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New census definition puts Metro Grand Rapids at 1,000,000+

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New census estimates for 2012 place the City of Grand Rapids as the fastest growing community in the state of Michigan. GR gained 1,386 residents last year as estimated by the Census department.

 

Can you link that data? 

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From what I understand aren't population estimates at the municipal level just county estimates divided among municipalities proportionately?  Or is that incorrect?

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That link isn't working for me, but this one shows GR at 190,411:

 

http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

 

You can't compare NYC to GR.

 

Well, another perspective is that GR is still ranked at #123, which is the same as it was in 2010.  1.26% growth keeps pace with the Great Lakes region, but isn't the best (Madison and Des Moines grew at 3% and 1.6% respectively), and doesn't gain ground at all on a national level.

 

A couple other things I noticed, which may be old news...

     -- Ann Arbor passed Lansing.  Ann Arbor, which grew 1.92% since last year, is MI's 5th largest city.

     -- Flint is 515 people away from dropping below 100,000.  South Bend is 800 away.

Edited by RegalTDP

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Yep... I suspect most people think of MSAs as a measurement of urban population, but it's really a measurement of a city's economic footprint... Which is a lot further sprawling in today's commuter culture, and way too fluid to measure with any real precision.  So standards for determining boundary lines or commuting thresholds are always going to be arbitrary, no matter what.  

 

That being said, I really don't see how thinking of Allegan County as Holland's geographic economy is helpful.

 

So while some complain that lopping Ottawa into our MSA seems arbitrary, it's not THAT arbitrary, because it reflects the regional economy. If West Michigan's economy was firing on all cylinders, it would bring more steady commuters from the adjacent counties, including Muskegon and Allegan; the MSA would jump to 1.3 million just like that, without a single person selling or buying a house.  In other words, MSAs feed on economic growth in addition to population growth, and the two are intertwined.

 

It's amazing to think that 1.3 million people actually live here.  We should start acting like it.

 

 

Agree in principle; the problem is there'd be no way to do that uniformly in the US, because different states have different civil divisions.  States have their own ways of defining a township...  The 6x6 squares as we think of them are (generally) unique to the Great Lakes region.  A lot of states don't have townships at all, and people living outside of any city's limits are just residents of the county.  And as we all know, with suburban sprawl and all that jazz, the non-city county populations are where MSAs are growing the fastest, so they have to be counted.  The only thing that (almost!!) all states have in common are counties.

 

...Or zip codes, maybe?

 

 

Townships in MI suck, specifically Charter Twps. they basically take away from the cities, on a national level since most states don't have townships, and they are not incorporated, they are almost like no-mans land and do not have an official population in some counts. Look at Canton and Clinton TWps, almost 100k, could be the largest city in the state in some states, yet unincorporated. They are created to prevent the big cities that made them from not annexing and expanding as the urban areas grow, which would be a more true representation of that actual size, another reason why GR metro population of around 1.3 mil does not act like it, GR is only 190k! thats less than 15%! there is no id to that. Look at a city like Tulsa, more recognized on a national level, yet a smaller CSA but there is just under 400k in the city and just under 1 mil in the CSA, 40%, its the 2nd biggest in the state yest acts like a larger city from the outsiders perspective (taller buildings, couple D1 schools, a pro team, wider highways ect.). Another reason I believe there is no identity is the lack of sports teams and D1 colleges. Just teh attention they bring and the branding that goes with them creates identity in the community and even on a national level more recognition. 

 

If GR truly represented an area of 1.3 mil I think some border changes with surrounding communities to better represent the community and have a population more around 300k, the 44sq miles amiba shaped GR does not represent all the city that it is. There are also CDP that have an identidy but not officially like Cutlerville and Comstock Park, the townships just skew things. To better connect with the surrounding metro area, needs better transit, wider highways, mass transit and make it easier for people to get around. If GVSU moved up to D1 sports that would create more national recognition and a better identity in the community, as well as more sports teams for GR, bring arena league back, bring NBA-D league, professional soccer or something, re-brand the whitecap with a GR symbol and sell more hats, ect.

