The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board of Directors today sent the City Commission an $11.7 million Fiscal Year 2019 recommendation outlining planned investments to, among other actions, revitalize the Grand River, improve the Downtown parks system and enhance the Downtown transportation network to make it safer, easier and more affordable for people to get around.
Citizens, working through a participatory budget process, identified and prioritized 100 percent of the approximately $9.4 million in proposed discretionary investments.
"This budget deepens our commitment to keep moving GR Forward," said Tim Kelly, President and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) "The community has clearly articulated our priorities for Downtown. So we’re well positioned to act with speed and confidence to implement the vision. What’s more, organizations and cities that quickly advance on good, widely supported ideas are figuratively one step ahead of the competition.”
DGRI is the organization responsible for city building and place management in Downtown Grand Rapids, which anchors one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. DGRI manages several economic development tools in the urban core, including the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, which leverages public and private investment in central city.
Working in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools and dozens of others partners, DGRI engaged thousands of citizens to define GR Forward, a 10-year growth strategy that outlines the city building goals and investment priorities for Downtown Grand Rapids. The City Commission unanimously adopted GR Forward as an amendment to the City Master Plan in December 2015.
The DDA’s recommended FY19 budget commits more than $11.7 million to support the plan's implementation.
Specifically, the GR Forward-recommended actions supported by the budget include but are not limited to:
- Grand Rapids Whitewater’s work to design and secure permits to put the rapids back in the Grand River.
- Designing a pavilion on Calder Plaza, the first major steps towards realizing the community’s vision for this underutilized public space.
- Transforming the river’s edge at Lyon Square.
- Installing festoon lighting above Ionia Avenue.
- Starting up pre-development activities to launch a public bike share system.
- Reconstructing a better Weston Street from Sheldon to LaGrave Ave.
- Installing shelters to improve the transit rider experience in Downtown.
- Piloting recycling as part of the waste management program on Monroe Center.
- Continuing to expand winter programming and activities.
More generally, the proposed FY19 expenditures organize approximately in the following priority areas:
- $2 million (10 projects) to advance on GR Forward Goal 1 - Restoring the Grand River as the draw to the city, county and region.
- $2.5 million (8 projects) to advance on GR Forward Goal 2 - Developing a true Downtown neighborhood home to a diverse population.
- $2.5 million (19 projects) to advance on GR Forward Goal 3 - Implementing a 21st century mobility strategy.
- $175,000 (2 projects) to advance on GR Forward Goal 4 - Growing more and better jobs and ensuring continued vitality of the local economy.
- $2.5 million (46 projects) to advance on GR Forward Goal 5 - Reinvesting in public space, culture and inclusive programming.
The budget also continues to pay down debt on Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center and flood protection enhancements.
DGRI staff will present the proposed budget for City Commission on May 22, 2018. If approved, the budget will come back to the DDA Board for the final adoption in June.