If you’ve ever been to a major event in Grand Rapids, there’s a good chance that Dick DeVos had something to do with it. DeVos has been enthusiastic about the development of Grand Rapids for decades. He didn’t want Grand Rapids to go the way of Detroit with urban sprawl and major entertainment venues outside of town. Instead, he focused on downtown revitalization and growth within the city limits.
Today, if you attend an event at Van Andel Arena or DeVos Place, the DeVos family has their hand in it. Van Andel Arena is a concert and sporting event venue that DeVos helped establish. It’s downtown near the revitalization zone on Division Street in the heart of Grand Rapids.
Even though developers wanted to put Van Andel arena out of town, DeVos handled the politics and logistics to move it downtown. If you attend a Grand Rapids Symphony performance or go to an expo, you’ll head to DeVos Place. Named after the DeVos family, DeVos Place has a distinct wavy top. It’s now a fixture on the Grand Rapids skyline.
Before DeVos took the lead, some major event venues went in outside of the Grand Rapids city limits. The DeltaPlex hosts sporting events and other gatherings in nearby Walker. Grand Rapids has a minor league basketball team that plays at the venue.
The city’s minor league baseball venue is also outside of the city limits in Comstock Park. The Whitecaps have played their games at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park since their inaugural season. However, big-name headliners perform downtown Grand Rapids at the much larger Van Andel Arena.
DeVos wanted people to travel downtown in order to spend a night on the town. The City of Grand Rapids has supported Devos’ efforts by establishing Renaissance zones with low taxes in order to encourage people to live downtown and begin new business and building ventures. In addition to entertainment ventures, the DeVos family is also a part of the development of Grand Rapids’ medical mile. The medical facilities on the north end of downtown include the Helen DeVos children’s hospital.
Dick DeVos is the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. The family has been a part of many economic and education initiatives in West Michigan. Dick DeVos’ son, Rick DeVos, tried launching movie review website Spout.com before founding Art Prize, the largest public art competition in the world.
Despite their work to build communities and schools, the DeVos family remains controversial. In 1999, the elder DeVos, Richard DeVos, traveled to England to receive a heart transplant. DeVos was ineligible to receive a heart transplant in the United States because of his age.
Instead, he paid approximately 60,000 British pounds to receive a heart in England. DeVos had a series of heart-related problems before the transplant. He had multiple strokes and had even undergone a bypass surgery. English health department officials said that there was no one else suitable for the heart so it made sense to allow DeVos to have it, but that it was only fair to charge him for the costs.
To learn more, visit http://dickdevos.com/news/.