 

Alright kind of a rant but I've always thought GR has a personality disorder where on some levels it seems like a little "big city" yet does not want to be and is holding itself back to be an overgrown "little city"

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Well, another perspective is that GR is still ranked at #123, which is the same as it was in 2010.  1.26% growth keeps pace with the Great Lakes region, but isn't the best (Madison and Des Moines grew at 3% and 1.6% respectively), and doesn't gain ground at all on a national level.

 

A couple other things I noticed, which may be old news...

     -- Ann Arbor passed Lansing.  Ann Arbor, which grew 1.92% since last year, is MI's 5th largest city.

     -- Flint is 515 people away from dropping below 100,000.  South Bend is 800 away.

 

 

On a national level? You may want to temper your expectations a bit. :) Grand Rapids will be lucky if it makes it to Tier II in 50 years. You just have to accept it as it is, a modestly growing mid-sized midwestern city.

 

Even IF Grand Rapids MSA was to become a boom town like a Southern city (not sure how that would happen to be honest), if it jumped up to 2% growth a year for the next couple of decades, it'd only grow about 100,000/decade. But the region would need some massive development projects, like a military base popped out of nowhere, or the opening of a major government research center, or a Research Triangle Park type project started now, today. Or a ton of natural gas discovered up in Alpine Township.

 

So in 50 years (2063) it'd be the size of Indianapolis, if the growth levels pick up and stay up.

 

Interestingly, I researched Oklahoma City a bit after the tornado this past week and it grew by 200,000 people since the last big tornado in 1999. It's difficult to figure out why, but it does have Tinker Air Force Base and is home to the FTA and some major gas/petroleum companies (and it has a large Dell manufacturing presence). It's also sunny and dry much of the year.

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You can't compare NYC to GR.

 

The comparison was not intended as a judgement. Rather, I find it absolutely phenomenal that the equivalent size of Grand Rapids moved into NYC in just 2 years.

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The comparison was not intended as a judgement. Rather, I find it absolutely phenomenal that the equivalent size of Grand Rapids moved into NYC in just 2 years.

 

I can believe it. Check out population growth of Toronto. It's mind-blowing.

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On a national level? You may want to temper your expectations a bit. :) Grand Rapids will be lucky if it makes it to Tier II in 50 years. You just have to accept it as it is, a modestly growing mid-sized midwestern city.

 

[...]

 

All true... But I'm not expecting Southern-style Boom Town or Indianapolis.  I just don't want GR to continue fading, despite the modest growth.

Edited by RegalTDP

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All true... But I'm not expecting Southern-style Boom Town or Indianapolis.  I just don't want GR to continue fading, despite the modest growth.

 

It's going to take some serious balls to get Grand Rapids moving. It's not necessarily fading, but it is getting harder and harder and harder to compete with other metro areas now. I think one big problem is that too many people are happy with how it is now.

 

Imagine the kind of blow that would happen if one of the local corporate HQ's not only decided not to build downtown, but decided to move out of the region...

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It's going to take some serious balls to get Grand Rapids moving. It's not necessarily fading, but it is getting harder and harder and harder to compete with other metro areas now. I think one big problem is that too many people are happy with how it is now.

 

Imagine the kind of blow that would happen if one of the local corporate HQ's not only decided not to build downtown, but decided to move out of the region...

 

I totally agree with this. It is getting harder to "compete" and I definitely think there is a rather large homogeneous population (maybe due to being on a peninsula?) that has a content attitude and I know there are a lot of people that just dont get out much to see what else is out there in comparison so they are happy with the small progression going on. As for one of the corporate businesses leaving f course that would be a blow but I think we are in a good position to have  a rather diverse amount of healthy businesses in the area and should focus on growing them as well as attractive new outsiders and potentially attract a new outside headquarter to relocate here. 

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Having a new restaurant, bar, or retailer is all fine and well but I would happily sacrifice dozens of them for one modest sized, well-paying, benefits provided manufacturing firm.  

