main building alone.
  • With 1,000,000 sq.ft. of redevelopment space in the entire project, of which 250,000 sq.ft. are already complete, I asked Ray how he manages to tackle one of the largests historic redevelopment projects in the United States. "One little bite at a time," he said, with a smile.

 

Ray Minervini inside Stella, The VillageWe ended our tour that day with a quick photo of the developer in one of his favorite spots, inside Stella. Before I left though, I had one last question for Ray. There are so many rumors about ghosts from the old asylum, so I wondered if Ray had seen anything unusual. "Not once," he said, almost as surprised as I was to hear it. He did have a great story about Genevieve, the ghost at Bowers Harbor Inn…but that’s a tale for another time.

 

For more information about The Village visit their website at www.thevillagetc.com.

 

 

Wine on Tap at Left Foot Charley

 Urban Winery Adds Food and New Wines on Tap

Left Foot Charley, located in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, now features a regular menu of small bites to enjoy along with your tasting selections. The Wine Bar at Left Foot Charley includes fantastic dishes that are healthy, local and pair fabulously with wine. Choose from nearly a dozen options including;

  • The Ploughman’s Lunch:  Denhay Farms Cheddar, fresh bread, olives, and Sopressata salami
  • Left Turn: curry hummus, pita and cukes
  • The Goat: goat cheese, fig, walnut spread and baguette toasts

In an effort to be more cost-effective and eco-friendly, Left Foot Charley is now dispensing some select wines on tap. Bring in your own 1 liter bottle, or buy a wine growler and they’ll fill it on site. They currently feature Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Riesling MD.

For more information on Left Foot Charley, including a map to their location, visit our Dining & Wineries page.

By |2009-03-30T10:36:25-05:00March 30th, 2009|Attractions, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Great Indoor Folk Festival at The Village

Dozens of Folk Artists Perform on Saturday at Building 50

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is host to a folk festival on Saturday February 7th. Five stages will be set-up throughout Building 50 to host as many as 75 performers throughout the day. Brought to you by Northern Michigan Songwriters in the Round. For a complete list of performers Click Here.

In addition, Another Cuppa Joe will host an Open Mic Stage at their coffeehouse in The Village.

 

The festival is a free, non-profit event. Individual artists will offer their CDs available for sale. 

 

By |2009-02-03T12:08:06-05:00February 3rd, 2009|Check This Out, Entertainment, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Holiday Open House, The Village

Village at Grand Traverse Commons imageShop The Village for Holiday Fun
Friday December 12

Come experience the holiday magic in the historic Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Enjoy live music, delectable appetizers, and seasonal specials as you shop for that perfect gift from dozens of unique merchants. Join in The Village Adventure Game for a chance to win big.

When:  Friday, December 12th from 5pm – 9pm

Where: The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Who: Building 50 and the Surrounding Merchants

By |2008-12-10T15:13:17-05:00December 10th, 2008|Attractions, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Fromage & Pasta at Left Foot Charley

Left Foot Charley card graphicA Thanksgiving Event to Support the Northern Michigan Health Clinic

 

Help put the "Thanks" and "Giving" back into Thanksgiving by enjoying some Fromage and Pasta provided by Trattoria Stella Chef Myles Anton. On Saturday November 29th from 11am – 7pm stop by the winery for a festive food and wine pairing and offer your goodwill donation to support the Northern Michigan Health Clinic. Chef Anton’s creations are always exotic and enticing, and Bryan will select a special vintage to match.

The Northern Michigan Health Clinic serves the region’s farm workers. Trattoria Stella and Left Foot Charley are creating this fun event to say "Thanks" to those who work so hard all season long. The wine industry does not exist without healthy men and women to tend to the grapes.

 

100% of the food is donated by Trattoria Stella and 100% of the proceeds go to the clinic.

 

Left Foot Charley is located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons on Red Drive. Trattoria Stella is there as well, in Building 50. For more information on The Village click here.

By |2008-11-26T10:52:08-05:00November 26th, 2008|Check This Out, Events, Restaurants, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Friday Farm Market at The Village

Pick-up Some Farm Fresh Goodies for the Weekend at The Village

 

Stop by The Village at Grand Traverse Commons today and every friday for fresh from the garden fruits, flowers, vegetables and more. Visit with area food artisans and sample many of their delicious offerings.

 

We stopped by recently lured by the wonderful smells of a fresh stirfry prepared by Munson dietitian Laura McCain. The market is located across from Left Foot Charley winery and Higher Grounds coffee. There’s a parking area adjacent to the grassy lawn where the merchants set-up their tents.

On this trip we also sampled some wonderful lavender infused ice tea and lemonade, and purchased bread from Pleasanton Bakery. The market is small, but the people are all friendly and happy to share their knowledge while you browse.

 

Don’t forget to take a side trip through the Mercado, just across the parking area in Building 50. The variety of businesses continues to grow. We always stop in to say hello to Kevin at Tastes of Black Star Farms, or grab a bite at Silvertree Deli if we’ve grown hungry from all the stops along the way. For more information of what you’ll find at The Village check out their card on our Attractions page, or visit their website here.

By |2008-08-01T11:34:57-05:00August 1st, 2008|Attractions, Check This Out, Traverse City|0 Comments

Welcome The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

 Mealtickets is proud to welcome The Village at Grand Traverse Commons to our family of advertisers. If you always driven past the big stone pyramid at the corner of Division and 11th Street, but you’ve never ventured in, now is a great time. The redevelopment of the former State Hospital grounds has uncovered a treasure just waiting to be discovered.

Sometimes known as Traverse City’s Central Park, The Village is one of the largest historical rehabilitation sites in the country. Dozens of businesses have already opened, with more on the way. You could spend the day, or a few hours, it’s up to you. Whether you’re in the mood for shopping, a wine tasting, dining or just a stroll through the grounds, The Village is the place to go. And with new businesses opening all the time, as well as concerts, events, and even a farmers market, there will always be something new to discover.

For more information on The Village check out their card on our Attractions page. The visit their website click here. We’ll do our best to keep you posted on what develops right here on the blog.

By |2008-05-13T11:01:56-05:00May 13th, 2008|Attractions, Mealtickets News, Traverse City|0 Comments