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Interesting ways to improve Downtown

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There is an interesting article at mibiz.com about a grant program in Benton Harbor for facade improvements to downtown buildings.

Wonder where the grant money came from...

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There is an interesting article at mibiz.com about a grant program in Benton Harbor for facade improvements to downtown buildings.

Here's the link: http://www.mibiz.com/absolutenm/templates/...d=8718&zoneid=3

I wonder if a program like this could fly in GR. Are there other types of grants that are similar to this one already in place in GR?

I don't know that downtown needs facade improvements as much as Benton Harbor does. BH is just at the beginning stages of a beautification project. Except for certain buildings on South Division, and the Kendall Bldg, most of the downtown buildings have been renovated and look pretty good. I think we need some workable solutions to create more demand for downtown office space and residential space. That will drive the rest of the improvements needed. The Keeler Bldg still sits empty, mainly because of parking. The Michigan National Bldg at Monroe Center and Ionia also has high vacancy rates I believe.

Some new sidewalk trees and sidewalk refurbishment, now that's another story. There are still some pockets that need to be done (Pearl, Ottawa for instance). And some of the streets badly need repairing, like Grandville, Commerce and some of the small connector streets.

One thing I thought of the other day is that the surface lot between Pearl Street and the Ford Museum needs to be bulldozed and the park expanded into that area, maybe with a large "gateway" fountain or something (in addition to the Labor Movement fountain). It seems like they could find alternative parking for the 50 or so visitors they get a day -_- . I also think they should respectfully move the Indian Mounds sculptures (the big grassy knolls) and tear out that unused information booth in the park. They seem to cut off the park from the rest of the city on Pearl. It would be stunning to be at Pearl and be able to see North all along the Riverfront up to Bridgewater. We also could use some more park/green space :thumbsup:

That one might need to go in the Utopian World thread.

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One thing I thought of the other day is that the surface lot between Pearl Street and the Ford Museum needs to be bulldozed and the park expanded into that area, maybe with a large "gateway" fountain or something (in addition to the Labor Movement fountain). It seems like they could find alternative parking for the 50 or so visitors they get a day -_- . I also think they should move the Indian Mounds and tear out that unused information booth in the park. They seem to cut off the park from the rest of the city on Pearl. It would be stunning to be at Pearl and be able to see North all along the Riverfront up to Bridgewater.

I couldn't agree more. While its great that we have a Presidential Museum downtown, the design and layout leaves much to be desired. And that information booth really needs to go. Its just atrocious.

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GRDad, that is true- the facades are pretty good downtown. However, I like the idea of grant money to drive the type of improvement activities that we are looking for. And I am just not sure if the idea of grant money would work in Grand Rapids. I am a believer in providing incentives to drive activity, not just mandating it for the sake of consistency. Right now, I am concerned that the approach of mandating activity is limiting the opportunity for just such improvements.

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GRDad, that is true- the facades are pretty good downtown. However, I like the idea of grant money to drive the type of improvement activities that we are looking for. And I am just not sure if the idea of grant money would work in Grand Rapids. I am a believer in providing incentives to drive activity, not just mandating it for the sake of consistency. Right now, I am concerned that the approach of mandating activity is limiting the opportunity for just such improvements.

The DDA serves that role pretty well, and I read recently that it sounded like the downtown business owners were very happy with the job they have been doing.

You're right in some respects about the grants. I think Benton Harbor's grants are being driven by political pressure on Granholm after the "riots" that took place there 2 years ago. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

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The Michigan Economic Development Corporation provides downtown improvement grants and assistance to communities to revitalize their downtowns through their appropriately-named Community Assistance Teams. Niles did this a couple years back. Kalamazoo has been getting this type of help for years and I bet the majority of Benton Harbor's facade improvements came from this program.

MEDC CAT Program Website

CAT PDF

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Sorry to be a naive one here, but I thought those really were Indian mounds, not just sculptures?!!?

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Sorry to be a naive one here, but I thought those really were Indian mounds, not just sculptures?!!?

Just sculptures - installed in 1976 I think.

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I DO NOT want them to change the park AT ALL!!!!.... those mounds are such a great place to chill and take in the city, especially with all the growth going on. id sooner see they bulldoze the public museum than that park. ( its my favorite chilling park in the world :wub: )

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I DO NOT want them to change the park AT ALL!!!!.... those mounds are such a great place to chill and take in the city, especially with all the growth going on. id sooner see they bulldoze the public museum than that park. ( its my favorite chilling park in the world :wub: )

Sorry, but it can be GREATLY improved, IMO. You wouldn't want to see it expanded?

Indian Burial Mounds

Sasaki Associates, 1976, landscape architects

Three distinct mounds symbolize those built nearly 2000 years ago by native tribes, often called the Hopewell. The three mounds represent three tribes: Odawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi

www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us/download_upload/parks_Outdoor_Art_Inspirations_Walking_Tour.pdf

There are real Indian Mounds along the Grand River and I-196, near Millenium Park. :thumbsup:

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Sorry, but it can be GREATLY improved, IMO. You wouldn't want to see it expanded?

Indian Burial Mounds

Sasaki Associates, 1976, landscape architects

Three distinct mounds symbolize those built nearly 2000 years ago by native tribes, often called the Hopewell. The three mounds represent three tribes: Odawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi

www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us/download_upload/parks_Outdoor_Art_Inspirations_Walking_Tour.pdf

There are real Indian Mounds along the Grand River and I-196, near Millenium Park. :thumbsup:

While we're tlaking about that area, I must say that interchange (131/Pearl) is just atrocious. Its very suburban. They might as well build a gas station in from of the Days Inn there

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While we're tlaking about that area, I must say that interchange (131/Pearl) is just atrocious. Its very suburban. They might as well build a gas station in from of the Days Inn there

Imagine an "at-grade" boulevard through there, with the changes to the Museum land :shades:

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I know it's off topic, but the story of the Indian mounds is actually very interesting. Some of the artificats inside were recovered at one point, and then stolen and never recovered. Also some artifacts were given to kids as the Grand Rapids residents began expanding and building near the mounds in the late 19th century. Not sure if any artifacts remain, but it the area was studied scientifically by Wright L Coffenberry, one of the found fathers of GR, around 1900. Some of those artifacts could have been up to 2,000 years old.

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