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woz

Making Monroe Ave people friendly

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The stone wall along Monroe is more a canyon than a streetscape and the plaza is cold and uninviting. In my opinion, a better use of land and more funtional use of space would be to put a PAC at street level along Monroe and build a denser and more urban friendly city/county building.

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Woz,

I have thought the same thing for a long time and talked about it at the last Downtown Retail Task Force meeting. There is about 20 feet from sidewalk to wall almost the whole length of Monroe. I think you could do several things there:

1. Build complete outside of the the ramp (in the 20 ft space) and have wide bays of retail/bars.

2. Blast through the wall, take out one or two rows of parking and make them deeper. widen the sidewalks, add space for outdoor dining.

Either way, I would also enhance the plaza above (on the Monroe side of the city/county buildings). Make the rooftops part of the plaza, and also consider putting in outdoor seating for the restaurant/bars below.

You stole my thunder. I was going to show GRDad this at the last DRTF meeting, but he wussed out for his Birthday or something insignificant like that. :)

What does everybody think of that? The entire stretch of Monroe would become pedestrian friendly. Parking ramp openings could be enhanced to be more visually appealing.

Joe

Has anyone looked at the feasability of taking out one row of parking on the Monroe Avenue level of the City/County ramp and building in a narrow strip of retail bays up to the sidewalk in place of that stone wall?

There's some serious set-back from the sidewalk along Monroe and also up top on the Plaza Level. I would think that cafes or quick bite-type restaurants could do well there by targeting the employees of the City/County buildings during the week and conventioneers on the weekends. This would eliminate the unfriendly stone wall along Monroe Avenue without messing with the Calder and its context -- which I believe is an important consideration.

Besides, putting a performing arts center that close to the convention center and DeVos Performance Hall might make for some nightmarish parking problems and traffic snarls on the occassional nights when all three venues are booked.

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I decided to make this a new topic as I personally think it is a brilliant idea and very feasible. What does everyone else think?

Joe

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I decided to make this a new topic as I personally think it is a brilliant idea and very feasible. What does everyone else think?

Joe

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I, too, have always though EXACTLY the same thing. How do we get it done?

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The space is adequate, but the street is too wide with nothing on the other side, and the area seems barren. But I could be wrong. It would have to be worth walking to from other parts of downtown. Monroe street there is a "B" street, a street only to travel on.

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I seem to remember Logie looking at a couple of different options for that wall, including adding retail. But you'd HAVE to have on-street parking right in front of the retailers or they won't survive. Pretty much everything I've read so far regarding downtown retail says that exact thing, and it's one reason why retail in the Keeler Bldg can't stay afloat.

So you take 10 or 20 feet out of a portion of the ramp, 20 feet of the grassy area, and 10' for metered parking.

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I seem to remember Logie looking at a couple of different options for that wall, including adding retail. But you'd HAVE to have on-street parking right in front of the retailers or they won't survive. Pretty much everything I've read so far regarding downtown retail says that exact thing, and it's one reason why retail in the Keeler Bldg can't stay afloat.

So you take 10 or 20 feet out of a portion of the ramp, 20 feet of the grassy area, and 10' for metered parking.

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Well, if nothing happens there in the next couple years, maybe I'll make it my senior thesis.

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I've long thought the same thing. It would be really cool if there were two or three levels of retail there with the upper level accessible from the plaza. I wonder if we filled in all these little wasted spaces with retail if it would become the critical mass needed to make downtown a shopping destination. The 20' strip by itself wouldn't be enough, but I'm just thinking if we had the volume of retail bays that a mall has concentrated downtown if we could lure some big name retailers downtown which in turn would attract more retailers and so on.

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Love that so many people are thinking the same thought for this location...it definitely needs something.

...But you'd HAVE to have on-street parking right in front of the retailers or they won't survive.

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On street parking is definitely a must, but not because it provides enough parking, not even close. It just gives the perception of readily available parking. It also slows down traffic making the area more pedestrian friendly. I'm sure there are many other reasons as well. Let me ask you this: have you ever seen a successful downtown retail strip that didn't have on-street parking?

Look at the Ace Hardware on Michigan. Sure, it's built out to the street, but the street is a 4-lane road with a turn lane at the intersection. Cars don't go very slow there. As a pedestrian shopper would that setup sound appealing? What if there were retail along Fulton downtown. There's no parking there and as a pedestrian it's a much less inviting street. Cars fly by and there's no buffer. No planters, wide sidewalk, or...parked cars.

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ok if this is a city owned lot how about this... bite the bullet and give FREE validated parking to the shoppers on those stores. that would have to attract retail. right?

