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GRDadof3

Downtown GR Urban Retail Experience

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Since this was brought up in "The Village" thread, I thought we could open up a discussion as to why there have been no proposals to put an urban retail center downtown Grand Rapids. Pranksta the Gangsta is right, in similar sized cities, they are opening some pretty exciting retail "experience" destinations:

4th Street Live in Louisville

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Gateway Plaza in Salt Lake City

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Providence Place in Providence, RI

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Do we need something like this downtown? If you were a developer, would you bet millions that such a development would be profitable (keeping in mind that bankers are going to bring up Mackey's World)? How would you convince investors and banks that your idea would work when others have failed? Also, where would be the best locations considering you need quite a bit of space (at least 10 - 15 acres I would guess), good exposure and the best opportunity for traffic?

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I am not a developer nor a banker, so I don't know what they would say, but as a consumer and citizen I do say this: as a consumer, in order for me to utilize downtown, it has to provide something the the suburbs don't have. This can be in the types of stores, businesses, etc or in the experience. Right now, unfortunately Grand Rapids does not have these. I was just looking a the East Beltline "Village" thread and was thinking too bad the downtown area can't capture these high-end types of stores that right now the malls don't have, and the advantage would be that instead of creating a fake "village" experience you could have the real thing. I think that people really want a retail experience that reminds them of a city, with different types of stores and business together. Look at how malls try (and fail) to emulate a city street on the inside with trees and benches and stores on both sides. What is missing and why they are failing is that they need the real thing, with people living and working in a public space (by public space I mean streets and infrastructure owned by the people of the city, not the private property of the mall corporations who can choose who goes there and who doesn't). Also as a citizen of Grand Rapids, I think that retail and businesses of all types must develop or the city will not be sustainable in the long run. The hardest part is getting it all started, the chicken and egg sydrome. Well, I'll quit for now.

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Funny, I was just talking about this yesterday....the current shopping that we have right downtown is way overpriced (clothing, etc.) and far and few between - one has to either walk quite a way to the next store or drive to it. With all of the new residential buildings being renovated / built, there is a great opportunity for such a shopping village with unique and variegated shops. I know that even if I weren't looking to move downtown, I would still drive from Wyoming to shop downtown versus Rivertown or the new Village at Beltline for the atmosphere alone. Where they would be able to put it is questionable, of course it wouldn't take as much land if they layered it and each building had a floor or two to house different shops. The shopper could still have the outdoor walking from building to building, but also the ability to go upstairs to an entirely different store.

It would be great to get a whole foods there as well. Currently, where to do people who live downtown buy their groceries?

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Currently, where to do people who live downtown buy their groceries?

As an ex-downtown dweller... Alpine Meijer :rolleyes::blink:

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As an ex-downtown dweller... Alpine Meijer :rolleyes::blink:

Well pretty soon it'll be the Grand Central Market or whatever its called! :D

That is a valid point, though. Realistically, there has to be something (or many somethings) unique near downtown to bring in people who live farther away from downtown. Many people who live in or near downtown will come in for stuff because it'll be close and relatively convenient, as opposed to driving twenty minutes to the burbs to go to Meijer. I still think the biggest kick-start we can give to better retail downtown is to capitalize on the demand for housing downtown. Not that I've never said that before. :P

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I think for anything like this to happen, you need a combination of things:

Someone with a HUGE bankroll to partner with a national retail and theatre developer, who will do it despite the

naysayers, or possibly with a bond issue or public/private partnership (but I doubt people would support it)

A large chunk of land with easy highway access(even stacked, you're going to need space): South of the

Arena, Market & Fulton, WAM Site

No one is going to do it for reasons like "social responsibility" or "sustainability". It has to be about money.

A place that can be easily linked to the Convention Center and the hotel skywalks

At least 50 - 100 stores with a couple of anchors like Nordstroms/Lord & Taylor or it won't survive.

As GRCityDog said, it has to have stores that are not available anywhere else in the metro area, because even

if it does, it will be a challenge to draw a large number of suburbanites

I know, I sound like Mr. Naysayer myself :P

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grcitydog's post above says it all for me.

When I read that a J. Jill is going in "The Psuedo-Village", I was excited at first. J. Jill! Half my closet came from their catalog....oh, boy! Then I thought, but why not downtown? It would be a destination for sure, since so many J. Jill addicts live in the GR area. Why would they choose such a bland, must-be-driven-to-in-a-car shopping maul?

When are retailers and marketers going to lift themselves out of that mentality? Must gasoline go to five dollars a gallon before they realize that it's easier to shop online than jump in the guzzler for an unnecessary trip?

< sigh >

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As for the village, I am not going to believe a single thing until I see their sign nailed up on the concrete.

Would the PO/Rowe site be big enough for a mall? (ONLY if devos does do his dastardly plan and destroy the building, heaven forbid that should happen)

Heck, you could still demolish city hall, and place it on Ionia across from the Courthouse at the old bus terminal. That would make an excellent site for a Mall.

