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michaelskis

What commercial section of Grand Rapids needs the most work?

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One thing that Grand Rapids has quite a bit is potential in every aspect. The architecture is phenomenal and there are several smaller commercial centers within the city that are up and coming, but what one needs the most attention?

There are some corridor sections such as Leonard in the NW section Parts of Fulton and Diamond, and even parts of downtown.

What do you think, what commercial sections need the most work to bring them up to a caliber that makes people want to flock there? What is currently holding them down from that that level? What areas do you think have the most hidden potential?

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Cheshire Village is on the up and up but still leaves room for lots of improvement. From Cheshire to the River is a very nice neighborhood and in any mega-city (Chicago/NY) the homes there would sell for good money. If Cheshire could up the ante with quaint shops, an upscale tavern, and a restaurant I could see it being a very desirable area.

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Boston Square. This could be the largest neighborhood business district in the city with blocks of shops, plazas, and parks.

Whats holding it back is a complete lack of business that give a darn about the sorry appearance of the area. From the cookie cutter blank box Walgreens, trashy hardware stores, ghetto liquor shop that has seen shootings, dusty car fix-it shops, rundown car wash, to that paste anywhere Shell station, this whole area is in a total funk. And thats just a partial list of whats wrong!

I would love to see the whole area flattened.

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I think the Bridge street area on the West side could be pretty cool... but thats a very long term vision, right now its not the greatest.

Eastown is pretty cool already, I don't think it needs the most work.

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I think Eastown has that up and comming feel to it and well on its way to becoming a hip place in GR. To help boost things I would bring in somthing like this "Whole Foods" store some planeteers are raving about, to generate more foot traffic that would benefit the small businesses there.

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The West Leonard area has alot of businesses in there already. The only problem is branding the area. If I had control of things there I would do some urban beautification on that stretch of Leonard with street trees, more ped frieandly sidewalks and traffic taming features such as bulb-outs and decorative mediens between intersections. While at it I would revise the Masterplan for that area to encourage infill of some of the surface lots and call for the Strip Mall by the rail road tracks to get a more urban looking facade. Heartside's masterplan comes to mind for West Leonard.

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Lake Michigan Drive cuting through Westside has potential to becoming a nice live/work business district. I would revise zoning laws to allow retail buildings with storefronts on the first floor owner's living quarters on the second floor. Secondly infill is desparatly needed to establish a nice urban fabric. Then I would finish off with streetscaping.

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Downtown has plenty of entertainment options, but more retail is needed with all the condos and apartments popping up in that area. An urban supermarket would be nice. Or how about an Urban Target or maybe inticing Meijer to build an Urban fomat of its store would be great. If not, a nice alternative that would appeal to alot of urbanites would be bringing in a diverse array of small businesses ranging from clothing to health and beauty to consumer electronics to provide basic living needs and have them anchored by a large farmer's market.

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I have to say central downtown- Monroe Center/Division. This is the geographic center of town and historically considered "Main Street". I hae always felt that in order for the rest of the city and region to thrive, the center must be vibrant. Monroe center needs more retail and street life, as does Division and it is coming. Once the center is in order and people want to visit, then the inner ring areas such as Creston, the West Leonard, West Fulton, Eastown and so on will also be able to thrive.

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Cheshire Village is on the up and up but still leaves room for lots of improvement. From Cheshire to the River is a very nice neighborhood and in any mega-city (Chicago/NY) the homes there would sell for good money. If Cheshire could up the ante with quaint shops, an upscale tavern, and a restaurant I could see it being a very desirable area.

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I'm not sure if it's in GR proper or not, having been there for the first time just recently... but Galewood seems to be a town center with absolutely nothing of interest going on for it, except for at the tavern. (Thursday nights.. best music in town. Oh yeah.) I never knew it existed until I went there for a party. That and the area SW of Heartside along the river. I don't think this area has done well at all ever since the S-Curve tore it apart from the rest of town.

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The area around the RAPID station and the Grand Rapids Ballet....the pavements there are horrendous.

(Streets there are Cherry, Commerce, Grandville, and others I can't think of.)

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where are Cheshire village and Galewood?

