Meijer Gardens plans new attractions

Associated Press, AP

Grand Rapids — Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in western Michigan is close to raising the $115 million needed to build a new welcome center, rooftop sculpture garden and picnic pavilion, officials said Thursday.

The Grand Rapids attraction has raised $102 million as part of its capital campaign titled “Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love,” officials said. The name is a nod to billionaire retail pioneer and philanthropist Fred Meijer and his wife.

“The name … reflects the love that Fred and Lena had for each other, for this community and for sculpture and gardens. We strongly believe the growth of Meijer Gardens will continue and that the organization will thrive for generations to come,” Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker said in a statement.

Other planned additions or improvements include a new learning center and sculpture garden entry plaza along with an expanded amphitheater and more parking. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall and is expected to last about four years.

Meijer Gardens opened in 1995 and has seen its attendance, membership and collection expand. Those involved in the project say the plans will allow Meijer Gardens to expand its annual horticulture exhibitions, provide more galleries for sculpture exhibitions and host more events.

Fred Meijer, who built the Midwest retail powerhouse Meijer Inc., died in 2011 at age 91. His vision for Meijer Gardens helped shape the attraction. New York-based firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects have been hired to re-envision and expand the facilities.