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 February 10, 2021, is available on YouTube.

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

Authorized Additional Winter Ready Funds

The Board authorized Winter Ready Grant Program funding to support winterization efforts for as many as 20 more Downtown businesses managing through the pandemic.

Grant funds support the deployment of outdoor shelters, seating and other measures to promote safe, socially distanced business activity in the public realm through the cold-weather season.

Launched in October 2020, the grant program so far has supported the deployment of 74 temporary structures and 66 heaters to help bolster the outdoor operations at some 23 different businesses across the Downtown Development Authority district.

The Board authorized an amount not to exceed $250,000 for additional Winter Ready deployments, bringing the total authorization to $625,000 for the 2020-2021 winter season.

The Board also specifically authorized Winter Ready support for winterization efforts at the Apartment Lounge for an amount not to exceed $20,000.

Authorized Support for a Latinx Community Outreach Initiative

The Board approved funds to support a focused community engagement initiative led by the Latino Community Coalition (LCC).

The initiative aspires to uncover the history of families that helped establish the Latino community in Grand Rapids through original research, intentional outreach and community conversations.

The new understanding of Latinx history ultimately will help to inform future public space activation efforts towards the goal of continuing to grow a Downtown neighborhood that represents the diversity of culture across West Michigan and welcomes people from all walks of life.

DGRI in the past has participated in similar partnerships to inform such projects as the Black History Walking Tour and the Women’s Way Alley Activation Initiative.

The Board approved funds not to exceed $75,000 to support this community outreach and engagement initiative.

Received a Report on Homeless Outreach Efforts

The Board received an update on City efforts at Heartside Park and homelessness initiatives.

Received a Presentation on a New Downtown Wayfinding System

The Board received a presentation on recommendations for a new Downtown Wayfinding System that aims to achieve numerous goals, including but not limited to helping visitors more easily find destinations, guiding motorists to parking spots and strengthening the local identity of the Downtown neighborhood.