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michaelskis

Vacant Business Question

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In addition to all the new development, I have noticed quite a few smaller vacant businesses and store fronts in the city. Is there anything to help promote entrepreneurship in Grand Rapids? Are there any cooperative agreements with the business departments from GVSU, WMU, or one of the many other colleges that have business programs in or around Grand Rapids?

Don

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I believe part of the problem lies in the fact that there is no penalty for an owner of a vacant building to let it stay vacant. Case in point: before the Grand Rapids Children's Museum moved in, that building housed Ken Tepper's dance studio, and maybe something after that. There was a fire (don't know the circumstances) and subsequently, the building stood ruined and empy for almost a decade. Why? Why did the city allow it?

Why does the city allow any owner/absentee landlord of a vacant building or storefront to let the blight continue? Maybe it's the old "it's MY property and ain't no gummint gonna tell ME what to do!" mentality.

Private Property Owners uber alles! An attitude which I despise with all my heart.

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I believe part of the problem lies in the fact that there is no penalty for an owner of a vacant building to let it stay vacant. Case in point: before the Grand Rapids Children's Museum moved in, that building housed Ken Tepper's dance studio, and maybe something after that. There was a fire (don't know the circumstances) and subsequently, the building stood ruined and empy for almost a decade. Why? Why did the city allow it?

Why does the city allow any owner/absentee landlord of a vacant building or storefront to let the blight continue? Maybe it's the old "it's MY property and ain't no gummint gonna tell ME what to do!" mentality.

Private Property Owners uber alles! An attitude which I despise with all my heart.

I dont think landlord need additional punishment for a lack of supply of tenants. As long as buildings are kept up, mortgage payments and taxes are punishment enough for the owners of vacant buildings.

I agree with you that something should be done to burned out buildings, but, in Grand Rapids at least, burned out buildings are the exception not the rule.

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I believe part of the problem lies in the fact that there is no penalty for an owner of a vacant building to let it stay vacant.

Why does the city allow any owner/absentee landlord of a vacant building or storefront to let the blight continue? Maybe it's the old "it's MY property and ain't no gummint gonna tell ME what to do!" mentality.

Private Property Owners uber alles! An attitude which I despise with all my heart.

Ok, this argument is a bit silly on some levels. You can't force someone to rent their property. Nor can you force anyone to rent property. Last time I checked this is a free market economy driven by the ideals of supply and demand. As long as there is supply elsewhere the demand won't be there.

There is however, a penalty for an owner who intentionally allows a building to become condemned by neglect. There is a provision in the City Ordinance called Demolition by Neglect. I know this ordinance is used in historic districts but I'm not sure about the other areas of the city.

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Here's my take on the situation...most of the development we're seeing involves bigger business with bigger money funding it. Several of the projects (correct me if I'm wrong, please) have received tax breaks in order to come to fruition. The old addage, bigger is better seems to hold true in terms of who's receiving support and who's not. Does anyone know of any programs encouraging small business within the city? Say for the kinds of businesses that would fill empty store fronts?

We need both the small storefront businesses and the bigger businesses to make this a community that's going to keep people around. I know I wouldn't want to live here if business districts like Eastowne, Cherry/Lake/Diamond didn't exist and the big box stores on 28th were my only avenue for commerce.

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I'm going to agree with Nitro that by adding more regulations to downtown property owners is only going to drive businesses away, not into downtown. I do like your idea michaelskis that you mentioned before that involved dressing up vacant store fronts so that at least they're more attractive to pedestrians.

I'm convinced the only way that we'll see virtually every retail space used up is by adding more residents to downtown. You can throw every kind of tax incentive at a small business owner/retailer to coax them into downtown retail space, but at the end of the day they just want to be successful. And just relying on people working downtown or convention goers is not nearly enough.

As far as vacant buildings, I can only think of a few in the CBD that are currently unoccupied.

But of course that's just my opinion. I'm no downtown retail expert. ;)

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With all the condo development popping up all over downtown. The clientele to support more bussinesses to fill vacant storefronts will materialize.

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Plucked this off of the GVMC listserv. It seemed appropriate to put here. If anyone attends, report here on your findings.

Kent/MSU Extension and United Growth for Kent County are sponsoring a

luncheon presentation on "Can Small Towns Be Cool? How to maintain/enhance

your community's sense of place and attract the creative class" on Friday,

September 14 from 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The cost is $10 for United Growth

members and $20 for non-members and includes lunch.

This is a lively and visual presentation by Dave Ivan, Community Economic

Development Specialist with MSU Extension, who based the presentation on

over 225 visits to Midwestern and East Coast communities. If you live or

work in a small city or village, you won't want to miss this presentation!

Ideas that will be discussed include:

* Strategies to fill vacant storefronts

* Capitalizing on art and cultural heritage

* How to engage citizenry

* Attracting young professionals, which attracts business and industry

To register, please fill out the attached registration form and mail with

payment to Kendra Wills at Kent/MSU Extension. Open to the public.

This program is offered for Master Citizen Planner CEUs in combination with

a Nov 17 presentation from 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. on the latest trends in

community economic development at Kent/MSU Extension. You must attend both

events to earn CEU credit.