Its been a a few months since I went downtown im afraid. I have been too busy doing other things :wacko: So I dont now all the flat vacant lots anymore :P

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Would the PO/Rowe site be big enough for a mall? (ONLY if devos does do his dastardly plan and destroy the building, heaven forbid that should happen)

Heck, you could still demolish city hall, and place it on Ionia across from the Courthouse at the old bus terminal. That would make an excellent site for a Mall.

It doesn't need to sprawl. A mall can always be built up, instead of out.

QUOTE(sstroh @ Nov 3 2005, 09:22 AM)

Currently, where to do people who live downtown buy their groceries?

Or Fulton Heights D&W, although i'll drive extra and pay more to go to East GR D&W, since the food there seems to be fresher than FH!

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It doesn't need to sprawl. A mall can always be built up, instead of out.

I most certainly agree with that, but any mall over 4 stories, and banks tend to shy away from it.

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When I read that a J. Jill is going in "The Psuedo-Village", I was excited at first. J. Jill! Half my closet came from their catalog....oh, boy! Then I thought, but why not downtown? It would be a destination for sure, since so many J. Jill addicts live in the GR area. Why would they choose such a bland, must-be-driven-to-in-a-car shopping maul?

< sigh >

There is a J.Jill at Rivertown mall currently, but it is pretty small.

Or Fulton Heights D&W, although i'll drive extra and pay more to go to East GR D&W, since the food there seems to be fresher than FH!

That's exactly what I was thinking, some of the smaller D&W's meats I wouldn't feed to my dogs...when they are gray when you see them in the meat counter, it is not very enticing.

What would be really cool is to have specialty markets downtown as well, like a butcher, florist, produce, etc. But that is probably not very realistic and too "New York"ish... :whistling:

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There is a J.Jill at Rivertown mall currently, but it is pretty small.

That's exactly what I was thinking, some of the smaller D&W's meats I wouldn't feed to my dogs...when they are gray when you see them in the meat counter, it is not very enticing.

What would be really cool is to have specialty markets downtown as well, like a butcher, florist, produce, etc. But that is probably not very realistic and too "New York"ish... :whistling:

The best butcher i've been to is Bob's Butcher Block in Jenison (yeah, yeah, I know :P )

It would be awesome if he set up shop DT. But I doubt he will :(

As for a big space for a big development...what about all that city and county owned riverfront land north of 196 along monroe? Its mostly parking, now. And you could even incorporate the big parking lot on the East side of Monroe too. Oh man, that would be killer! :D

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I think that this post definately points out that there are a number of potential spots around downtown to put something like this.

What we need to make it happen, besides financing, is a whole change in attitude for West Michigan. Any time the words "retail" and "downtown" are brought up in the same sentence, our elected and business leaders right away start shaking their heads, stating the old mantra "retail will never work in downtown, they can't compete with the suburbs". I wish I had a dollar for everytime I read that in the Press, our heard it on the news, I probably could finance the project myself.

Do they honestly think that conventions are going to want to come to Grand Rapids just to be shuttled to the suburbs for their free time entertainment? Or that they will show up to view all the hospital/medical development going on Michigan Street? They need to add something that will not only bring them to town, but also want to make them come back again.

The same goes for suburbanites. The restaurants/arena do a good job drawing people in, but it is still a very small segment of the metro area that this draws from. Look at the parking lots of our local malls at any given time, downtown supporters would kill to see that kind of traffic coming in on a regular basis.

And I agree with what people said about making it something that is not already available in the suburbs. There are hundreds of retailers that would fit into that catagory, it's the marketing of a plan that needs to help bring them in that is currently missing.

I'll get off my soap box now, but hopefully I made my point.

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In the city's defense John, many of these people are older than us and all they think of when they hear "retailing downtown" are:

Monroe Center open to vehicles (retailers left), Monroe "Mall" closed to vehicles (retailers left), Monroe Center opened again (still no vibrant retail), City Centre opened, City Centre closed, Mackey's World opened and then closed (and they got burned financially), Herpolsheimers closed, Steketee's closed, blah blah blah. It's almost exhausting listing them. :P

That's why we need some fresh blood in there to shake things up and change attitudes, and a PLAN in conjunction with the movers and shakers of GR, the Convention Authority, CVB, DDA, (all the other acronyms) and the hotel operators and put a task force together :whistling:

"The Village" being built on the Beltline was not an "anti-downtown" conspiracy (saying this tongue-in-cheek). Kevin Einfeld of BDR bought the property from D&W, he partnered with Aikens, Aikens has the current contacts through The Village of Rochester Hills, and blamo, a proposal is being put forward.

There just needs to be the right set of players to put something together, and they have to believe it will be a HUGE success.

