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 had a great week.

Next week we are going to pick up our GR Forward activities in earnest. Our consultant team will be in town, and we will be reconvening focus groups on diversity and inclusion, art, and River adjacent infrastructure. In addition, we are looking forward to meeting with both the Downtown and River Corridor Steering Committees. The Committees will be reviewing an outline of the draft Plan, and will hold discussions on implementation to help identify community partners to begin translating the recommendations from GR Forward into action.

Speaking of GR Forward implementation, this week the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board and the Monroe North Tax Increment Financing Authority (TIFA) both approved their budgets for fiscal year 2016, which begins on July 1st. This was a significant milestone, as there are several projects included in both budgets that came directly from the input received during GR Forward. The approval of the budgets signifies the confidence our civic leaders have in both the process and outcomes to date, and is an important first step realizing the vision we all share for the future of Grand Rapids. I have highlighted some of the projects included in the budgets below, and while there is much work to be done to complete GR Forward, it is exciting to see some of our collective efforts coming to fruition.

  • Bridge Street Public Realm Improvements
  • Calder Plaza Design
  • Canal Street Park Riverwalk Extension
  • Downtown Circulator Infrastructure
  • Downtown Bicycle Friendly Improvements
  • Lyon Square Design and Improvements
  • Pearl Street Public Realm Improvements


In addition to receiving approval of the DDA and Monroe North TIFA budgets, this week we also found time to give presentations to the groups listed below. As always, if anyone has recommendations for groups we can meet with, please let me know.

  • GRPS Center for Economicology
  • Mayflower Explorers Group at Mayflower Congregational Church
  • Grand Rapids SmartZone Board

Web Numbers

The latest web and social media numbers are below. Things have slowed a bit since our last public forum, so be sure to continue to share the links below in your network so everyone can stay up to date with GR Forward activities.


This article on the economic benefits of Pittsburgh’s riverfront parks system was really eye-opening, and relevant to the discussions we are having through GR Forward.

The article cites a report conducted by Sasaki Associates which studied investments along a 13-mile stretch of Three Rivers Park over a 15 year period. In that time, $130 million was invested in public space enhancements, including trails and other open spaces, which has helped generate nearly $4.1 billion in development on and near the waterfront. During the same period, property values along the riverfront have jumped 60 percent, compared to 32 percent in the rest of the city.

The success of those developments are not being lost on city leaders or the citizens of Pittsburgh, who are considering further investments to capitalize on the success of the riverfront. The report concludes by saying that a proposed $50 million investment in public space improvements on a 15 acre parcel along the riverfront could generate $6.8 - $15.6 million in annual tax revenue. That amount would more than offset the estimated $3.3 million of annual debt service required of the city to finance the work.

It is encouraging to the successes of other communities who are being intentional about investment on their riverfronts, and hopefully it is a sign of good things to come for Grand Rapids. Click here to read the full report (PDF).

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