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 May 12, 2021, is available on YouTube.

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

Adopted the FY2022 Budget

The DDA Board adopted the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, that among other actions, support the reignition of the Downtown business districts amidst the ongoing pandemic, advance efforts to revitalize the Grand River corridor and build safer and more people-friendly streets and public spaces. The budget organizes around the five goals of the GR Forward plan of action for Downtown and breaks down generally as follows:

  • $4.6 million to advance on GR Forward Goal 1 - Restoring the Grand River as the draw to the city, county and region.
  • $1.7 million to advance on GR Forward Goal 2 - Developing a true Downtown neighborhood home to a diverse population.
  • $2.3 million to advance on GR Forward Goal 3 - Implementing a 21st-century mobility strategy.
  • $535,000 to advance on GR Forward Goal 4 - Growing more and better jobs and ensuring the continued vitality of the local economy.
  • $3.8 million to advance on GR Forward Goal 5 - Reinvesting in public space, culture and inclusive programming.

Some key specific investments include but are not limited to support for:

  • Reconstructing and significantly enhancing Lyon Square.
  • Piloting pop-up retail spaces to help enliven public spaces and lower the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs.
  • Rehabilitating Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements at several key intersections.
  • Repairing riverfront trail sections at Fish Ladder Park and the base of the Blue Bridge.
  • Designing river edge improvements at the Public Museum and GVSU Seidman College of Business.
  • Installing a second “Portland Loo” near Van Andel Arena. The first was installed in 2020 on Division Ave.
  • Deploying the phase one of a new Downtown wayfinding system to support a positive visitor experience.
  • Designing “Switchback Park” to better connect Belknap Hill, Monroe North, the Grand River and Downtown.
  • Installing a second “transit bulb” to enhance access to the Rapid bus. The first was installed near Fulton/Sheldon.
  • Continuing to plant and maintain trees to grow a healthy canopy.

The DDA Board in April 2021 initially recommended the budget to Grand Rapids City Commission, who approved the recommendation without adjustment on April 27, 2021. The 2022 Fiscal Year begins on July 1, 2021, and runs through June 30, 2022.

Extended DASH Transit Partnership

The Board approved extending for one year a partnership to support the DASH transit service around the Downtown neighborhoods. Supporting partners include the City of Grand Rapids and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority. The City and DDA will revisit the agreement and assess any need for adjustments in summer 2022.

Authorized Funds for the Reconstruction of Ottawa Ave

The Board approved funds for reconstruction/resurfacing of Ottawa Avenue, between Michigan Street and Fulton Street. DDA funds specifically will support enhancements that include decorative streetlights, street trees, planters, landscaping, irrigation and street furniture.

The estimated total project cost is $2,829,997. The DDA’s contribution of $717,900 will match funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation (approximately $284,000) and the City of Grand Rapids Vital Streets Funds (approximately $1,828,097).