Community Foundation Dedicates Its New Home

On November 21, 2008, Grand Rapids Community Foundation dedicated its new home. With 125 donors, Trustees, staff and the media in attendance, Mayor George Heartwell dedicated the building and Rabbi Al Lewis gave it a blessing.

The historic Anheuser-Busch Icehouse, completed in 1905, was renovated throughout 2008 (click here to see a video of the renovation from start to finish) to create a permanent home for the Community Foundation. There is only one other building like it in the U.S.

“I am pleased, that with the help of this community’s generous donors, we have created another sustainable building in one of the greenest communities in the U.S. We have created a gathering place for all of Kent County, a place where people will convene to solve knotty community issues and create a greater Grand Rapids community,” said Diana Sieger, Community Foundation president.

“It is important that people know we take our stewardship role very seriously. We expect that by owning this building instead of renting, we’ll reduce our operating expense by more than $600,000 over ten years. While conducting this capital campaign, we secured an endowment fund to help with other operational expenses,” Diana said.

The Community Foundation’s journey from the center of downtown to SOVAA (South of Van Andel Arena) began with its longtime donors Tom and Mickie Fox. The story is a legend now, but it was Tom who began to talk about a Community Foundation building nearly 10 years ago. “Always a salesman, Tom knew in his heart of hearts that the Community Foundation would be better off, more visible, if we had our own place. He sweetened the pot with a generous lead gift of $1 million,” Diana said.

The first $4.5 million for buying and renovating the building came from new market tax credits, lead gifts from donors, in-kind gifts, contributions from every Community Foundation Trustee and staff member and the Fund for Community Foundation Good. “Even during a turbulent economy, we are pleased to announce that, with diligent work, we have raised $5.6 million against a total project cost of $5.8 million,” said Cecile Cave Fehsenfeld, Board of Trustees vice chair and capital campaign chair. The campaign cabinet is busily finishing up the fundraising effort.

Mayor George Heartwell’s Dedication

We dedicate this building to the spirit of philanthropy in this community, to the many people who have come before us and will come after us with generous hearts and open hands. We dedicate it to the people who have made contributions to this building campaign and to the volunteers who helped bring those gifts. We dedicate it to the workers who labored here to create this building in 1905 and to those who helped transform it to this wonderful place in 2008. We dedicate it to the staff of the Community Foundation, who work here each day to make Grand Rapids and West Michigan a better community for all. We dedicate it to the Community Foundation Trustees, whose oversight and stewardship helped bring us to this new home today. We dedicate it to the people in this community, who, by no fault of their own, struggle with housing issues, poverty, health issues, educational achievement or lack of connection to others in this community. May we always find a place in this Community Foundation to help improve people’s lives. We dedicate this building to the community of greater Grand Rapids. May this be a place where people come together to give and to solve problems. And may it be a place where all are welcome.