GR Forward

DDA TIFA AFI AFV AFL

Thousands of Grand Rapidians created GR Forward, a 10-year community plan and investment strategy to transform the Grand River into a distinct asset and support the next generation of growth in Downtown Grand Rapids – which anchors one of the fastest growing region's in the United States.

Click here for a Final Draft Executive Summary of GR Forward. (PDF)

The initiative is facilitated by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

The GR Forward community conversations began in February 2014. After the most inclusive public engagement and planning process in the city's history, the project partners in July 2015 delivered the draft growth strategy for community consideration. The formal public review, comment and revision period closed on October 23, 2015.

The Grand Rapids City Commission formally approved GR Forward as an amendment to the City Master Plan on December 15, 2015.

This page includes the final draft GR Forward documents, a summary of public engagement action, the record of public comments and other project information.

Final Draft GR Forward Community Plan and Investment Strategy

Conceptual Renderings

All renderings in JPG format.

The Path to Approval

After 17 months of robust community conversation, and a formal 3-month public review and comment period, GR Forward was advanced as an amendment to the City Master Plan. This was the formal process for public consideration of approval.

November

  • November 3, 2015: Downtown Steering Committee meets to consider recommending GR Forward - with edits incorporated from public comment - for formal approval. (Update: The committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of GR Forward.)
  • November 3, 2015: River Corridor Steering Committee meets to consider recommending GR Forward - with edits incorporated from public comment - for formal approval. (Update: The committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of GR Forward.)
  • November 9, 2015: DGRI Board of Advisors considers recommending GR Forward - with edits incorporated from public comment - for formal approval. Download the agenda (PDF). (Update: The Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of GR Forward.)
  • November 11, 2015: DDA Board of Directors considers recommending GR Forward - with edits incorporated from public comment - for formal approval. Download the agenda (PDF). (Update: The Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of GR Forward.)
  • November 11, 2015: MNTIFA Board of Directors considers recommending GR Forward - with edits incorporated from public comment - for formal approval. Download the agenda (PDF). (Update: The Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of GR Forward.)
  • November 12, 2015: Planning Commission holds Public Hearing and considers approval of GR Forward with edits incorporated from public comment. Download the agenda (PDF). (Update: The Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of GR Forward.)

December

  • December 15, 2015: City Commission considers adoption of GR Forward - with edits incorporated from public comment - as an amendment to the 2002 City Master Plan. Download the agenda. Download the supporting memo. Both documents in PDF format. (Update: The City Commission voted unanimously to approve GR Forward as an amendment to the Master Plan.)

Public Engagement Action

GR Forward was driven by a robust public consultation initiative. The project partners designed and advanced a significant public information and engagement effort that directly involved citizens, developers, businesses, non-profit and institutional partners, decision makers, and other stakeholders. The strategy broadened the reach of traditional public engagement efforts by deploying innovative methods and technologies. This memo summarizes the community engagement action from project startup in February 2014 to the close of the public comment period in October 2015.

GR Forward Public Engagement Summary (PDF)

Record of Public Comment

The Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires a 42 day public review period for a Master Plan amendment. But given deep community interest in the process, the GR Forward public review period was open 73 days and ended October 23, 2015. The community submitted more than 750 comments. All comments were reviewed by staff and the project team. Of the comments received, 194 were identified as actionable and resulted in edits to the draft plan. The majority of actionable comments related to general document formatting; diversity, inclusion and equity; housing affordability; and the Grand River. This memo captures all public comments submitted.

Public Comment Inventory (PDF)

Select Presentations

Citizen Steering Committees

GR Forward comprises three distinct but interrelated planning tracks each led by a specifically focused citizen steering committee:

All documents in PDF format.

Consultant Team

  • Interface Studio specializes in urban planning and design and serves as project manager.
  • Stoss is a landscape design firm focusing on human ecology and river restoration.
  • Sam Schwartz Engineering is developing the transportation vision and strategy.
  • Empower Michigan supported the community outreach and engagement program.
  • Ninigret Partners is an economic design firm focused on shaping the economic development strategy.
  • Zimmerman/Volk Associates is analyzing the housing market potential.
  • Lott3Metz Architecture is co-developing the master plans for Grand Rapids public schools in and around Downtown.
  • Nederveld is co-developing the master plans for Grand Rapids public schools in and around Downtown.
  • Moore & Bruggink is the consulting engineer.

Funding Partners