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.

To maintain a high level of openness and transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) will host all meetings on the virtual platform Microsoft Teams. This includes all DDA Board Meetings for the foreseeable future.

The full recording of the DDA Board meeting on June 10, 2020, is available on YouTube.

The Board met on this agenda and took the following action:

Authorized Financial Support for Downtown Business Damage

The Board authorized the use of the Downtown Enhancement Grant to financially support businesses damaged as a result of the civil unrest that occurred on the weekend of May 30. The funds will be used largely to help cover costs related to window repairs and replacements. The Board also authorized the DDA’s Economic Relief Subcommittee to approve any expenditures exceeding $15,000.

Approved an Amendment to Development Support Agreement for 10 Ionia

The Board approved an amendment to the 2018 Development and Reimbursement Agreement with HGR-1, LLC for the development of the Residence Inn currently under construction at 10 Ionia. The project was originally scheduled for completion and occupancy by September 1, 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent Executive Orders from Governor Whitmer halting construction, November 1, 2020, is the new target completion date.

The developer anticipates the delay will result in reduced revenues of $1,600,000 - $2,000,000, which does not account for any loss that will be experienced from reduced occupancy levels in the coming months. To support the project amidst these unexpected challenges, the Board approved an amended agreement that revises the reimbursement for DDA eligible expenses from approximately $1.2 million to approximately $1.6 million. The amended agreement also revises the reimbursement term from 15 to 20 years.

Approved Additional Support for Skate and Bike Facility in Monroe North

The Board authorized an increase in funding for the upcoming skate and bike facility to be installed on the city-owned land in the Monroe North neighborhood.

The ambitious 14,000 sq ft facility was designed in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids and AGA Nation, which specializes in designing and building mobile action sports facilities. The facility will feature a diverse array of structures, including banked ramps, concrete slabs and rails for grinding at 555 Monroe Ave NW.

The skate and bike facility will be designed and constructed to last approximately 3 years.

The Board approved a revised project budget not to exceed $255,000 to design, build, and maintain the facility. Funds also account for a grand opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Construction is expected to begin in July and finish by September.

Authorized Funds to Evaluate Downtown Wayfinding System

The Board authorized a contract with Progressive AE for wayfinding consulting services.

The development of a new, pedestrian-friendly wayfinding system aligns with Goal 3 of the GR Forward plan, which prioritizes creating a 21st-century mobility strategy. The current Downtown system is more than 20 years old, significantly out-of-date, inadequately meets pedestrian needs and has become costly to maintain.

Based on a thorough evaluation of respondents to a Request for Proposals, the project steering committee recommended hiring Progressive AE/RL to implement a new pedestrian-friendly wayfinding system, which will include:

  • Analysis of existing wayfinding inventory
  • Development of a wayfinding strategy that integrates the wayfinding systems in the public right-of-way, the skywalk and the Riverwalk
  • Development of an Asset Management Plan to outline maintenance and replacement needs as well as estimated costs associated with those activities
  • Design the various wayfinding elements
  • Help prepare the bid package for fabrication and implementation

The Board approved a project budget not to exceed $142,873.

Approved Funding for Bridge South Planning Services

The Board authorized the DDA Executive Director to enter into a contract with Lott3MetzCrutcher to provide planning services and prepare a build-out analysis for the publicly-owned surface parking lots on the near Westside.

Specifically, the lots are located in the area bounded by US131 on the east, Seward Avenue on the west, Lake Michigan Drive on the south and Bridge Street on the north.

The goal of the study is to develop a better understanding of how this property might be leveraged to support the continued redevelopment and growth of the Downtown neighborhood.

With Board approval, staff will next negotiate a final scope of work with L3MC, with a target of initiating the project in July. The Board also approved funding for the project not to exceed $134,000.

Authorized Funding for Continued Bicycle Infrastructure Improvements

Building on a series of bike-friendly improvements approved on May 13, 2020, the Board approved additional funds for further bicycle infrastructure improvements across the Downtown neighborhood. This additional set of improvements include:

Painting bike-friendly street markings at the Monroe/Leonard intersection

Deploying bike racks to add an additional 125 bike parking spaces in key Downtown locations.

The Board approved project funding not to exceed $32,000. Design services will commence immediately and will be completed by June 30, 2020. Bike racks will be purchased and deployed sequentially throughout the rest of the year.

Authorized Funding for Continued Pedestrian Safety Improvements

The Board authorized funding for professional services to design pedestrian improvements at three key Downtown intersections:

  • Monroe Avenue at Campau
  • South Division Ave at McConnell Street
  • Lafayette Ave midblock crossing at Mary Free Bed

The design work involves preparing for the installation of Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons. The Board approved funding not to exceed $19,800 in support of the work.