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Mark Miller

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Everything posted by Mark Miller

  1. Ridiculous. I love it. Parking again. Can these people do anything except blame all of their shortcomings on parking spaces!!! We are not even talking about a lot of parking. And this quote makes me absolutely sick. How long did these poor mothers look for parking and how far away from the museum did the venture. Again, give them a pamphlet on how to use a city or tell them to stay in their suburban bunker. I am so sick of this kind of BS!! "Teresa Thome, director of the nearby Grand Rapids Children's Museum, said she would welcome a parking lot on the corner, even if it was temporary. The loss of the City Centre Parking Ramp and the lack of nearby parking has hurt attendance, Thome said. Mothers with kids in the car have gone home when they could not find parking near the museum's front door, she said. " And then we have this gem. "Unconscionable". What a drama queen!!!! "It's unconscionable," Downtown Alliance Chairman Kurt Hassberger told the city's Parking Commission on Thursday. "There is nothing historic about a grass lot." Jack Hoffman seems to be, once again, the voice of reason with these extremists. If they focused half as much of their time trying to actually get retail tenants downtown, we might not be having to deal with this discussion for 120 parking spaces (or whatever marginal amount we are talking about). The sooner Heartwell is gone the better. I long for the days of John Logie.
  2. I do not see any reason why they should not get the extension. This is an important corner, and as such, making sure that it doesn't go off half-cocked is a priority. Deals like this take a long time to come together and frankly Second Story has earned the benefit of the doubt on this one. We are not talking about Tol or Molk here.
  3. Beginning next summer, there are going to be major changes to Wealthy, east of Division, including two roundabouts and some tree-lined medians. All of these improvements will be adjacent to alot of vacant property composed primarily of surface parking lots. St. Marys owns most of this property. This is purely speculation but all of this could be the ground work for a large project that will begin to front on this vastly improved street. Would they really be doing all of this, just to have it be adjacent to surface parking lots?
  4. This is the first time that I have visited this thread, the historical images that are being dug up are wonderful. The aerial photo from GRDad shows just what the mantra of the 1960s did to the city of Grand Rapids. Such a great looking block structure and collection of neighborhoods existed before the S-Curve snaked its way through. The Daverman photo shows the utter incredible scale of the urban renewal of that era and the total disregard for what was there. We are talking about a large number of fine-grained blocks being consolidated into a few super blocks. Cleaning the palatte, simplifying the system. These photos never cease to amaze me. This oversimplification of a system in an attempt to make it more efficient continues today, in almost everything, including factory farming (food production) and big box retail, most likely with the same poor results. Interesting that when we speak of urban renewal today, we are talking about much smaller instances, removing a building here or there and sometimes single blocks, but very seldom at a mutiple block level or at a neighborhood level. At least we have returned from the edge.
  5. From Professor Lee Hardy at Calvin College: Mark your calendars again: the Jan Gehl lecture at Calvin College has been shifted to Thursday, November 9. (7:30pm at the Prince Conference Center off the Beltline) The date of the lecture was intially announced for Monday, November 6, but Gehl asked to move the date till after the Chicago Railvolution Conference in Chicago--where he is giving the keynote address--so he could accept an invitation to speak in Bogota, Columbia on the 6th. Gehl is the director of the urban design program at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and the principal of Gehl Architects, a firm specializing in urban quality consultation. Go to www.gehlarchitects.dk for more information. He is also the author of several books, including the now classic "Life Between Buildings." He informed me that his new book, "New City Life," should be out this month. Of course, we will make these books avaibable at the lecture. There's a nice article on him in Wickipedia.
