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TC's Old Fun Factory ... Fun Again?

February 16, 2011
TC's Old Fun Factory ... Fun Again?

Once upon a time it was the Michigan Theatre. Later, it morphed into a bowling alley and a roller rink. Now, the basement of Front Row Centre at 121 E. Front St. is envisioned to be a place where 300 people can gather for private parties – a BYO-food-liquor-chair kind of place.

“So, if Sam Porter [of Porter Productions, a music and event promotions company] or the Film Fest wants to rent it or if John Doe wants to do a birthday party, they can bring in their own food and drink,” says Angela Schuler, area artist and project manager. “Most events will be held at night.”

Schuler, who rents space on the main floor of Front Row Centre, says the 5,000 square-foot basement is “raw, with great wood floors” – a remnant of the roller rink, The Fun Factory (c’mon, you remember). It’s been empty since 1983.
“I went to Marty [Lagina] ... and said I thought we could use this for something,” she recalls, “So, I put together a little plan to make it a venue for people to rent.”

“Ballpark” rental rates? Schuler is thinking $800 for rentals on weekends and $600 for weekdays.

Renovations will run approximately $250,000 and should be complete by May 15, Schuler says. Much of the work, like HVAC and fire suppression, was completed three years ago when a billiards place was in the works, she adds.

The space can hold 319 people. They might add partitions down the road, but for now, “we want it to be big and open,” she explains.

“The design is very contemporary,” says Schuler, who plans to rent the space for her art shows. “It’s white, and orange is the accent color, and we’re putting light and sound in for the stage.”

She says renters will be able to bring in liquor – as long as they’re not charging people to get in. Renters can even bring in their own band.

“It’ll be fun to see how it goes for a year or two,” she says. “Ultimately, though, our goal is to find a permanent renter, like a restaurant.”

Schuler says there is – as of yet – no name for the space .
 


Most Recent Comments

 
Grama on March 20, 2012 1:26am

It was still the Michigan Theatre when the roller rink was in the basement. My Girl Scout troop use to roller skate down there,and the floor had quite a slant to it. It was so much fun. Also,the women from church would roller skate there on occassion. (:

Chuck Merithew on March 1, 2011 8:25am

For some six years my family (three sons and a beautiful wife) and some great employees ran the Fun Factory.So many great memories.What a thrillto know someone else has discovered the potential of the space.Best of luck hope it will make you as happy as it made us.Don't forget the LIMBO stick.

Meritmarkets on March 1, 2011 8:14am

The Merithew family(less Pat who died in 2007)would love to wish you are best. My family opened and closed for six years. Many of Traverse Cities best kids skated with us many a day. The Fun Factory provided my three boys and many others with a inexpensive and throughly enjoyable place to have a great time."Down Prairie Down" Thanks for the memories and our very best.

mike bahra on February 26, 2011 1:05pm

I have delivered to that building for years and never knew that was down there!

Connie on February 22, 2011 9:58am

Oh the good ole days! The old skating rink was a great place to go. They not only had skating but held dances. I remember it well. Grat fun and it would be great if there was a place for our teens to go rather than hang out on the streets. Glad to see it is being restored.

Don MacIntyre on February 18, 2011 7:25am

Very good idea, just do not price it out of the financial range of potential customers. . .

Shelly on February 17, 2011 11:10am

Should be a roller rink again or a teen hang out with dancing - sort of like the BOGI was.

Trish on February 16, 2011 10:31am

Used to love roller skating there in the 5th grade!
Good idea for a Venue

Lane on February 16, 2011 10:21am

Very creative idea. Good work, Angela!

Dorothy Dunville on February 16, 2011 10:13am

I just saw a picture of rhe old Michigan theatre last week. It was during the blizzard of 1978 and the whole downtown eas closed.... We do need a place for the teens to go .I agree with Gary on that.

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