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.

To maintain a high level of openness and transparency, the full recording of the live-streamed DDA Board meeting on December 14, 2022, is available on YouTube.

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

Approved Funding for Division Avenue Reconstruction Design

The Board authorized funding for the DDA's share of design services for the reconstruction of Division Avenue from Fulton to Michigan.

The reconstruction of Division Avenue from Fulton to Michigan is planned for 2024/2025. The City of Grand Rapids and DGRI have partnered to redesign the street by prioritizing the goals of GR Forward, DGRI Streetscape Guidelines and the Bicycle Action Plan (adopted by the City Commission in 2019). Specifically, the redesign will incorporate dedicated and separated bike lanes, ornamental streetlighting, landscaping and street furniture.

Fund were approved not to exceed $43,480 for the DDA's share of the design work.

Approved Funding for Public Space Improvements at Veterans Memorial Park

The Board approved funding for enhancements at Veterans Memorial Park.

The enhancements align with the Goals of GR Forward and the City of Grand Rapids master plan for the park. Specifically, they include rehabilitation of the historic building on the west side of the park and a new, more accessible patio adjacent to the building. The rehabilitated building will house a year-round coffee shop operated by [Has Heart], a non-profit founded in 2011 by a Service Veteran and a designer with the mission of bringing community together through the power of art, design and fashion. The coffee shop plans to employ Veterans, sell limited retail items and display art created by Veterans.

Funds were approved not to exceed $166,000.

Approved Funding to Support Pochis Sweet Designs

The Board approved funds for a Retail Innovation Grant to support the opening of Pochis Sweet Designs at 44 Ionia Ave. SW.

Pochis Sweet Designs is a retail artisanal dessert business founded by Paola Carlson. In addition to activating a vacant storefront Downtown, the project aligns with the goals of the GR Forward Plan by diversifying the mix of Downtown retail offerings, supporting entrepreneurship and small business growth, and supporting women and minority owned business.

Funds were approved not to exceed $32,813.

Authorized Funding for Downtown Tree Plantings

The Board authorized funds for Downtown tree plantings.

In alignment with the GR Forward goal of increasing the Downtown tree canopy from 5% to 10%, DGRI continues its work to plant new trees and remediate dead, dying or non-thriving trees. This funding will support contracts with the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks (FGRP) and Stout Creek to plant 200 new trees and remediate 53 planting sites in 2023.

Contracts were authorized with FGRP and Stout Creek not to exceed $127,400 and $63,145, respectively.

Approved Funding ArtPrize Event Sponsorship

The Board approved funds for major event sponsorship of ArtPrize 2023.

Funds were approved not to exceed $50,000.