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 have all had a tremendous week and are enjoying the start of Art Prize.


Some additional information to share with you from last week’s GR Forward presentation.

Related to housing, one of the things we have learned through our analysis is that in order to achieve “critical mass” and realize the investments and retail amenities we want, there needs to be an additional 5,000 -7,000 Downtown residents. However, even if all the DDA owned parcels, vacant land, and vacant buildings were developed, it would not allow us to accommodate those new residents. What this means is in order to achieve our goals, it will require cooperation between both the public and private sectors. Additionally, because of the relative lack of developable land, it raises the importance of making sure each available site achieves its highest and best use.

Another interesting fact is related to our existing road capacity and usage. Per 1,000 people, Grand Rapids has 3.75 miles of arterials and freeway roads. That is more than Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Portland. Further compared to those cities, we have fewer peak period travelers per lane mile. As we think about the future of transportation, it seems important to recognize our existing capacity and usage, and determine the most prudent manner to invest in order to achieve the community’s goals.


This week marked the beginning of our meetings and presentations with various organizations throughout the community. Over the next few months we will be attending as many meetings as possible to help spread the word about GR Forward, and to let people know how they can be involved in the process. Below are the meetings that myself and the City Planning Department attended. We have an extensive list of other groups that we intend to meet with, which includes all the City neighborhood groups, business associations, boards, commissions, as well as those of our regional partners. If anyone has suggestions for meetings that we can attend, please let me know.

  • Experience Grand Rapids
  • Disability Advocates of Kent County
  • Convention and Arena Authority Meet & Greet with the Greater Grand Rapids National Pan-Hellenic Council

Web Numbers

Related to our online presence, our website views continue to grow. 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

7,860 (+492)

415 (+5)

105 (+1)

88 (+1)


This article on cities redeveloping their urban waterfronts has some great examples of projects that are underway and proposed in other metropolitan areas:

I found the video on the project in Chicago really enlightening. Additionally, the transformations that occurred in Hartford and Pittsburgh are inspirational. As an aside, it is although worth noting the shortlist of four architects to complete the proposed project in Washington, D.C. includes Stoss Landscape Urbanism, who we are fortunate to have working on GR Forward.

Also, I always enjoy Planetizen’s annual list of the top planning related websites: If you have time, I recommend browsing the previous year’s notable websites as well. There are some great resources available on these lists.

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