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Townships in MI suck, specifically Charter Twps. they basically take away from the cities, on a national level since most states don't have townships, and they are not incorporated, they are almost like no-mans land and do not have an official population in some counts. Look at Canton and Clinton TWps, almost 100k, could be the largest city in the state in some states, yet unincorporated. They are created to prevent the big cities that made them from not annexing and expanding as the urban areas grow, which would be a more true representation of that actual size, another reason why GR metro population of around 1.3 mil does not act like it, GR is only 190k! thats less than 15%! there is no id to that. Look at a city like Tulsa, more recognized on a national level, yet a smaller CSA but there is just under 400k in the city and just under 1 mil in the CSA, 40%, its the 2nd biggest in the state yest acts like a larger city from the outsiders perspective (taller buildings, couple D1 schools, a pro team, wider highways ect.). Another reason I believe there is no identity is the lack of sports teams and D1 colleges. Just teh attention they bring and the branding that goes with them creates identity in the community and even on a national level more recognition. 

 

If GR truly represented an area of 1.3 mil I think some border changes with surrounding communities to better represent the community and have a population more around 300k, the 44sq miles amiba shaped GR does not represent all the city that it is. There are also CDP that have an identidy but not officially like Cutlerville and Comstock Park, the townships just skew things. To better connect with the surrounding metro area, needs better transit, wider highways, mass transit and make it easier for people to get around. If GVSU moved up to D1 sports that would create more national recognition and a better identity in the community, as well as more sports teams for GR, bring arena league back, bring NBA-D league, professional soccer or something, re-brand the whitecap with a GR symbol and sell more hats, ect.

 

Alright kind of a rant but I've always thought GR has a personality disorder where on some levels it seems like a little "big city" yet does not want to be and is holding itself back to be an overgrown "little city"

 

 

Um, I think I get what you're saying - that unincorporated townships hurt a city's self-identification... I don't think that's true.  Yes, charter townships may have created issues for cities and metro areas, but that's not one of them.  I don't believe GR has a problem with self-identification, either in the city, suburbs, or townships; if anything, all those distinct places add layers to the regional idea of what is Grand Rapids, which helps, not hurts.  And I don't know where you get the conclusion that Tulsa is "more recognized on a national level."

 

But I agree with you on the personality disorder and with GRDad that people are too content.  In fact, it seems like an exceptional amount of people in GR are afraid of it getting bigger.  I don't have any data on this, but it's just an impression I get in my hometown that I don't often see elsewhere.  I also think, when people bemoan new developments taking away parking, that's what they're really complaining about.

Edited by RegalTDP

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The townships have served (and continue to serve) a valuable function, though.  You presume that people want to or should be a part of the larger adjoining city.  However, in recent history, this has rarely proven to be desirable from a perspective other than the canard of "economic development"--as if simply relabeling your population can change your fortunes.  While it is certainly a debatable point, larger Michigan cities have very often been poorly managed.  Without Charter Townships, we would likely be in a far worse position than we are now.  Ultimately, Charter Townships provide a useful mechanism for each locality to have self-governance, and avoid many of the problems with high legacy costs and failing school systems plaguing the larger cities.  Would Detroit be the stinking mess it is today if it were ten smaller cities?  I doubt it.

 

Where Grand Rapids is concerned, what you're really complaining about are not Charter Townships, but the surrounding cities of Kentwood, Wyoming, and Walker, which are the remnants of the townships that once surrounded Grand Rapids (Paris, Wyoming, and Walker), and which were incorporated to prevent further annexation by Grand Rapids.  In 1978, the Charter Township Act was amended to provide enhanced "annexation protection" to Charter Townships, which did away with at least some of the need to incorporate.  Thus, the only Township that remains around Grand Rapids is Grand Rapids Township, which before 1978 was so relatively undeveloped that Grand Rapids apparently saw little need to annex it, and the residents presumably saw little need to incorporate. 

 

Candidly, I'm not sure I care to picture what the area would look like today if Grand Rapids had been able to suck up all of these surrounding areas--Detroit West? Granted, as these surrounding communities age, they are also facing their share of problems, and the tables may turn one day to the point where they want to be annexed or merge with Grand Rapids (although circumstances getting to that point are rather hard to imagine), but they were able to stave off a lot of the problems facing Grand Rapids for a relatively long time. 