Contact Kendra Wills at 616-336-2028 or [email protected] for additional

information on the event.

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I'm going to agree with Nitro that by adding more regulations to downtown property owners is only going to drive businesses away, not into downtown. I do like your idea michaelskis that you mentioned before that involved dressing up vacant store fronts so that at least they're more attractive to pedestrians. ;)

The ground floor of Streketees looked like this for many years. I think you can easily assume that the building owner would have preferred a rent paying tenant.

I complained to the city about the appearance, but nothing happened until the Blue Cross moved into the upper floors.

203786410_acb3054f17.jpg

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Here's a thought on beautification. When the All Star Game came to town in Detroit the local AIA chapter put together a series of storefront displays in the vacant buildings around Comerica Park to help visually soften the blow of vacant buildings.

This is something that could easily be implemented here in GR. It has been done to some extent by the Free Radical Gallery but only on a temporary basis. If there were some exhibits that were done for semi-longterm display to put in the windows it would help take the eyesore away.

I would think that building owners would be receptive because it would draw attention to the spaces they are trying to lease. There has typically been a good response to Free Radical Gallery in the past.

The displays could be anything. Art, Tourism photos of Western Michigan, Historical photos of Grand Rapids, Etc.

Thoughts?

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The ground floor of Streketees looked like this for many years. I think you can easily assume that the building owner would have preferred a rent paying tenant.

I complained to the city about the appearance, but nothing happened until the Blue Cross moved into the upper floors.

203786410_acb3054f17.jpg

That picture is instantly depressing...

Here's a thought on beautification. When the All Star Game came to town in Detroit the local AIA chapter put together a series of storefront displays in the vacant buildings around Comerica Park to help visually soften the blow of vacant buildings.

This is something that could easily be implemented here in GR. It has been done to some extent by the Free Radical Gallery but only on a temporary basis. If there were some exhibits that were done for semi-longterm display to put in the windows it would help take the eyesore away.

I would think that building owners would be receptive because it would draw attention to the spaces they are trying to lease. There has typically been a good response to Free Radical Gallery in the past.

The displays could be anything. Art, Tourism photos of Western Michigan, Historical photos of Grand Rapids, Etc.

Thoughts?

I agree that some sort of front should be put up to help get the front used. I was also going to mention how detroit did the fake store fronts for the all star and super bowl. However, I think it gives a false sense that tourists and others will laugh at. I laughed when I heard detroit had fake store fronts to look better and thought it was a desparate move. There is probobly a way to pull it off, but I would be a little embarrased if an out of towner asked me about it.

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That picture is instantly depressing...

I agree that some sort of front should be put up to help get the front used. I was also going to mention how detroit did the fake store fronts for the all star and super bowl. However, I think it gives a false sense that tourists and others will laugh at. I laughed when I heard detroit had fake store fronts to look better and thought it was a desparate move. There is probobly a way to pull it off, but I would be a little embarrased if an out of towner asked me about it. [/quote

I took the people-mover from Cobo Hall to Greektown and thought that Detroit has some of the best large-scale graffiti artists in the country. I'm thankful that downtown GR has not had much of that (although some of it really is very creative).

Nitro, are there any photos of AIA's efforts in Detroit?

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However, I think it gives a false sense that tourists and others will laugh at. I laughed when I heard detroit had fake store fronts to look better and thought it was a desparate move. There is probobly a way to pull it off, but I would be a little embarrased if an out of towner asked me about it.

Well, it

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Here's a thought on beautification. When the All Star Game came to town in Detroit the local AIA chapter put together a series of storefront displays in the vacant buildings around Comerica Park to help visually soften the blow of vacant buildings.

...

Hey, when they hosted the GOP convention in 1980 (nominating Ronnie Reagan), the city painted faux windows and such on the boarded-up buildings. I seem to recall awnings as well.

If you visit the Detroit thread, there are lots of pics of SBXL spruce-ups in that series of threads (February '06). Along Woodward, empty storefronts got styrofoam facades, which were then painted to look like stone.

Window displays can attract attention and help inspire a potential tenant. "Hey, I could rent this space and I could do this with it." Good idea.

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The DDA could use some of the "Keep it a Secret" campaign budget and invest in some storefront window coverings with different downtown "lifestyle" shots.

Woman%20walking%20downtown%20250.jpg

(example, in case you didn't know what a lifestyle shot was)

Shoot, I'll even sell them some of my photo rights.

They could also take the ground floor of the Kendall Building and do some kind of art show in the windows.

But otherwise michaelskis, your energy and enthusiasm are fantastic and if there is any way I can help, shoot me a PM. :thumbsup:

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Even ads could be better than plywood. Very difficult to control good design vs. bad design however.

slideshow2.gif

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The DDA could use some of the "Keep it a Secret" campaign budget and invest in some storefront window coverings with different downtown "lifestyle" shots.

Woman%20walking%20downtown%20250.jpg

(example, in case you didn't know what a lifestyle shot was)

...

biketour.jpg

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No longer vacant, has anyone been to the Avenue Market on Michigan Street?

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