  6. The Cap at Union Station in Columbus Ohio was a unique solution to this problem the quote below is from this website: http://www.continental-communities.com/pdf...0columbus%20%22 THE CAP AT UNION STATION Reconnecting a town with its neighborhoods New highways often divide communities, and bridges alone rarely solve the problem. All too frequently the divided neighborhoods develop separately, never to be reunited. The City of Columbus came up with a unique and daring solution to an old problem. Rather than creating new projects on either side of a major freeway, why not build a completely new shopping and entertainment facility right on top of it? The resulting Cap at Union Station is a $7.8 million retail development designed and built to reconnect downtown Columbus with its burgeoning Short North arts and entertainment district. The project, which opened in October 2004, effectively heals a 40-year scar created by the construction of an inner-belt highway. The void caused by the highway, called an "engineered gash" by New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, has been transformed into a seamless urban streetscape. Composed of three separate bridges - one for through-traffic across the highway, and one on either side for the retail structures - the Cap provides 2,369 square meters of leasable space, with nine retail shops and restaurants. The Cap is the first speculative urban in-fill retail project built on a bridge over a highway. Not only was it a significant engineering and administrative challenge, it was a legal one too with the city having to negotiate unique 'air rights' to build above the ground. There was no model to follow in the construction of the Cap, but the success of this innovative project could easily be replicated in the countless other cities across the world that have been divided by highways. You can see an aerial view on this website: http://www.melecaarchitecture.com/
  7. MDOT has a new division known has the Context Sensitive Street Division (or similar term). They are charged with making their streets more sensitive to the surrounding context, so that as M-21 comes into a downtown, it is not the same street section or design speed as when it is in the middle of nowhere. Much has been made of this new division. A kinder, gentler MDOT. I was at a charrette in Three Rivers Michigan, where a group of people from this group did a very nice presentation about context sensitive streets. Upon conclusion of the presentation, the first question from the business owners was about getting diagonal parking on main street (which was an MDOT R.O.W.). Their response was predictable, diagonal parking is not allowed. End of story. Too dangerous for the movement of traffic. Likewise, on the Broadway and First townhomes (a separate thread on this forum), the city traffic safety department wants a 20' diagonal at each corner for views. Why?, because that is the rule. Not for any specified engineering purpose, but just because it is a rule. Even at one way streets where there is no view issues. Even though there is the existing nunnery which violates this rule. This will effectively water down the design, both urbanistically and architecturally. It is all just BS. And again, at the end of the day, when our urban places look more like suburban places, it will be because of this kind of thing. When the design of the public realm falls under the control of traffic engineers and fire chiefs.
  8. "The Michigan Health Hill area is not a transit-oriented development," said Pat Bush, public works director for the City of Grand Rapids. "I'm sure some planners would argue that. But patients and visitors are coming in from out of town. People with health issues don
  9. Jan Gehl, architect and author, has accepted an invitation by Prof Lee Hardy to speak at Calvin College on the evening of Monday, November 6. More details coming later. The GVAIA will be co-sponsoring this event. Mr. Gehl will also be one of the plenary speakers at the Railvolution conference in Chicago in November. I heard Mr. Gehl speak in California two summers ago and it was a highlight of the CNU conference. His presentation was engaging and enlightening. This would be a great presentation for anyone interested in good places -- interested citizens and professionals. I would strongly encourage people on this forum to attend this event. He is an excellent and engaging speaker, who has a wealth of experience in creating public space.
  10. I will second that motion and add that ramps should be built with flat decks in lieu of sloped decks, so if the day ever comes that there is no longer a need to store cars, the ramps can be adapted to some other use, which is not possible if the decks are sloped.
  11. Just because it is a hospital, does not mean it should be relegated to a mono-culture, where single uses and a single means of access is accepted as a norm. The suburbs have been built as mono-cultures, with obligatory sidewalks, and large concentrations of segregated uses all leading to often times sterile human habitats. We are dealing with the city here and as a result it has to be urban, otherwise it will become as banal as the suburban fringe. The richness of the urbanism of the city needs to be protected from these cancers. For the record, I am on a committee and I do state my concerns. I also choose to live in the city and raise my children here. As abberations such as this continue to water down the urbanism, it becomes an increasingly difficult place for humane habitat.
  12. One of the differences between urbanism and suburbia is the creation of a public realm. This building represents a suburban approach within what should be urban. It does not engage the street or the sidewalk, so even if a pedestrian would be using this portion of the urban public realm, it would be a relative hostile, lifeless place. The grades are no excuse, particularly when one of the most urban places in America, San Francisco, actually has real grades that people actually navigate daily. I would contend that whatever people think about the architecture of this building, that it is not urban, even though it is being forced into an urban condition. It makes me wonder if the architect ever visited the site.
  13. I am not sure that the first floor is retail. The zoning for this portion of the city does not require first floor retail on these ramps. I seem to remember that when this was before HPC, that the designers and developers were having trouble making retail fit in this particular ramp, with grade and car manuevering.
  14. This appears to be yet another building which has completely forgotten about the public realm. It appears to go as far as actually having a wall around it at the street. What does this say to the pedestrian? What does it say to anybody trying to walk down the street? What does it say about our society when we can not build urban buildings that engage and define the street? And the skywalk only further detaches this building from the public realm. Are the city of Grand Rapids streets so bad and scary that we need to create bunkers instead of well designed urban buildings? This looks like it belongs someplace under seige, maybe in Bagdad or Beirut. Where is the inspiration? How can this give anyone dignity or a sense of place? I am also sure that they are assuming that people will park across the street and use the habitrail. That is exactly the point, they are basing everything on the automobile dominated culture of America, there is absolutely no attempt made to deal with pedestrians. This kind of building should be built in some sterile office park in the suburban astroid belts, and not be defacing the city. It could also be that the final product looks just like the renderings and they are so inhumane that they are embarrassing even to this ego-maniac.
  15. Many options are being explored. The 3-3 vote poses a problem as mentioned. In some municipalities a tie vote swings to the yes side of things rather than the no side of them. This is certainly the first option that is being explored.