I think that area along Grandville near the GR-Wyoming border (Oakwood, I think), where there are already many Hispanic businesses, It could use some attention, It would be neat to designate it as a "Mexicantown" or a "Hispanictown" like larger cities have. Many of the building could use some Hispanic flavour to there design and would probably draw even more hipanic businesses to the neighborhood, it would be the center of the hipanic community in West Michigan.

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Galewood is in Wyoming basically around the area of Burton and Godfrey. I think there is a lot of potential there.

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Yeah it's technically Wyoming, but still has close proximity to DT.

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Division to the South city limits.

Spots like the Arts area to the Dwelling Place?Herkimer Hotel and Burton to Alger are seeing a resurgence of sorts. I think Division has the most potential in the city.

I think the whole city has tremendous potential and the change from this old timers point of view has been huge in the last 30 years.

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For those of you who mentioned Chesire - "Thanks!"

I used to live in Heritage Hill and have recently moved to Chesire.

It has everything within walking walking distance:

Bank, Restaurant, Barber, Grocer, etc.

A small pub, as mentioned, would seal the deal.

I miss the wonderful homes on the Hill but Chesire actualizes the urban experience.

Besides, the neighborhood has a spooky, psychedelic logo :D

A great start for branding its commericial district.

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I remember the old Cheshire area, and Van Andel-Flikkema before it went up like a Roman candle. My Dad bought his 1951 Plymouth there, and I remember haunting the showroom (and the showroom across the street at Alberda-Shook Chevrolet) as a kid.

A little piece of trivia that some may not know. Down the street on Plainfield there is a two story building that, I recall, used to be a gun store. I don't know what is in there now. But back in about 1946, that was the first home of Blessed Sacrament church, before it moved over to Diamond about 1951.

Memories, memories . . .

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I've often thought it would be cool to do a round about at the inersection of Division and Fulton with a large scale monument in the center island to mark the grographic center of the city.

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I'd imagine that with the traffic there at Division and Fulton, a roundabout would cause problems than it would help. Although nice looking, I don't think we'd ever see one there. Pearl & Monroe would be a better candidate, but I don't think it would fare too well there either. Actually what would be a good spot would be the centre of Eastown.

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A properly designed roundabout in any of these locations would probably be impossible to build without demolishing something, and that's certainly not a good plan. The "traffic calming" mini-roundabouts the city has installed on some residential streets would not be a good idea on a busy road, as it would just become something for motorists to crash into.

I would have to agree that South Division Ave is one of the areas most in need of work. I drove through the section between Burton St and 28th St this weekend, and although the streetscaping looks nice, at least half of the store fronts were vacant. I wouldn't imagine a summer-long road project helped matters any, but hopefully it will be a positive in the long run.

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One of the areas that I am always impressed with is Division from Wealthy to Fulton. It is on it

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One of the areas that I am always impressed with is Division from Wealthy to Fulton. It is on it

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Fulton Heights area - not a big strip of retail (a block at most that spills over a couple of store fronts) - but there are nice stores with loyal clientele. I'd love to see lofts on the second stories' of these buildings, as well as some nice sprucing up of the street / sidewalks. This area already has a foundation - it just needs a final few strokes from the paintbrush.

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Fulton Heights area - not a big strip of retail (a block at most that spills over a couple of store fronts) - but there are nice stores with loyal clientele.

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I think the East Fulton area (Fulton & Diamond) is already there. There are very few vacancies, and some very unique upscale galleries and boutiques. It's one of many "streetcar" neighborhood centers in Grand Rapids. Would you like to see something in that area that isn't there now?

I think we've talked about his several times before, but South Division from Fulton to Wealthy will never evolve from a beatnik/artists' community to a mainstream gentrified area with Dwelling Place owning half of it, and the missions there. I've talked to people who live downtown now who still will not visit the art galleries along South Division because of the concentration of homeless people. But as far as potential, it's probably the one area of downtown that reminds me the most of places like downtown Holland or Grand Haven, with many beautiful older buildings and a lot of ground floor retail spaces. I think it would make a nicer retail shopping area than Monroe Center.

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