Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

March 29, 2013

Party Spaces: Newer venues offer more options for concerts, events

TRAVERSE CITY— It may have been open for a few years, but downtown Traverse City’s ECCO event space is only now coming on the radar of visitors, thanks to events like the CherryT Ball Drop Dance Party and the Winter Comedy Arts Festival Soup’R Bowl.

It’s one of several area buildings being re-purposed as year-round, multi-functional community event spaces.

ECCO, whose name means “Here it is” or “Here we are” in Italian, opened in June 2011 and has been slowly catching on despite its nearly hidden location between the M-22 and Harbor Wear stores on Front Street.

“The sign just says ECCO, it does not say ECCO event space. So some people think it’s the ECCO shoe store or M-22,” said Madeline Begley of Events to Remember, which recently took over management of the 319-capacity space for owners Front Row Centre. “We’re working on a new sign that will be lighted in an elegant way, since most of our functions are at night. We want to make this place the buzz around town.”

The 5,500-square-foot space originated in 1948 as a basement bowling alley for the Michigan Theatre. In 1959 it was replaced with a roller skating rink known as “Moonlight Gardens.” After a sweeping renovation, it boasts 10-foot-high ceilings and a contemporary neutral pallet that makes it ideal for everything from kids art and outer space camps to elegant weddings. Renters can even supply their own vendors.

“You can kind of decorate however you want because it’s a blank canvas,” Begley said. “It’s wonderful for people who are looking for a venue year-round. No, we don’t have windows. But it’s always sunny in ECCO.”

Located in the former Traverse City Cigar Box Factory (circa 1920), THE BOX on Boardman and Eighth Streets was unveiled at a public open house in December. Shortly after it began hosting cooking classes and other events.

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