  16. There are some other avenues being explored at this time. It is not dead yet.
  17. Nederveld did the architecture, through design development, all of the town planning, the civil engineering and the surveying. I personally was involved with the architecture and the planning. During all of the dialogue thrown around about this project, I had heard that there were 500 spaces associated with the meijers. Unfortunately I did not verify those facts, one of the few times I have not cross checked data. The point still stands, 1000 parking spaces and very little scrutiny. Not very sound planning by the people who have been appointed to be stewards of the future for the township.
  18. It is too bad that Garden Park did not get approved, it would have been a good project, and I am not saying that simply because I am involved with it. Mosaic Properties has a great deal of money and time (and heart) invested in this endeavor and I believe that they had very good intentions to do a marquee type project. A project that would have been a very good example of how to do a project of this type. The biggest thing is the apparent inequity of the whole process. There was absolute scrutiny of the Garden Park Project with numerous workshops, studies and extensive due dilligence by the developer. Every single detail was worked out from the most minute to the biggest. The architecture is all designed. The plan is complete. The engineering is complete. The number and size of all parking spaces is defined. Every last inch of park space is calculated. All I's are dotted and T's crossed. This project has been in the works for over 1 year, just to get to this point. It is only 19 acres of mostly residential!! I have nothing against the lifestyle center in general. But the shear fact that it does not seem to have gone through the same process is assinine. Expecially considering its size, the amount of traffic it may generate (again no traffic study) and the future development that it may generate along the Beltline. It has 1,000 freaking parking spaces (Meijer at Knapp's corner has 500). This alone needs some scrutiny! Democracy in action. It also is questionable whether or not it meets the intent of the overlay district that was an agreed upon document by the people of the city, the people of the township, city planning, township planning and the various commissions. This appears to be nothing more than a pissing match initiated by a rouge township that trying to prove a point. I doubt that it is over. As an aside, there is still another lifestyle center moving ahead on the corner of Knapp and Beltline across from Celebration Village. This one, however, is in the city of Grand Rapids.
  19. ONE OF TWO DEVELOPMENTS APPROVED GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP -- The Township Board voted Tuesday on two highly scrutinized retail and residential projects. It voted unanimously in favor of the Village of Orchard Hills, to be built at the southeast corner of Three Mile Road and the East Beltline. It's to be the first lifestyle center development in West Michigan, with open-air streets and outdoor gathering spaces. Developers Robert B. Aikens & Associates and local BDR Development will proceed with the project, which will feature 388,000-square-feet of retail, including a department store, grocery and bookstore and about 50 national retailers, as well as 156 condominium units along the west side of Dunnigan Avenue. But the board tied 3-3 -- with Clerk Janice Hulbert on vacation -- on Mosaic Properties' Garden Park project, proposed for the north side of Knapp Street east of Leffingwell Avenue. Developer Brad Rottschafer was hoping to place a traditional neighborhood development at the site, which would have included 138 residential units, including live-work units, condominiums and other residential styles. Because of the tie vote, the rezoning for the project was not approved.
  20. Last night the Grand Rapids Township Commissioners, voted unanimously (6-0) to allow the lifestyle center to move forward. WITH ALMOST NO DUE DILLIGENCE. This lifestyle center is composed of 500,000 square feet of retail along the Beltline. The development does not meet the ordinance of the township. The submittal did not have a lighting plan, it did not have a traffic study and there was nothing addressed in regards to the road behind the development (Dunnigan). It sailed through the commission meeting, despite over an hour of discussion regarding it, composed mostly of citizens who expressed great concern over the project, including Lynn Rybaut (former GR City Commissioner) and Suzanne Schultz (Planning director at City of Grand Rapids). At the same meeting, the Garden Park development at the corner of Knapp and Leffingwell went down in flames, by a vote of 3-3. Conversley, the Garden Park development had a lighting plan, a landscape plan and a traffic study. It was a total of 19 acres!!!!! It also went through 4 months of scrutiny at planning workshops!!!! It was approved by the planning commission a few months ago 4-3. This development is MIXED USE and has under 10,000 square feet of retail!! It also has a variety of residential typologies that are integrated into a walk-able neighborhood. It is smart growth. This kind of political process is why many townships, including GR township, need to be seriously reevaluated. They clearly are out of control. There is no smart planning, smart growth or sustainable activity happening there. These commissioners have failed their constituents.
  21. "The Village is proposed for the Beltline and Three-Mile Road, in GR township. There is another "lifestyle center" being planned at the corner of Knapp and the Beltline, in the city of GR's annexed property. Can they both go forward? Is there enough demand for that much retail? Will they be competing for the same tenants? The one on Knapp and the Beltline is proposing 350,000+/- square feet of retail and over 100 residential units.
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