Citizens play an important role in the health and spirit of a community. With a steadily growing population of people living Downtown, residents increasingly seek new and more opportunities to connect with neighbors, share information, discuss key issues and ultimately build community across Downtown.
This movement among interested residential stakeholders - both homeowners and renters - is new in Downtown, as the "neighborhood" has essentially served as 9-to-5 business district with few residents since the mid-1900s.
Today, the neighborhood counts ~5,000 residents - a population anticipated to double in the next decade.
To support this growing residential community, the Downtown Neighbor Network is an initiative Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. is currently organizing in close collaboration with Downtown resident leaders.
The purpose is to provide a forum for socializing, learning, organizing and ultimately deeper citizen engagement in the work of building and promoting a high quality of residential life in Downtown 24/7.
This page includes information and updates about the startup organizing of the Downtown Residents Network.
Interested to learn more and/or get involved? Drop an email to DGRI's Manager of Neighbor Experience Annamarie Buller.
Starting Up the Neighbor Network
The GR Forward plan of action identified the goal to create a downtown neighborhood that is home to a diverse population. To that end, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) looks to support initiatives that improve Downtown living for existing residents and attract new residents.
GR Forward specifically identifies the opportunity to establish a downtown resident council. To explore this idea further, an ad-hoc steering committee of Downtown residents formed in early 2018 to explore the creation of a formal organization that would convene and represent Downtown neighbors.
The steering committee was intentionally constituted to represent various viewpoints and perspectives on the unique challenges and opportunities of living in or near downtown Grand Rapids. The group conducted an extensive “data dive” to better understand who was living in downtown, what groups currently (or potentially) exist in and near downtown, what concerns residents have, how is downtown changing, and what type of organization might be the best fit to represent the unique voice of downtown living.
Click here to read the outcome of that process (PDF) and the group's draft recommendation on the Downtown Neighbor Network's mission, vision, guiding principles and scope of work.
See additional process information below.
Downtown Neighbor Network Steering Committee
The steering committee directing the startup and organizing of the Downtown Neighbor Network includes a diverse mix of Downtown residents. They include:
- Laurie Craft, Riverhouse
- Erica Curry VanEe, Union Square
- Chadd Dowding, Heritage Hill
- Dave Hill, Front Row
- Michael Hoogeboom, Tapestry Square
- Meegan Joyce, Riverhouse
- Carl Kelly, Boardwalk
- Latesha Lipscomb, Division Park Avenue
- Ada Mbonu, Hopson Flats
- Kelli Jo Peltier, Plaza Towers
- Eddie Tadlock, The Fitzgerald
- Mark Tagan, The Lofts
- Maria Zache Starkey, The Peck Building
The process of exploring a Downtown resident organization was supported by original research, a community survey, mapping and other relevant information essential to a thorough understanding of and dialogue about trends, needs, challenges and opportunities. This section includes this background info and data.
Past Downtown Neighbor Events
Prior to organizing the Downtown Neighbor Network, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc worked closely with residents to organize regular forums for neighbor socializing, learning and engagement. Here's a sampling of those community events.
- Holiday Happy Hour (December 1, 2018)
- Mix, Mingle & Share (April 25, 2018) Click here to view the presentation on Downtown Neighbor Network organizing. (PDF)
- Bike Share Focus Group (October 25, 2017) Click here to view the presentation. (PDF)
- An Evening with Downtown Developers (September 6, 2017)
- Mix, Mingle & Share (April 26, 2017)
- Snow Days Sneak Peek (February 9, 2017)
- Park Plans Moving Forward (November 9, 2016)
- Downtown Transportation Changes (August 6, 2016)
- Mix, Mingle & Share (May 3, 2016)