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The best butcher i've been to is Bob's Butcher Block in Jenison (yeah, yeah, I know :P )

It would be awesome if he set up shop DT. But I doubt he will :(

I love Bob' Butcher - go there frequently, but it is close to where I live currently, won't be so close when I move downtown. <_<

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In the city's defense John, many of these people are older than us and all they think of when they hear "retailing downtown" are:

Monroe Center open to vehicles (retailers left), Monroe "Mall" closed to vehicles (retailers left), Monroe Center opened again (still no vibrant retail), City Centre opened, City Centre closed, Mackey's World opened and then closed (and they got burned financially), Herpolsheimers closed, Steketee's closed, blah blah blah. It's almost exhausting listing them. :P

That's why we need some fresh blood in there to shake things up and change attitudes, and a PLAN in conjunction with the movers and shakers of GR, the Convention Authority, CVB, DDA, (all the other acronyms) and the hotel operators and put a task force together :whistling:

"The Village" being built on the Beltline was not an "anti-downtown" conspiracy (saying this tongue-in-cheek). Kevin Einfeld of BDR bought the property from D&W, he partnered with Aikens, Aikens has the current contacts through The Village of Rochester Hills, and blamo, a proposal is being put forward.

There just needs to be the right set of players to put something together, and they have to believe it will be a HUGE success.

In regards to the city elders, the statement that sets me off more than anything is that "downtown retail is dead in U.S. cites". If they bothered to pull their heads out of the sand and looked around, they would realize that there are similar sized cities with some great success stories. But they didn't just happen, but took the local government to get off its lazy @$$ and made it happen. The 8 things that make for a strong downtown are:

Working Population - We need more

Student Population - We're getting there

Entertainment Venues - We're very strong in this catagory

Festivals/Free Outdoor Entertainment - We're very strong here also

Arts & Culture - Starting to build

Restaurants/Nightlife - Getting stronger every year

Residents - Slowly starting to come together

Retail - Abyssmal at best, more like non-existant

Everything is starting to come together. But to ignore one of these components, is going to hold us back from reaching our true potential.

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In regards to the city elders, the statement that sets me off more than anything is that "downtown retail is dead in U.S. cites". If they bothered to pull their heads out of the sand and looked around, they would realize that there are similar sized cities with some great success stories. But they didn't just happen, but took the local government to get off its lazy @$$ and made it happen. The 8 things that make for a strong downtown are:

Working Population - We need more

Student Population - We're getting there

Entertainment Venues - We're very strong in this catagory

Festivals/Free Outdoor Entertainment - We're very strong here also

Arts & Culture - Starting to build

Restaurants/Nightlife - Getting stronger every year

Residents - Slowly starting to come together

Retail - Abyssmal at best, more like non-existant

Everything is starting to come together. But to ignore one of these components, is going to hold us back from reaching our true potential.

I'd say we are in the middle ground when it comes to entertainment, we still could use a Movie Theatre, and seperate Performance Hall. Its close, but a Movie Theatre and Performance Hall that houses a few thousand would go a long way towards helping people see the potential in Grand Rapids.

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I'm surprised Rockford, John Wheeler didn't try to do something like the 4th street live in Louisville down in his Cherry Street Landing project. The Cherry Street Landing project is a little disappointing, i think.

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It would be great to get a whole foods there as well. Currently, where to do people who live downtown buy their groceries?

I'm all for that! A really good market would be great downtown. As far as other retail shops go...those prices have to come down to get more people to shop. I love to browse the stores there now, but all I can afford is a card, and even those are pricey. The little Hallmark shop on Monroe has 99 cent cards though.

Does anybody know the status of that new little market/deli on Monroe Center? and is going to be a real deli or something like BITE? I see the new Asian or Chinese or what ever restaurant is open now but I haven't gone in.

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If Rockford Construction ever tried to do something like this, it would end up looking like a Meijer, surrounded by a sea of parking lots. They do not have a clue how to build a true urban environment.

As far as Cherry Street Landing being a dissapointment, AMEN to that. So much for it being the new hub of entertainment for Metro GR, it is almost suburban in nature with its building, parking lot, building, parking lot development pattern.

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agreed but I just mentionted something in a different thread saying I think GR could support a DT retail center like the one I know in WPB Fla. I think we are strong in all the areas of DT besides retail, a little weak on entertainment and living. A new center would iprove all.

an example that I know is West Palm Beach Fla. (not plam beach). My grandparents live down there and just a couple years ago the DT was desolate but it is under a huge transformation right now. There was no shopping there until a big project called city place tore out about 4 square blocks and reaplced with shops, put townhoses above and behind them and in the center was a Macy's and a Muvico and also a center pavillion area where the shops are further back and there is a fountain and a small stage. It is very cool and looks to be very sucessful and I think that GR could support something like that because it will draw ppl to come into DT. The problem is location because we dont have abanded blocks and monroe center is not set up to be like that. The one thing I could see is the government center being outdated and moving elsewhere and the current city hall/fed building/5/3building being replaced with an outdoor shopping center/hotel/housing. that would be cool

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