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:

Good Morning Everyone:

I hope you have all had a tremendous week.


Both the Downtown and River Steering Committees met yesterday and heard great presentations from our consultants.

For Downtown, the presentation was structured around the following four major questions:

  • 1)How do we achieve critical mass?
  • 2)Where will growth come from?
  • 3)How can we attract talent?
  • 4)How do we improve connectivity?

While there was too much information covered in the presentation to go over in this email, I want to share some of the major insights.

  • To achieve “critical mass”, we need to have a goal of an additional 5,000 – 7,000 residents living Downtown. This is required to create the type of livable community that has a variety of retail options, recreational amenities, is “open” 7 days a week, and provides a neighborhood feel for those living and visiting here.
  • We have land constraints that make achieving this goal challenging. For example, if all the existing publicly owned land was developed, it would not allow us to accommodate these additional residents. As such, the goal can only be achieved by collaboration between the public and private sectors.
  • From an economic development and job creation perspective, Downtown does not currently grab its fair share of jobs from the professional and technical sectors when compared to the metropolitan region. To improve, the available working space will need to more closely match the business type. This is particularly true if we hope to keep participants in the innovation economy.
  • To further attract and retain talent, we need to focus on providing housing options and creating places that people want to be. Related to housing, the average student graduating from a Michigan college or university has $28,840 in student debt. When those student loan payments are subtracted from their disposable income, an individual making $35,000 can only afford $555 / month for rent, which is a not a housing price point that is abundantly available.
  • Violent crimes happen has as frequently Downtown when compared to the City-wide rate.
  • There are 20,398 publicly available parking spaces Downtown, and the off-street peak utilization is 65%. On-street utilization during a typical weekday is 58.4%, but on a weekend evening it is 95%, largely because it is free to park during those times.

I have attached a few of the slides from the presentation to further illustrate these points, and over the next couple of weeks I will share additional information. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions.

Web Numbers

Related to our online presence, our website saw a good spike in views again. Social media is stagnating a bit, though as our fall events begin we expect to see those numbers spike too. As always, be sure to share the links below with anyone that might be interested so we can continue to promote GR Forward.

Facebook -

Twitter -

Instagram -

Website Views

Facebook Likes

Instagram Followers

Twitter Followers

7,368 (+860)

410 (+7)

104 (+3)

87 (+1)


I know a number of you saw this already, but I feel it is worth sharing that Grand Rapids and Downtown received more recognition this week, this time coming in at #10 on Forbes’ Best Opportunity Cities list.

Here is a link to the full article:

…and here is a link to the specific Grand Rapids page:

Always nice to receive recognition and to continue to get the word out about all of the great things happening in our City.

If you have any questions please let me know. Otherwise, have a great weekend.