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Whistle-Stop (3/14)



  1. Huh? I am referencing the fact that throughout the world urban areas similar in size and population to metro GR tend to have a more diverse and robust transit suite and do not rely so heavily on automobiles. It's true most of my time here us spent lurking. I would "swoop" in more often if the mods didn't immediately respond to my posts in order to disparage me. Wrong. I'm just a citizen like you. It seems to me the whole argument for requiring additional downtown parking boils down to: "Grand Rapids has always been and will always will be auto-oriented." The former is not true and the latter doesn't have to be.
  2. If the City gives into suburban pressure to promote auto-oriented developments downtown, how long will it be until people begin calling for the expansion of existing roads? People have to get to and from all of those parking spaces, right? 10 years from now we will be having a conversation about adding lanes to US-131 and Fulton St instead of installing commuter rail. I can see it now: dozens of thriving businesses demolished through eminent domain in order to make room for a sparkling new expressway lane. Sounds familiar. On the world stage it's laughable that a metro area like GR is so committed to a single form of transportation.
  3. I've never received a great explanation for this, just something along the lines of "no one likes to see negative elevation numbers" or "it's so the subterranean floor and footings aren't less than zero." Maybe early drafting programs struggled with negative integers or something? Starting at 100' has probably generated a lot of excitement for projects over the years!
  4. It is fun to imagine if/how something like this could fit into Grand Rapids. The RFP paragraph regarding sustainability initiatives is great; GR can really align with that. Looking at the preferences in the RFP, I see GR coming up short with: Proximity to international airport. Yes, GRR is international, but as others have mentioned the direct flights are pretty limited. "Travel time to an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. is also an important consideration." "Direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, bus routes." The Rapid is a great system but Amazon is probably looking for more options. I can see them selecting a site as a major TOD anchor. "Ensuring optimal fiber connectivity is paramount at our HQ2 location." Not sure how GR stacks up here. If only Google Fiber had come through! Detroit would certainly be interesting. Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Toronto...Amazon will be receiving a number of viable options. The announcement is already generating so much excitement I think there will be plenty of communities tripping over themselves to offer up every tax credit and grant known to man; that is a dangerous game!
  5. There's also a big difference between venues that lock their gates outside of game days and those that are made accessible. Playing fields that double as park space are often focal points for the surrounding neighborhood(s). People jogging up and down stadium seating, for instance, or playing a pickup game of frisbee on a high school or college field.
  6. Naturally any rail line to the airport from downtown would be built to capture more than just airport traffic. One of The Rapid's busiest routes--the #6--travels in a southeasterly direction towards GRR. But, yes, it would be an expensive project and people seem to manage just fine at the moment. I think for mid-range planning purposes it is wise to consider potential corridors and maybe make strategic land acquisitions if/when they become available.
  7. I agree, MJLO. If there is a major tenant involved it's a different story. Sometimes large office towers go up with low occupancy rates and they throw the balance off for a while.
  8. The tower in OKC is the Devon Energy Center, corporate offices for a fossil fuel company. The complex has a decent looking 800 foot glass tower but it contributes little to the city street life and most of the multi-block development is occupied by a large parking garage that actually severed Main Street in the center of downtown. Build a tower like that in GR and you probably kill the office market for a few decades while simultaneously making everything in downtown look tiny. IMO, most cities are better off with half a dozen mid-size developments than with one large, striking tower. Not as exciting, I know, but better in the long run.
  9. Yeah that last image shows what a difference the finishes make. That siding looks terrible and will not age well.
  10. Love this thread and the first-hand accounts of why Census work is so tricky. Also reminds me of why the state's congressional districts are kind of a joke (Ludington and Wyoming part of the 2nd District, Battle Creek and Cedar Springs part of the 3rd).
  11. I disagree. The transportation options available for trips to FMG pale in comparison to most of GR. The Rapid gets you to within, what, one mile of the main entrance? There are maybe fifty households within walking distance of the gardens. And navigating that area on foot or bike can be dangerous. Students at Cornerstone probably don't even feel comfortable crossing the East Beltline. Neighboring land uses and connections to central GR have left FMG little choice but to focus their transportation strategy almost entirely on automobile parking.
  12. Gardens and sculpture parks come in all shapes and sizes. When the West Michigan Horticultural Society began planning the gardens in the 1980's I imagine their search for a site considered all sorts of locations. So, think back to the late 1980's, early 1990's and what was potentially available at the time: City/County golf courses (100+ acres each), Butterworth site (150+ acres but mostly unsuitable for deep-rooted plants), vacant industrial parcels along US-131, rail yards, city property along the river. Some of the gravel pit areas that eventually became Millennium Park could have worked well but you begin to run into some of the same auto-orientation issues. Now that I think about it, a Horticultural Society report on their site surveys would be really interesting to read. As I understand it, Mr. Meijer ultimately offered up the land he already owned there. Hard to resist such a donation! Like I said, FMG is great. And they have filled out the site in ways no one imagined. I just think the location is inaccessible to certain socioeconomic groups who would otherwise be interested in visiting, volunteering, or working there.
  13. Wow. Seems like every other year there is a major announcement out there! Interesting to see some of you bring up the parking. Meijer Gardens is providing the parking, not the city. And what choice does FMG have? The surrounding land uses aren't favorable for varied transportation. The city is diversifying transportation in areas where it works. FMG has always been auto-oriented and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I love the place, but from day one the location has always kind of disappointed me. It would have been interesting to see it in a more urban context like so many great botanical gardens. It will be interesting to see if FMG's continued success forces them to implement regular shuttle service to the outlying south / overflow / amphitheater lot like they sometimes have for events. Then again, if the parking lot landscaping and walkways are nice enough people probably don't mind strolling a few extra minutes.
  14. Let me know the next time "everything south of Fulton" is full. C'mon Wingbert, you can be more creative than that! Downtown has, what, 20,000+ automobile parking spaces? My point is simply that when one lot or garage fills up there are likely other options available nearby.
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