 

East Grand Rapids, on the other hand, has historically been a fairly small, tightly-knit, dense community.  It is also one of the most desirable places to live in the entire area.  If experience is any guide, being the biggest city on the block is not everything.  Instead of continued municipal bloat, perhaps we should be talking about making each ward a largely self-governing enclave.  Instead of asking what would happen if we were bigger, perhaps we should ask what would happen if we were smaller (or at least if our political subdivisions were).  But I suppose I'm wandering down a bit of a rabbit trail here...

 

 



Townships in MI suck, specifically Charter Twps. they basically take away from the cities, on a national level since most states don't have townships, and they are not incorporated, they are almost like no-mans land and do not have an official population in some counts. Look at Canton and Clinton TWps, almost 100k, could be the largest city in the state in some states, yet unincorporated. They are created to prevent the big cities that made them from not annexing and expanding as the urban areas grow. [...]

 

Edited by x99

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The townships have served (and continue to serve) a valuable function, though.  You presume that people want to or should be a part of the larger adjoining city.  However, in recent history, this has rarely proven to be desirable from a perspective other than the canard of "economic development"--as if simply relabeling your population can change your fortunes.  While it is certainly a debatable point, larger Michigan cities have very often been poorly managed.  Without Charter Townships, we would likely be in a far worse position than we are now.  Ultimately, Charter Townships provide a useful mechanism for each locality to have self-governance, and avoid many of the problems with high legacy costs and failing school systems plaguing the larger cities.  Would Detroit be the stinking mess it is today if it were ten smaller cities?  I doubt it.

 

Where Grand Rapids is concerned, what you're really complaining about are not Charter Townships, but the surrounding cities of Kentwood, Wyoming, and Walker, which are the remnants of the townships that once surrounded Grand Rapids (Paris, Wyoming, and Walker), and which were incorporated to prevent further annexation by Grand Rapids.  In 1978, the Charter Township Act was amended to provide enhanced "annexation protection" to Charter Townships, which did away with at least some of the need to incorporate.  Thus, the only Township that remains around Grand Rapids is Grand Rapids Township, which before 1978 was so relatively undeveloped that Grand Rapids apparently saw little need to annex it, and the residents presumably saw little need to incorporate. 

 

Candidly, I'm not sure I care to picture what the area would look like today if Grand Rapids had been able to suck up all of these surrounding areas--Detroit West? Granted, as these surrounding communities age, they are also facing their share of problems, and the tables may turn one day to the point where they want to be annexed or merge with Grand Rapids (although circumstances getting to that point are rather hard to imagine), but they were able to stave off a lot of the problems facing Grand Rapids for a relatively long time. 

 

East Grand Rapids, on the other hand, has historically been a fairly small, tightly-knit, dense community.  It is also one of the most desirable places to live in the entire area.  If experience is any guide, being the biggest city on the block is not everything.  Instead of continued municipal bloat, perhaps we should be talking about making each ward a largely self-governing enclave.  Instead of asking what would happen if we were bigger, perhaps we should ask what would happen if we were smaller (or at least if our political subdivisions were).  But I suppose I'm wandering down a bit of a rabbit trail here...

 

Twp. have no character, at least Kentwood and Wyoming ect are recognized as incorporated places which is a step up from a charter twp. Cities like EGR and Grandville have character and should remain separate from GR. And although true when the other suburban cities incorporated it was to keep GR from annexing,  charter twps were create to do the same thing without being a city but my general opinion of how it should be which will never happen is expand the city limits as the urbanized area grows, kind of like they do elsewhere and obviously in Canada. If this was not the case I think GR could look more like Indy, maybe not quite as big but certainly a larger population and more of a central identity. Twps only purpose is to prevent incorporation which in turn makes an area appear a lot smaller than it is, people may want to live there if there are lower taxes but what its coming to in MI is large square twps with suburbia development some with own police and fire and schools ect and acting as if they are city but not incorporating or joining the larger city that it wants next to but not a part of. So all in all since they have very little character of their own, they take away from the city by not being a part of it. 

