The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board of Directors today took the following action:

Referred Redesign Plan for Veteran’s and Monument Parks for Budget Review

The DDA Board received a presentation of the final master plan to renew Veteran’s and Monument Parks. The plan, developed during a year-long public engagement process led by a 23-member citizen’s committee, will guide the reinvestment strategy for both Monument and Veteran’s Memorial parks, both of which are locally designated historic landmarks.

In recent years the visibility of and activities in the parks have changed significantly due to numerous factors, including substantial revitalization in the area. The current rehab effort aims to, among other goals, enhance public use and enjoyment of the space; celebrate the heritage of the parks; continue to honor the service and sacrifice of local military veterans; and support the ongoing movement to make downtown more attractive, green, walkable, and distinct.

Phase 1 of the proposed rehabilitation is estimated to cost approximately $2.2 million. Phase 2 is estimated to cost approximately $1.1 million. The DDA Board referred the plan to its Environment Action Group to review the plan’s budget assumptions, prioritize implementation costs, and consider investment options and partnerships. Please find the final master plan attached.

Accepted Arena South Vision

The DDA Board accepted a conceptual vision and a series of city-building priorities to guide the future disposition of DDA-owned land south of Van Andel Arena. The DDA currently controls several key properties in the so-called Arena District, an area that continues to experience tremendous revitalization. The Arena South Visioning Plan for the first time defines a common, community-driven vision for how best to develop the properties, which currently serve as surface parking. The vision, shaped during an intensive public engagement process led by a 15-member steering committee, outlines five community priorities to promote thoughtful redevelopment:

  1. Growing business and economic opportunities
  2. Greening streets, buildings, and public spaces
  3. Building compact, urban blocks that are densely developed and designed for people
  4. Connecting transit, shops, restaurants, hotels, schools, and the Grand River
  5. Living and engaging in a multi-season inclusive environment

The DDA initiated the visioning and priority-setting process in response to developer interest in the DDA-owned property. The Arena South Visioning Plan does not prescribe future land use in the area. Rather it clearly defines fundamental criteria the DDA will use to evaluate development proposals and ultimately dispose of its land assets. The DDA also anticipates additional opportunity for public input if and when individual development proposals are submitted and considered. Please find one Arena South conceptual vision attached.

Supported Liquor License for Downtown Market Vendor

The DDA Board recommended approval of a liquor license for Aperitivo, LLC, a food, beer, and wine vendor that will tenant the Downtown Market. If approved by the City Commission and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, the license will allow the vendor to operate a tasting room to compliment wine and charcuterie sales.

Authorized an Agreement for New Office Space to House Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc

The DDA Board authorized Chair Brian Harris to execute a lease for office space in the Federal Square Building. The space, located at 29 Pearl NW, emerged as the preferred option after the DDA evaluated 13 different locations throughout downtown. The decision was based on, among other criteria, the location’s accessibility, visibility, cost, and community meeting space. Breathing new life into an underutilized building and area of the central city also was a key priority. This particular space at 29 Pearl has stood vacant for approximately 8 years.

The DDA, currently housed in City Hall, expects to move to the new space in June 2013. Ultimately the space will house the DDA, the Downtown Alliance, and the Grand Rapids Office of Special Events, all of which will combine operations under the new partnership known as Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.