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ok if this is a city owned lot how about this... bite the bullet and give FREE validated parking to the shoppers on those stores. that would have to attract retail. right?

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I cannot believe GR doesn't do that already.

Even Birmingham with its thriving retail allows stores to validate parking. They probably don't need to and they still do it.

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I cannot believe GR doesn't do that already.

Even Birmingham with its thriving retail allows stores to validate parking. They probably don't need to and they still do it.

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Anybody with Sketch Up skills want to show us what Monroe could look like?

*fish

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No sketchup skills left, but here's what I think might work.

1) Renovate the entrance into City Hall and the County Bldg. Take it from entering a "mole tunnel" and turn it into a 3 or 4 story glass atrium open all the way from the inner workings of the ground floor all the way out to Monroe, with maybe "Welcome to Grand Rapids" in lights on the inside of the atrium. Put in a glass elevator overlooking said atrium taking people up to the city hall tower concourse, instead of the strange maze you have to take now to get there. A SQUARE atrium in all glass, no waves, no curves, no curls.

2) Flank this atrium on each side with huge open steps with waterfalls coming down the middle of each one. Would make it easier for conventioneers out for a smoke or a stroll to get up to Calder Plaza and the garden areas

3) Build a retail/mixed-use building on each side of the stairwells, with ground floor access facing Monroe Ave and second floor access facing the new midway landing on the steps (or facing the plaza above). Put in rooftop "green" patios on both buildings. Sell development rights for these two buildings to private developers, helping to fund the atrium expansion and steps

4) Add more trees and landscaping around the county building to soften it up a bit.

5) Add another set of steps that lead up to the new plaza around the Fed Bldg and Motu Viget (tire swing).

582540746_3c2c05aa42_o.jpg

6) Take all those horrible screens off of the East, South and West sides of City Hall that collect all those cobwebs, and expose the beautiful transparent glass that you can only see on the North side. And give it the look I'm sure SOM was hoping to portray:

Bad

582308287_ad2602c369_b.jpg

Good

501255373_8cad6a163b_b.jpg

Anyone at City Hall taking notes. :tough:

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No sketchup skills left, but here's what I think might work.

...

4) Add more trees and landscaping around the county building to soften it up a bit.

582540746_3c2c05aa42_o.jpg

...

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Those proposed trees are right where Adult Involvement holds forth at Festival.

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I think the fact that the city ramp is behind this space would negate the need for parking. I think as part of the "renewal", the parking signs the be very noticeable. Also, 60 min. free with validated parking wouldn't hurt.

Who wants to take some pics so our sketchup masters can go to town?

Joe

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I like the ideas. I have never been a huge fan of the City/County building, but I think the idea of adding a better entrance, something that fits with the fabric of the existing architecture would be a good thing. With more and more convention business plus a close connection to the government / bank buildings, I think it has a pretty large of people to draw from.

The other aspect I like is that it would help connect the stretch of Monroe between Lyon and Michigan. Right now you have a stone wall on one side and the DeVos place wall on the other (the north east side of the building).

I think for a more organic feel it would be interesting to sell 2/3 parcels to different developers plus the connection to the city/county building and Vandenberg Plaza. It would add diversity in design and also bring different developers with different skillsets.

Can I buy this piece of property? If so, I'll take it! :)

Joe

No sketchup skills left, but here's what I think might work.

1) Renovate the entrance into City Hall and the County Bldg. Take it from entering a "mole tunnel" and turn it into a 3 or 4 story glass atrium open all the way from the inner workings of the ground floor all the way out to Monroe, with maybe "Welcome to Grand Rapids" in lights on the inside of the atrium. Put in a glass elevator overlooking said atrium taking people up to the city hall tower concourse, instead of the strange maze you have to take now to get there. A SQUARE atrium in all glass, no waves, no curves, no curls.

2) Flank this atrium on each side with huge open steps with waterfalls coming down the middle of each one. Would make it easier for conventioneers out for a smoke or a stroll to get up to Calder Plaza and the garden areas

3) Build a retail/mixed-use building on each side of the stairwells, with ground floor access facing Monroe Ave and second floor access facing the new midway landing on the steps (or facing the plaza above). Put in rooftop "green" patios on both buildings. Sell development rights for these two buildings to private developers, helping to fund the atrium expansion and steps

4) Add more trees and landscaping around the county building to soften it up a bit.

5) Add another set of steps that lead up to the new plaza around the Fed Bldg and Motu Viget (tire swing).

582540746_3c2c05aa42_o.jpg

6) Take all those horrible screens off of the East, South and West sides of City Hall that collect all those cobwebs, and expose the beautiful transparent glass that you can only see on the North side. And give it the look I'm sure SOM was hoping to portray:

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