±

The State of Downtown Grand Rapids Retail

1,100 posts in this topic

Posted

With respect to the Gibbs study, I've heard it was huge disappointment. Thoughts? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

Posted

With respect to the Gibbs study, I've heard it was huge disappointment. Thoughts? 

 

I've heard a mix. Some of the retail business owners who were interviewed by Gibbs and spoke with him found him to be full of great ideas and vision. As to the actual report, everyone seems pretty dismissive of it, so I assume it wasn't quite what they were looking for (or it didn't contain concrete actionable items?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

My guess is that it didn't contain the concrete actionable items that they were looking for that would be easy to implement because it is what folks already wanted to see and do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

So then, what should we make of this arena district visioning plan? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

So then, what should we make of this arena district visioning plan? 

 

It hasn't been developed yet. :)  Not all studies are inherently bad. I think one thing that hindered the Gibbs report is that it came out just as Fowler was leaving and Larson was coming in. So you have all of the discussions that led to the study, and then the deliverables went to the new guy who wasn't part of the discussions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Good point. I understand the visioning plan is not yet developed, but I'm curious as to how it will be different in its aim. I vaguely recall the new DDA director's explanation, something to the effect of defining barriers to best use etc, etc, and what not. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Maybe it's just time to wave the white flag on retail DT. We have to face facts that none of the big names will ever locate right in the middle on Monroe Ave. or nearby. Those buildings were built for old-fashioned shops that were for a different era. Apple, Ikea, GAP, Best Buy or any other known chain wont put themselves in such a cramped place of little renown. They specialize in urban stores that stick out visually, and are sometimes tourist destinations of their own. The Apple store will not be next to Grand Central Market no matter how much we hope.These days the biggest shops have specific needs and are not going to be shoehorned into these tiny storefronts with little prospects for constant foot traffic.

 

If retail as we imagine it is ever going to occur it will ONLY exist in three locations:

 

12041518.jpg

 

  1. N. Monroe
  2. The area SW of Founder's
  3. South of Wealthy along S. Division 

2 is doable with a massive (mystery project) level development on both sides of the river.

 

3 is possible only with a huge shift in population and income in the surrounding area.

 

1 is the most likely because it is geographically contained, has great proximity to the part of the Grand River that doesn't look like a walled ditch, contains an existing population that skews to the higher end income wise, and has room to spill over to the other side of the river where there is even more land to develop.

 

All three have excellent highway access. If you can get something going in each location, they will ring DT nicely and will make it lucrative for smaller stores to fill in places like Monroe Center. You can also get a decent shuttle system up and running between them, negating some of the need to drive between each site. All of them can have massive parking ramps (with "free parking") so that no suburbanite will feel slighted in paying or in having to walk....far.

Edited by GR_Urbanist

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I often hear people pine for Ikea, but the metro area needs to grow at least another million before we should expect them to even consider coming here.  They're not in that many cities.  Furthermore, they NEVER build downtown.  Never ever.

 

Best Buy is going through a shrinking phase right now, and the past couple years they've contracted their brick & mortar operations.  I'd be surprised if they started building new big box stores anywhere, let alone downtown.

 

You can squeeze a retail center just about anywhere.  But I think staying close to the Convention Center & hotels is best.  There's still room to grow, maybe not on Monroe Center directly, but still in that old "Grab Corners" area.

Edited by RegalTDP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Never an IDEA downtown? New Have CT has one right at the edge of downtown, part of the urban development of the old industrial waterfront. Locationally, it's roughly like putting it up at Leonard and Monroe. The real sadness is that it lies right next door, impinges on etc a fabulous building by Michael Breuer -- the Pirelli building. Quite the controversy when IKEA came in 10 years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I've been by the New Haven Ikea, and I hadn't thought of that as even close to downtown.  Sure, maybe within sight of the buildings; however, Long Wharf struck me as this wide open post-industrial landmass that takes up a giant swath of the city, dwarfing the other neighborhoods, without really being one itself.  And the Ikea isn't on the edge of any neighborhood; it's by the turnpike, across from the water.  What's especially telling is even with all that space, Ikea STILL had trouble wedging its ridiculous parking lot in, and hence they had to cut into the Pirelli building.  Hopefully we can agree that such a monstrosity doesn't weave the kind of "urban fabric" we're looking for in GR's downtown.