 

About Tulsa, thats just an observation, its certainly known more in the sports worlds but I travel a lot and you would be surprised outside of W MI how little recognition GR gets, when you just say I'm from "Grand Rapids" people think MN or say wheres that? or even people from the east side surprised that GR is actually the second largest city in the state. Why do you think people are often pleasantly surprised when they visit? probably because they were thinking it would be just another Cedar Rapids IA, or Columbus GA, 

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townships are a worthless layer of government.  There is nothing they provide that the county can't also provide. meanwhile there is an extra layer of imbeciles that need to be payed for.  I read a book detailing third world countries and how governmental structure prevented development. the bottom line is that the more layers of government the more backwards the country and the greater the obstacles to successful development of pretty much everything.

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The townships have served (and continue to serve) a valuable function, though.  You presume that people want to or should be a part of the larger adjoining city.  However, in recent history, this has rarely proven to be desirable from a perspective other than the canard of "economic development"--as if simply relabeling your population can change your fortunes.  While it is certainly a debatable point, larger Michigan cities have very often been poorly managed.  Without Charter Townships, we would likely be in a far worse position than we are now.  Ultimately, Charter Townships provide a useful mechanism for each locality to have self-governance, and avoid many of the problems with high legacy costs and failing school systems plaguing the larger cities.  Would Detroit be the stinking mess it is today if it were ten smaller cities?  I doubt it.

 

Where Grand Rapids is concerned, what you're really complaining about are not Charter Townships, but the surrounding cities of Kentwood, Wyoming, and Walker, which are the remnants of the townships that once surrounded Grand Rapids (Paris, Wyoming, and Walker), and which were incorporated to prevent further annexation by Grand Rapids.  In 1978, the Charter Township Act was amended to provide enhanced "annexation protection" to Charter Townships, which did away with at least some of the need to incorporate.  Thus, the only Township that remains around Grand Rapids is Grand Rapids Township, which before 1978 was so relatively undeveloped that Grand Rapids apparently saw little need to annex it, and the residents presumably saw little need to incorporate. 

 

Candidly, I'm not sure I care to picture what the area would look like today if Grand Rapids had been able to suck up all of these surrounding areas--Detroit West? Granted, as these surrounding communities age, they are also facing their share of problems, and the tables may turn one day to the point where they want to be annexed or merge with Grand Rapids (although circumstances getting to that point are rather hard to imagine), but they were able to stave off a lot of the problems facing Grand Rapids for a relatively long time. 

 

East Grand Rapids, on the other hand, has historically been a fairly small, tightly-knit, dense community.  It is also one of the most desirable places to live in the entire area.  If experience is any guide, being the biggest city on the block is not everything.  Instead of continued municipal bloat, perhaps we should be talking about making each ward a largely self-governing enclave.  Instead of asking what would happen if we were bigger, perhaps we should ask what would happen if we were smaller (or at least if our political subdivisions were).  But I suppose I'm wandering down a bit of a rabbit trail here...

 

To me this assumes a lot.   You're more or less saying that if say Detroit and Wayne County were Coterminous that then all of Wayne County would then look like the east side of Detroit.   I find it short sighted.   Every major city has parts that are horrible and losing,  and parts that are robust or resurgent.  Perhaps it should also be considered that in a scenario like a coterminous Detroit/Wayne that the affluent and stable communities of the county could then soften the reputaion and population desintegration the city is known for.  Perhaps under that light certain companies and brands would be less apprehensive to invest.  It's amazing how much that stuff can do for appeal.  (Before anyone says it i'm well aware of what such a suggestion would cause  the people of the down river and western Wayne communities to do,  its just hypothetical.)

 

Putting that argument in terms of GR,  Not to split hairs here but GR TWP is not the only TWP to touch the City,   Plainfield Twp with it's 30 plus thousand residents borders GR to the north  Right next to GR twp.  Having a larger population would help Grand Rapids quite a bit when it comes to things like retail amenities, and other investments.  As with the metro population we now have a million + people and all they did was take away two rural counties, and add in one big one.  Nothing changed in the region, the census bureau decided to do different math.   The dumb S***s sitting in brand expansions offices in places far removed from the midwest arent smart enough to figure this out.  They just look at a demography printout and see there's a metro area with a million plus people where their brand isn't represnted.   So if you think that removing redundant layers of government is pointless I find you mistaken. Where townships have created less space for corrupt city government to cover more land area.  They diminish the potential for the region as a whole, making it harder for Michigan Cities to truly represent their urban size. A GR that has merged with it's surrounding communities and sits on a list of the top 50 cities in the country instead of the top 150 would definitely be more apt to get noticed.   Someone who sits in an office in  LA deciding where to build the next cheese cake factory is going to notice a city much bigger.  They arent going to blink at a city with less people than the suburb they live in.

