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September 13, 2017

Rolling Stone working with developer on a music center in old guitar factory

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A guitar factory in Kalamazoo is teaming up with Rolling Stone in an effort to turn the historic site into a national music destination.

Heritage Guitar owners announced their partnership with New York-based Rolling Stone LLC and Kalamazoo developer PlazaCorp this weekend.

“We are excited to share that we are working closely with Rolling Stone, the most iconic name in pop culture for 50 years, and have a partnership agreement in place to develop a premium lifestyle offering at 225 Parson,” said Jeff Nicholson, president of PlazaCorp. “They share our passion for the location's history and significance, and we are currently in an exploration phase to find operators for these opportunities.”

Plans include incorporating a wealth of music and pop culture into a multimillion-dollar renovation of Heritage's nearly century-old factory that'll feature a live entertainment venue, instrument store, museum, recording studio, restaurant and rooftop bar.

PlazaCorp officials said Heritage will relocate to the basement of the original three-story location, which is part of the complex.

“The Rolling Stone brand, and having this be a Rolling Stone marquee property, is going to be phenomenal in coordination with the deep history that's already here,” said Andy Wenzel, a spokesman for PlazaCorp.

Nicholson didn't cite the projected cost of the project but said plans will rely on the support of local, state and federal incentives.

Heritage Guitar is also hoping to boost sales worldwide by partnering with BandLab Technologies, a Singapore-based collective of global music brands that includes its flagship digital product, Band Lab.

Officials of Heritage, a privately held company, didn't disclose sales figures but said it's focused on producing and selling six handcrafted guitars each day, an increase from two to three per day in 2015.

The announcement came as Kalamazoo celebrates the 100th anniversary of making guitars at the factory. The building was home to Gibson Guitars from 1917 to 1984 until Heritage Guitars took it over.


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