The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board at their monthly meeting today authorized funding to test a pop-up dog park in partnership with a private property owner. The project aspires to add a new lifestyle amenity that appeals to and supports the growing number of Downtown residents. The pop-up dog park also comes in direct response to a recent City Parks Master Plan process that identified a deficit of dog parks in the City of Grand Rapids.

“Market research reveals more than 5,000 households own at least one dog in the 49503 zip code alone,” said Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Project Manager Stephanie Wong. “That’s a good number of dogs. Yet we only have two public dog parks, and neither are conveniently walk-able for Downtown residents. Dog parks are a unique way to help build community by providing a hub for pets and their owners to gather. They also help increase foot traffic and sidewalk activity and advance on our goal to steadily cultivate an increasingly vibrant, and dog-friendly, Downtown.”

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The DDA Board also approved a retail innovation grant to support one new business – Ambiance GR Kitchen & Lounge – and recommended approval of a liquor license for the Studio Park entertainment project currently under construction.

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a funding tool to help catalyze public and private investment in Grand Rapids’ urban core. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI), the community-powered enterprise responsible for place management and city building in Downtown Grand Rapids, administers the DDA on behalf of the people of the City of Grand Rapids. 

The pop-up dog park will be located at 210 Market Ave, a property adjacent to Founder’s Brewing and owned by Maplegrove Property Management. The site is directly across the street from 234 Market, a new mixed use residential building that includes 235 apartments and dog-friendly units Maplegrove opened in 2018.

Currently a vacant and underutilized 8,0000 square foot lot, the Maplegrove-DGRI partnership and DDA support clears the way to transform the lot into an interim dog park that will include 6-foot fencing along the perimeter, doggy waste bags and trash cans, planter boxes as well as dog-friendly ground cover and amenities.

DGRI will maintain and operate the dog-park, empowering pet-owners with the responsibility to clean up after their dogs and care for the site. The park will be open year-round and hours of operation will be 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM daily, consistent with City parks hours. The space will include two defined areas – one for small dogs and another for all dogs.

The pop-up dog park, anticipated to open in May, is envisioned as short-term experiment and the partners will evaluate the project’s performance after one year. The DDA approved funds not to exceed $25,000 to support the project. 

The selected site for the Pop-Up Dog Park as it exists today
The selected site for the Pop-Up Dog Park as it exists today

The DDA Board also authorized retail incubation funds to support the forthcoming Ambiance GR Kitchen & Lounge, a new venue that will offer a place for social gathering with casual dining, small concerts, comedy shows, spoken word poetry and other entertainment.

The DDA’s retail incubation grant program, launched in 2018, is designed to help advance on numerous Downtown goals, including:

  • Supporting entrepreneurship and small business growth
  • Supporting the activation of vacant retail space.
  • Diversifying the mix of Downtown retail offerings

Tamales Mary, the first successful applicant to the grant program, recently was named the Most Promising Hispanic Business by the Hispanic Chamber of West Michigan. The DDA approved funds not to exceed $45,000 in support of the Ambiance GR startup.

The DDA also recommended approval of a Development Area Liquor License for Studio Park. The $80 million mixed-use entertainment project is currently under construction and will include a 9-screen movie theater, an outdoor space with a 10th movie screen, a 200-seat concert venue and a 200-seat restaurant. It will also include ground-floor retail space, residential space, a hotel, expansive parking as well as office. The liquor license request now moves to the Grand Rapids City Commission for further consideration.