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First ‘social zones’ now open in downtown Grand Rapids

Visitors to downtown will notice four new outdoor “social zones” that were installed in public spaces over the weekend to give restaurants and retailers more room to serve customers in the era of social distancing.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the city of Grand Rapids on Friday began installing the four contiguous social zones — Monroe North, Bridge Street, Center City and Heartside — and they are now open to the public for al fresco dining and outdoor shopping.

“Ultimately, we’re hopeful these moves help provide a strong foundation for economic recovery in Grand Rapids,” said Andy Guy, chief outcomes officer for DGRI.

The zones include tables and chairs where patrons can eat takeout meals and drink beer or wine purchased to-go from restaurants in sealed containers. The areas are separated from traffic by concrete barriers to ensure the safety of patrons.

They are all administered by DGRI, which will help with garbage removal, table cleaning and other basic place management services.

The city described impacts on traffic as “low level” and provided information on parking and transportation options for visiting the zones on its website.

The zone locations are as follows:

The social zones program was announced in late May as part of the city’s economic recovery efforts to help businesses jumpstart their daily operations after three months of indoor dining restrictions.

Social zones can be established by permit on public property, streets and sidewalks.

“The idea is simply to let restaurants serve more customers while allowing those who don’t want to go indoors yet to feel safe,” said Lou Canfield, the city’s acting assistant director of design, development and community engagement.

“We are ready to work with interested businesses and business organizations to make it work for them.”

Restaurants and retailers within the four DGRI-administered social zones that want to participate in the expanded space can contact Mark Miller, managing director of planning and design for DGRI, at (616) 719-4610 or

Businesses in other areas of Grand Rapids can find out more about establishing a social zone in their neighborhood here.


Posted By: Grand Rapids Business Journal on June 23, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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