The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a funding tool that Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) administers to help catalyze public and private investment in Grand Rapids’ urban core.

Due to technical issues, a video recording of this meeting is not currently available.

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

Renewed Management Agreement Between DGRI and the Downtown Development Authority

The Board approved the extension of the management agreement between DGRI and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) was established in 2013 to bring together the staff and resources of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority (MNTIFA) and the Downtown Improvement District (DID) into one single management entity. Since it’s creation, DGRI has successfully realized this unified vision for city building and place-management and continues to implement the programs and initiatives of the GRForward master plan.

The agreement was extended through June 30, 2025.

Approved Continued Funding for Retail Retention and Attraction Initiatives

The Board approved funds to support Downtown retail businesses.

In November 2019, the City of Grand Rapids and DGRI partnered to create a Retail Retention and Attraction Initiative designed to support and attract retail businesses Downtown and throughout the City. This effort is informed by the Downtown Retail Strategy and is supported by the Retail Recruitment and Retention Specialist at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. This collaborative effort played a critical role supporting retail business partners throughout the pandemic and continues to assist in attracting new retail businesses to Downtown Grand Rapids.

Funds were approved not to exceed $107,500 to support the Retail Retention and Attraction Initiative through FY 2024.

Approved Funding to Support WIMAGE, a New Downtown Children’s Retail and Entertainment Business

The Board approved funds for a Retail Innovation Grant to support the opening of WIMAGE at 125 Ottawa Ave NW.

WIMAGE will activate a vacant storefront with a retail establishment offering children’s books, toys and clothes. The location will also serve as a studio to support the multimedia efforts of WIMAGE, including the Wimee’s Words children’s show that airs on PBS to an audience of 8 million homes across the country.

Funds were approved not to exceed $18,448.17 and the retail store is expected to open on July 1, 2022.

Approved a Liquor License for Nonla Burger on Bridge Street

The Board approved a liquor license for Nonla Burger, a new restaurant opening at 449 Bridge Street NW.

Nonla Burger is a locally owned business that will offer award winning burgers and simple, fresh food with a Vietnamese flair. It will be located next to Condado Tacos on the Bridge Street Corridor.

The owners are hoping to open to the public in mid to late fall 2022.

Approved Funding to Support Pedestrian Safety Improvements at Five Downtown Locations

The Board approved funding to support efforts to prioritize pedestrian safety at several key intersection throughout Downtown.

With support from the City of Grand Rapids’ Mobile GR department, this funding aligns with key goals from the GRForward plan to provide a stress-free pedestrian experience for all ages and abilities. Improvements include infrastructure for safer crossings on Lafayette Avenue at Mary Free Bed, at the intersection of Cherry Street and Ottawa Avenue near Rapid Central Station, at the intersection of South Division Avenue and McConnell Street, at the intersection of Monroe Avenue and Campau Avenue and at the Monroe Avenue crossing between City Hall and DeVos Place Convention Center.

Funds were approved in the amount of $407,172 and the projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.

Approved Funding for Wayfinding Improvements in the Skywalk and Support for the Design of New Wayfinding Signage in City of Grand Rapids Parking Structures

The Board approved funding to continue phased implementation of the Downtown Wayfinding Project with the fabrication and installation of Skywalk wayfinding signs, as well as the design of new wayfinding signage in Downtown parking structures owned by the City of Grand Rapids.

Funds were approved in the amount of $35,764 for Skywalk wayfinding and $43,245 for the design of parking structure wayfinding signage. The funding for the parking structure signage will be reimbursed to the DDA from Mobile GR.

The Skywalk wayfinding project is expected to be completed by the end of September 2022.

Authorized Funds for Beautification, Maintenance and Placemaking Services

The Board authorized funds for flower planting and maintenance, including additional planting locations Downtown. These funds will be supplemented by Downtown Improvement District (DID) funding.

Funds were approved not to exceed $46,385 for service in FY 2023.

Authorized Funds for Winter Lighting and Décor

The Board authorized funds to continue the holiday décor program managed by DGRI. DDA funds will specifically support the reinstallation of current displays and the installation of new lighting and décor in expansion areas prioritized by DGRI Citizen Advisors. In coordination with the reopening of Rosa Parks Circle, new lighting with a more vibrant rainbow themed color scheme will be installed.

Funds were approved not to exceed $48,000 for winter lighting and décor in FY 2023.