Mike and Wanda Jarchow’s soon-to-open Grand Prairie Events Center will accommodate up to 600 people with tables, chairs, linens, china and everything needed for special events.
“It’s kind of a stationary version of the tent business,” Mike Jarchow said, referring to their Big Top Tent Rental business that they sold to a local family last year.
“But we’ll have air conditioning now, and we won’t have to worry about wind.”
The Jarchows are transforming the former Family Dollar building (just south of Main Street on Estey Street) into their event center that will open in time to accommodate an early September wedding.
Construction work is slowly shifting to finishing work, with flooring and walls completed in some areas.
On Friday, Jarchow offered a tour of the 11,500-square-foot building.
The facility is large enough for 600 people, but it can be sectioned into three separate rooms, depending on space needs.
The building offers six men’s restrooms, six women’s restrooms and three family restrooms, plus a bride’s room and groom’s room (in opposite corners of the facility), and several private areas for small gatherings.
“I’m trying to make it as user-friendly as possible,” Jarchow said.
The restrooms will have lights surrounding the vanity mirrors and accent walls will feature mosaic tile, “to fancy it up a bit,” he said.
A commercial sound system will operate a video system with three 164-inch screens, one of them portable.
The kitchen has a three-compartment sink, hand sinks, dishwasher, 1,000-pound icemaker, water station and walk-in cooler.
A list of licensed caterers will be available to prepare the food off-site and have access to the kitchen area for food prep. The caterers will also provide the liquor and license when parties request alcohol.
The building will keep the existing 6-by-8-foot overhead door for deliveries.
There are eight heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, so that individual areas of the facility can be heated or cooled as needed, depending on the size of the crowd.
The west side of the building features an ornate lobby area that doubles as a small-group meeting space for up to 40 people. "We can fit several 8-foot tables in here, or 6-foot tables," Jarchow said.
He said the event center will be appropriate for everything from weddings and funerals to musical entertainment and other community events.
As part of booking the facility, the Jarchows will offer a list of suggestions for local caterers, photographers and musicians.
The north end of the lobby near the main entrance opens to a focal area of rustic brick, natural stone, built-in woodwork (by Country Cupboards) and indoor prairie grasses.
The brick accent walls (built by Dave Niessink) are made with bricks from Jarchow’s North Estey Street home, formerly known as the A.D. LaDue home, which he has renovated over the past 15 years.
He recovered roughly 6,000 bricks from that project (from the chimney, fireplace and in walls) that will prominently appear in several niche areas of the facility.
It’s a touch of history that Jarchow’s clearly proud of. “LaDue was involved with the Luverne Brick Company, so I assume there was some connection there,” he said.
The exterior includes enough roof overhang to accommodate outdoor patio seating on the west side of the building.
The facility will feature some prairie landscaping elements near the front entrance and out by the signpost.
“Holly (Sammons, EDA director) and the city have been really helpful,” Jarchow said about the Historic Façade Improvement Program and the city’s Sign Design Program.
At the same time, Jarchow said he’s used local contractors whenever and wherever possible.
Dan Hamann is the general contractor, McClure Plumbing, Heating and Electrical is plumbing and wiring the building, flooring is from Manitou Carpets, building supplies are from Luverne Building Center and the architectural and interior design is by Mark and Katelyn VanAartsen.
“It always pays to do business where you live,” Jarchow said.
Prior to the Jarchows’ purchase, the building had been empty for five years after the Family Dollar Store closed in 2010.
Before that, it was home to Luverne True Value, and it was originally built in 1976 as a grocery store — first Les’ Foodland and then Jubilee Foods, where Jarchow once worked as a high school student in the early 1980s.
“They ask me if I am going to wear my gold tie and blue apron,” he told the Star Herald last fall when he bought the building.