Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Planning Manager Tim Kelly emails a weekly GR Forward update to the project Steering Committee. Here's this week's communication:

Happy Friday Everyone:

I hope you are all enjoying another great week.


Three updates for you.

First, the Downtown and River Steering Committees have scheduled their next meetings. Both will be held on Thursday, September 18. The agendas for the meetings will include further discussion of the findings from the data gathering, as well as analysis of what the findings mean. Based on this information, the Committees will also have a discussion on what activities to develop for the Open House in October.

Second, following a survey of both Steering Committees in July and August, we have developed a short list of topics and potential speakers for the Speaker Series. For those of you not familiar with the Speaker Series, last year DGRI brought in four national experts for community discussions on transportation and mobility, river restoration, economic development, and leadership in planning. Given the success of last year’s events, we are bringing the Speaker Series back, and will have community discussions around key elements of the GR Forward effort. We anticipate having our first speaker later in the Fall, but as more details become available I will keep you posted.

Lastly, related to GRPS, the Museum School space planning at the Public Museum is moving along very well. There was a productive meeting on Tuesday, where conceptual options for build out were reviewed. A lot of work remains, however, that portion of the work is still on track to be complete by the end of this calendar year.

Web Numbers

Related to our online efforts, we continue to see increased usage on the website. Social media has stagnated a bit, with small increases in Facebook and Twitter followers, and a decrease in our Instagram followers. If you are on social media and not yet following GR Forward, please make sure you do so. Also, be sure to share the links below with anyone that might be interested.

Facebook -

Twitter -

Instagram -

Website Views

Facebook Likes

Instagram Followers

Twitter Followers

4,460 (+441)

367 (+4)

89 (-2)

74 (+4)


This article from Brent Toderian, former Director of City Planning for Vancouver, on designing cities for children and families is really interesting:

Toderian makes the claim that kids are the “indicator species” of a great neighborhood. Meaning, if there are no children living in a downtown neighborhood, there is probably a good reason. Often times, the reason is that cities are not doing what is necessary to make downtowns attractive to families. That is, there are few schools, daycares, playgrounds, or other facilities that create an environment which is kid or teenager friendly.

To accomplish this, Toderian promotes starting the planning and designing process with the parent and child in mind. Start by asking the question, is this a place kids want to be? Also, is this a place where parents have what they need in terms of family-raising infrastructure and support systems?

That is not say that just by providing the amenities every family will want to live downtown. However, by not providing them, we are precluding those that may want to. This not only deprives those families that want to live downtown, but it also inhibits cities from creating a diverse local economy that works for everyone.

As always, if you have any questions please let me know. Otherwise, have a great weekend.