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A look at 6 projects in Grand Rapids authority’s 2020 budget

Renovations at Lyon Square and Calder Plaza, street improvements on Division Avenue, and sprucing up the outdoor plaza near Van Andel Arena are among the priorities outlined in the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority’s 2020 budget.

Tim Kelly, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the entity that oversees the DDA, provided an overview of the DDA’s $11.2 million budget last week. The DDA and the Grand Rapids City Commission must sign off on the spending plan before it goes into effect.

Here’s a look at some of the projects included in the budget:

Lyon Square

The DDA’s has budgeted $900,000 for construction for the Lyon Square project, which aims to revitalize the riverfront park located between the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place convention center on Lyon Street NW.

The organization’s budget also shows $359,267 in bond payments for the project, which aims to enhance the area by adding more greenspace and expanding access to the river.

Kelly said the project’s overall price tag is about $5 million.

The project has been under discussion for years, but Kelly said he anticipates construction will start during the DDA’s 2020 fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. He said Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. expects to receive construction bids back next week “which will give us a better understanding of project cost.”

Calder Plaza

Funding is also included in the budget for the redevelopment of Calder Plaza, the vast open space along Ottawa Avenue NW that connects the iconic La Grande Vitesse sculpture with Grand Rapids City Hall and the Kent County Administration Building.

Kelly said $1.5 million is included in the DDA’s 2020 budget — along with another $1.5 million in 2021 — for the project. It’s expected to add trees and other greenery, as well as a pavilion and space for a café. The idea is to breathe new life into the plaza and make it more pedestrian friendly destination.

Construction could start later this year or in 2021, Kelly said.

Previous presentations by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. to the Grand Rapids City Commission indicated the first phase of the project could cost $5.9 million.

Kelly said DGRI is in conversations with the city about how to finance the project. He also said other sources of funding are being examined.

“Given the high-profile nature of Calder Plaza, and its iconic status in the community, I think we would also branch out beyond the folks that have office space on the plaza and potentially look at fundraising,” he said.

Division Avenue construction

The DDA has budgeted $600,000 to assist with a city of Grand Rapids project that will reconstruct a quarter-mile stretch of Division Avenue between Cherry Street SE and Wealthy Street.

Kelly said the dollars will be used to add in “pedestrian friendly” amenities, such as new lighting, and “green infrastructure.” Green infrastructure elements include areas along the sidewalk for plants and stormwater management, he said.

Construction is expected to start in April or May of 2020.

Kelly said the project will include a full street reconstruction, including the addition of a street median.

Van Andel Arena plaza

The DDA is working with a consultant to determine how to make the plaza in front of the Van Andel Arena livelier and more attractive to event attendees and pedestrians.

That could include adding seating, new lighting and trees to the area, Kelly said. He said DGRI is working with the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, which owns the arena, to make the improvements.

The DDA has budgeted $1 million for the project. Work could begin later this year, Kelly said.

“If there’s an event and people are queuing up to get inside there they have a place to rest,” he said, when describing the benefit of the project. “But also, on a given day, if people wanted to find some space outside to enjoy downtown it would also provide that opportunity.”

Affordable housing

Another priority in the DDA budget is affordable housing.

Kelly said the DDA is allocating $250,000 to study “how we can be useful in that space.”

“It is a community goal to maintain affordability in downtown,” he said, adding that the dollars will be used to solicit “innovative ideas to advance our goals” around the topic.

What the end product will look like is not yet clear, but Kelly said it could include participation in a specific project or “some other policy related activity.”

Downtown restroom

The DDA is also partnering with the city of Grand Rapids to build a public restroom in the city’s Heartside neighborhood, which is home to several shelters and missions serving the area’s homeless population.

Kelly said the DDA is budgeting about $100,000 for the project. An exact location for the restroom hasn’t been finalized, he said.

The Heartside Quality of Life study, conducted by the city of Grand Rapids, said public urination and defecation is a nuisance and public health problem in the neighborhood, and “creates a tremendous burden on affected business owners, the Downtown Ambassadors, facility maintenance, and others.”

 

Posted By: mlive on May 13, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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