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The townships have served (and continue to serve) a valuable function, though.  You presume that people want to or should be a part of the larger adjoining city.  However, in recent history, this has rarely proven to be desirable from a perspective other than the canard of "economic development"--as if simply relabeling your population can change your fortunes.  While it is certainly a debatable point, larger Michigan cities have very often been poorly managed.  Without Charter Townships, we would likely be in a far worse position than we are now.  Ultimately, Charter Townships provide a useful mechanism for each locality to have self-governance, and avoid many of the problems with high legacy costs and failing school systems plaguing the larger cities.  Would Detroit be the stinking mess it is today if it were ten smaller cities?  I doubt it. [...]

 

Candidly, I'm not sure I care to picture what the area would look like today if Grand Rapids had been able to suck up all of these surrounding areas--Detroit West? Granted, as these surrounding communities age, they are also facing their share of problems, and the tables may turn one day to the point where they want to be annexed or merge with Grand Rapids (although circumstances getting to that point are rather hard to imagine), but they were able to stave off a lot of the problems facing Grand Rapids for a relatively long time.  [...]

 

These are pretty incredulous claims.  To explain away the roots of postwar suburbanization as some movement toward better-managed cities is a gross oversimplification.  It's too complicated a subject to compare to counterfactuals that would have been impossible under the last century's housing policies and practices.

 

And as for Detroit, what of Hamtramck and Highland Park?  They are small, dense, self-governing enclaves, but I would not consider them bastions of desirability.  In fact, those cities have been soup sandwiches as long as Detroit has.

 

That being said, I have nothing against the suburbs and townships (I'm a loyal Kentwoodite).  They are what they are, they're not going away, and pushing a "One County-One City-One School District" program won't work.  However, there's plenty of precedent for consolidating city and county governments in different degrees that have been effective elsewhere.  I haven't been up to speed on the One Kent Coalition, but I think the whole subject is a discussion worth having.

 

About Tulsa, thats just an observation, its certainly known more in the sports worlds but I travel a lot and you would be surprised outside of W MI how little recognition GR gets, when you just say I'm from "Grand Rapids" people think MN or say wheres that? or even people from the east side surprised that GR is actually the second largest city in the state. Why do you think people are often pleasantly surprised when they visit? probably because they were thinking it would be just another Cedar Rapids IA, or Columbus GA, 

 

LOL, I don't know where you've been traveling, but I can't say I've ever been confused for a Minnesotan.**  I've lived on both coasts, and I'd say most people are aware there's a city in Michigan called Grand Rapids, and nothing more.  But that's pretty much the extent of their knowledge of most cities they haven't been to.  I wouldn't expect any better.

 

**Actually though, in my lifetime, I've met one person from Grand Rapids, MN.  She was annoyed with how people kept thinking she was from Michigan.  Seriously.

Edited by RegalTDP

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The townships have served (and continue to serve) a valuable function, though.  You presume that people want to or should be a part of the larger adjoining city.  However, in recent history, this has rarely proven to be desirable from a perspective other than the canard of "economic development"--as if simply relabeling your population can change your fortunes.  While it is certainly a debatable point, larger Michigan cities have very often been poorly managed.  Without Charter Townships, we would likely be in a far worse position than we are now.  Ultimately, Charter Townships provide a useful mechanism for each locality to have self-governance, and avoid many of the problems with high legacy costs and failing school systems plaguing the larger cities.  Would Detroit be the stinking mess it is today if it were ten smaller cities?  I doubt it.

