The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a funding tool Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) administers to help catalyze public and private investment in Grand Rapids' urban core. The DDA Board of Directors today took action on the following measures:

Funds to Define River Trail Design Guidelines

The Board approved $130,000 to support the process of developing a manual to guide the construction of the proposed recreational trail on the banks of the Grand River through Downtown. The manual will include design guidelines that inform trail building in a way that establishes an overall character and identity for the trail, provides unique themes and amenities at different points along the trail and ensures improvements along the river edges are integrated with and support restoration of the whitewater rapids in the Grand River. The project will also deliver schematic designs and construction cost estimates for 6 of the 27 riverfront opportunity sites identified in the GR Forward investment strategy to guide the next generation of growth in Downtown.

Denver-based Wenk Associates will lead this process in close collaboration with DGRI, the City, Grand Rapids Whitewater, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and other community partners. 

In addition to the DDA, project funders include the City of Grand Rapids ($380,000), the Monroe North TIFA ($50,000), Grand Rapids Public Museum ($50,000), and the Kent County Drain Commission ($30,000).  

This project is a key component in the broadly-supported community campaign to transform the Grand River corridor in a way that opens up the waterway for a multitude of recreational enthusiasts while simultaneously improving flood protection for thousands of vulnerable homes and businesses, catalyzing private development and evolving the waterway from a divider of east and west "sides" of the city into a central gathering place for the entire community.

Support for Historic Preservation of 144 S. Division Ave.

The Board approved a Downtown Enhancement Grant for Degage Ministries. The grant, not to exceed $50,000, will support restoration of historic building's facade, including repairs to the decorative cornices and other important architectural elements. The project is estimated to cost $352,000. The estimated completion time is November 2017. 

Deploying More Pedestrian Counters

The Board approved the purchase and installation of 7 new pedestrian counters at an amount not to exceed $35,000. The counters accurately measure the number of people walking on Downtown sidewalks, a key measure of neighborhood growth and success. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc will deploy the new counters later this summer in targeted Downtown locations bringing the total number of pedestrian counters to 13.  

Approving a Development Agreement with Celebration! Cinema

The DDA Board authorized Chair Brian Harris to enter into the development agreement with Celebration! Cinema and the City of Grand Rapids to build the proposed Studio Park project in the heart of Downtown. The mixed use project includes: 

  • A 9-screen movie theater;
  • 98 residential units in phase I, plus approximately 100 units in phase II;
  • 32,500 SF retail space;
  • a 140-room four-star hotel;
  • a minimum of 30,000 SF of Class A office space;
  • a 750-900 space parking ramp built with phase II tower pad; and
  • a new publicly-owned, privately-managed public piazza.

Per the development agreement, DDA support for the estimated $140 million project will include but not be limited to:

  • $5.35 million in financial support over 18 years via the DDA's Development Support Program.
  • Design expertise and citizen engagement to inform the design and development of the proposed public piazza.

Celebration! Cinema aims to begin construction in November 2017 and conclude phase 1 approximately two years afterward.