 

If I was to compare Long Wharf to somewhere in GR, I would say Butterworth Landfill (if it were usable land).  I admit revitalized waterfront districts are common locations for big box stores, but GR obviously doesn't have one. 

 

It's funny we're talking about this, I actually went to an Ikea today :shades:

Edited by RegalTDP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Never an IDEA downtown? New Have CT has one right at the edge of downtown, part of the urban development of the old industrial waterfront. Locationally, it's roughly like putting it up at Leonard and Monroe. The real sadness is that it lies right next door, impinges on etc a fabulous building by Michael Breuer -- the Pirelli building. Quite the controversy when IKEA came in 10 years ago.

 

Doesn't look like a downtown location to me:

 

http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=qwggjt8xq1qz&lvl=17&dir=0&sty=b&where1=new%20haven%2C%20connecticut&ss=yp.ikea~pg.1&form=LMLTCC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

That area looks more like a Market & 131 to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

That's an excellent addition to downtown! Not a comic book fan, but it seems like a perfect fit and a good destination retailer.

 

Joe

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I'm curious about the bakery. To what is that referencing? Great to see more life on Monroe!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Really excited about the comic book store. Just in time for Neil Gaiman's new Sandman series!

 

FYI - Macatawa is almost finished with their renovations next to RDV on Ottawa. Looks great.  

 

Occasionally there are lights on in Morton House....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It looks like Rockford Construction is refitting the space that was occupied by Schulers. Any idea what's going in there? It's a big space. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It looks like Rockford Construction is refitting the space that was occupied by Schulers. Any idea what's going in there? It's a big space. 

 

I'll see if I can find out.

 

I didn't realize they were adding a floor above the MadCap/Karl building. This article said partially enclosed deck but it looks like a lot of steel for a deck.

 

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2013/11/one_of_downtowns_oldest_buildi.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Holy cow, I think I remember that Fanny Farmer Candies.  How long ago did that close?  I feel so old.

 

You kids get off my lawn!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

DeVos family members also own the old Union Bank Building right next door to Madcap/Karl, at 98 Ottawa. They spent some money in the last couple of years renovating space there too. http://viadesign-inc.com/installations/commercial/corporate-projects/executive-headquarters/

 

I wish they would buy 96 Monroe Center, on the other side of the Karl building.  That building actually had a very attractive facade until someone removed it in the 1940's or 50's. What we see today is the 3rd facade. I think it's pretty bad.

Edited by mpchicago

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I'm a bit of a newbie, but I've been lurking for years! I've finally moved downtown (as emptynesters) so it's time for me to jump in.

 

There has been some activity at 53 Monroe Center it is a small retail space between Charlie's Tailor Shop and West Coast Coffee. It's a small space, but I'm curious what might be going in there. I'm hoping it gets some exterior updating as well as it's the last aluminum frame storefront on the block. 

 

I'm curious what other retail, small or large, people would like to see? And don't say a grocery store that is such a given that it doesn't need noting!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Welcome DowntownGurl- I'll have to check out the space you're talking about. 

 

As far as downtown retail, I hope we can attract more niche retailers like Vault of Midnight. Destination stores that people will go out of the way to visit. If it catches on, bigger retailers would follow. 

 

One of my wish list stores (which seems a little boring)- I'd love to see a Radio Shack or some equivalent. I'm always losing cables, etc. and haven't found a good place downtown to purchase the items. 

 

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Welcome DowntownGurl- I'll have to check out the space you're talking about. 

 

As far as downtown retail, I hope we can attract more niche retailers like Vault of Midnight. Destination stores that people will go out of the way to visit. If it catches on, bigger retailers would follow. 

 

One of my wish list stores (which seems a little boring)- I'd love to see a Radio Shack or some equivalent. I'm always losing cables, etc. and haven't found a good place downtown to purchase the items. 

 

Joe

 

Radio Shack is getting ready to do a complete rebranding of their stores. You never know, they might end up downtown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

When I was reading about Lee & Birch I came across another GRBJ article about a new clothing store opening on Bridge Street.  So I guess it's not all bad news.

 

http://www.grbj.com/articles/79436

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

±