 

Where Grand Rapids is concerned, what you're really complaining about are not Charter Townships, but the surrounding cities of Kentwood, Wyoming, and Walker, which are the remnants of the townships that once surrounded Grand Rapids (Paris, Wyoming, and Walker), and which were incorporated to prevent further annexation by Grand Rapids.  In 1978, the Charter Township Act was amended to provide enhanced "annexation protection" to Charter Townships, which did away with at least some of the need to incorporate.  Thus, the only Township that remains around Grand Rapids is Grand Rapids Township, which before 1978 was so relatively undeveloped that Grand Rapids apparently saw little need to annex it, and the residents presumably saw little need to incorporate. 

 

Candidly, I'm not sure I care to picture what the area would look like today if Grand Rapids had been able to suck up all of these surrounding areas--Detroit West? Granted, as these surrounding communities age, they are also facing their share of problems, and the tables may turn one day to the point where they want to be annexed or merge with Grand Rapids (although circumstances getting to that point are rather hard to imagine), but they were able to stave off a lot of the problems facing Grand Rapids for a relatively long time. 

 

East Grand Rapids, on the other hand, has historically been a fairly small, tightly-knit, dense community.  It is also one of the most desirable places to live in the entire area.  If experience is any guide, being the biggest city on the block is not everything.  Instead of continued municipal bloat, perhaps we should be talking about making each ward a largely self-governing enclave.  Instead of asking what would happen if we were bigger, perhaps we should ask what would happen if we were smaller (or at least if our political subdivisions were).  But I suppose I'm wandering down a bit of a rabbit trail here...

 

 

I don't think you can employ the "Detroit" model onto every city vs suburbs discussion. A lot of metro areas like Oklahoma City, Louisville KY, Charlotte NC and a slew more have done huge numbers of annexations over the years and the surrounding areas haven't turned into hell holes. Quite the contrary. OKC is the 8th largest city in the country by land mass (I found out recently) and much of it goes way out into rural areas where they anticipate future development. It's also in the 10 fastest growing cities category. Charlotte is also in the "fastest growing" list in pretty much every category.

 

Perhaps our over-reliance on the township model has actually retarded growth in Michigan, as I was saying earlier in this post. A big provincial mindset. Most of the surrounding townships in Grand Rapids have overarching low-density building requirements (2 acre minimums for instance) which actually pushes development far out into the hinterlands and makes it difficult for developers to make the numbers work when looking at land in the closer areas. And name one surrounding community that would allow a 10 story building. None.

 

When you go to other cities outside of Michigan, even slightly larger than Grand Rapids, it's not unusual to drive for miles and miles and see continuous development and infill, and high-rises outside of downtown. I can really only think of two areas here that somewhat resemble that, Southern Wyoming and Southern Kentwood along M-6, and way out in Georgetown Township. No high-rises, except Metro Hospital.

 

If you really think about it, if Grand Rapids metro were really to grow by 200 - 300,000 people, where would they go? I was talking to a developer friend and he was saying that buildable land (where you could build a neighborhood) that is served by water and sewer in Forest Hills is now pretty much an anomaly. There are a few going up in Grand Rapids Township right now off of Knapp, but those might be the last for a while. And those townships are not in any mood to approve extending that infrastructure.

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There's a bunch around here. But they employ robots, not humans.

SH-78_2.jpg

 

 

That's not quite accurate. While manufacturers do require fewer employees now than they did 10 years ago, there are still a lot of growing manufacturers in West Michigan hiring a lot of people. Many of them are experiencing hiring issues because of perception of working in an industrial environment.

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I don't think you can employ the "Detroit" model onto every city vs suburbs discussion. A lot of metro areas like Oklahoma City, Louisville KY, Charlotte NC and a slew more have done huge numbers of annexations over the years and the surrounding areas haven't turned into hell holes. Quite the contrary. OKC is the 8th largest city in the country by land mass (I found out recently) and much of it goes way out into rural areas where they anticipate future development. It's also in the 10 fastest growing cities category. Charlotte is also in the "fastest growing" list in pretty much every category. [...]

 

On another hand, one thing about the OKC model is that it doesn't do well in encouraging high density.  Downtown OKC is pretty nice, but a lot of the neighborhoods surrounding it are urban prairieland.

Edited by RegalTDP

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