The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a funding tool Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) administers to help catalyze public and private investment in Grand Rapids’ urban core. The DDA Board met September 11, 2019, and took the following action:

Approved Funding for Grand River Governance Consultant Services

The DDA Board approved funding for consultant services to support the process of designing a governance and funding strategy capable of executing on the community’s vision for a restored and revitalized Grand River corridor running through Downtown Grand Rapids.

The funding approval comes one month after the Board accepted the staff recommendation to engage the consultant team of HR&A Advisors and Kathy Blaha Consulting for the project.

The consultant scope of work focuses on three key priority areas:

  • Analyzing sustainable funding stream for opportunities to program, operate and maintain the new riverfront amenity;
  • Summarizing model governance options and providing the rationale for a recommended strategy;
  • Developing a benefits case for riverfront revitalization - both quantitative and qualitative - to illuminate the anticipated value of the project and help drive implementation.

The HR&A consultant team developed a project schedule and fee that delivers these work products in early 2020 and within the budget allocated in the Fiscal Year 2020 budgets of the DDA and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority.

The DDA will contribute an amount not to exceed $147,500 to support the project. The Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority also will contribute an amount not to exceed $50,000.

With these approvals, the HR&A team will immediately begin work on the project.

Approved Additional Funding for Michigan/Bridge Streets Crosswalk Construction

The DDA Board approved funding to install electric service as part of the project - currently underway - to construct two new crosswalks that connect the Grand River trail across Michigan and Bridge Streets. The project is designed to make the area significantly safer and more comfortable for people using the Grand River trail and sidewalk in the area.

The DDA in July approved funding for the construction of two trail crossings at Michigan and Bridge Streets in an amount not to exceed $410,000. During the discussion, the Board requested that the City of Grand Rapids and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. consider installing electrical outlets at the base of the five trees in new planters adjacent to the U.S. Post Office.

To that end, DGRI and the City designed a plan to add five outlets at the tree locations to provide power for beautification lighting. The work includes:

  • 461 feet of underground electrical wire
  • 373 feet of direct buried conduit
  • 54 feet of directional bore conduit
  • Connection to the existing service
  • Five power pedestals at each tree
  • Power service for the irrigation system

The change order request totals $29,309, bringing the total project cost to $439,309.

Authorized Funding for Downtown Tree Plantings

The DDA Board renewed its partnership with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to continue planting and maintaining trees in public spaces within the DDA boundary.

The City Master Plan, via the GR Forward amendment, established the goal of doubling the Downtown tree canopy from 5 to 10 percent. “Tree canopy” is the proportion of land area covered by trees as viewed with satellite imagery. Since establishing the canopy goal in 2015, the DDA and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. have planted more than a thousand trees in Downtown.

Friends of Grand Rapids Park support this important work by organizing volunteers to plant trees, as well as watering and supporting the maintenance of new trees. The DDA approved an amount not to exceed $65,000 to continue the partnership in 2020.