“It’s going to be a seamless transition,” says Rochelle Rizzi, the space’s new owner. “Lynne is staying on to show us the equipment and introduce us to clients, but other than that we’re going to alter as little as possible.”
That would be Lynne Brown, who opened P2, located at 319 E. Grand River Ave., in 2007 with her partner Ann Hill. They watched as the space transitioned from their original vision of a member-based photography and video studio into an “urban cool” venue for special events, ranging from TV commercial shoots to wedding receptions. The building dates back to the 1800s, and took its current shape after a fire wiped out a multi-level building that stood on site until 1932. Original features like the exposed brick wall, the Art Deco tin ceiling and the 6,800-square feet of hardwood flooring make the space instantly recognizable — as well as adaptable to any look a photographer or event planner could choose.
“I didn’t intend for P2 to be an events facility,” says Brown. “But as soon as we opened the door, it started evolving. I loved it. It was thrilling embracing all the ideas people brought to me, but now I just think it’s time to look at what’s next.”
Rizzi, owner of Rizzi Designs on the western fringe of Old Town, recently had a fortuitous conversation with Brown that led to the big transition. Rizzi has slowly been building her company — located inside the superintendent’s house on the campus of the former School for the Blind — since November 2009. But she found herself running out of room as she’s expanded the services she offers, mostly involving marketing and design work. She needed an idea.
“I just threw it out to the universe one day, hoping an answer would come,” Rizzi said. “And then I started talking to Lynne at (an Old Town Commercial Association) meeting, and everything just fell into place. It was the perfect fit.”
The new location still doesn’t have a name — the original idea was scooped by another Lansing company’s recent rebranding, forcing Rizzi to switch gears — but the first division of Rizzi Designs to move down the street will be the bridal branding section, RD I Do. The transition has enabled Rizzi to hire two more full-time employees, bringing the total to nine. She says the expanded space will make it easier to continue to grow and take on more employees.
“Some of the ideas we have don’t make sense for a marketing firm,” says Rizzi. “But they are perfect as their own division. This is going to be very exciting and going to provide plenty of opportunity for growth.”
As for Brown, she says she’s going to take a couple of months off and explore “one or two” recent opportunities that have popped up since she bowed out of the event facility business. But she’s confident she’s leaving the building in the good hands of Rizzi.
“We’re two people who care deeply about the community and the people we serve,” Brown said. “I feel like she sent out a message five years ago, and I’ve just been preparing this for her.”