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GRDadof3

Why is nothing being developed to draw more suburbanites to downtown?

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Even though this Market Study done by the DDA a few years ago shows that many current visitors to downtown originate from outside the city (suburbs), why is there not more being done to try and draw more suburbanites downtown?

) Most of the large-scale developments built recently (JW and the convention center for instance) are specifically geared to draw people from outside of West Michigan or outside the state.

) There seems to be a defeatist attitude amongst the DA people that suburbanites and their "Gap Stores" aren't wanted or needed downtown. Why is that?

) Recent statement from a GRPS board member telling people who don't enroll at GRPS to "move out".

) Considering that the 3/4's of the metro area, and much higher incomes, reside outside the city, isn't there a massive market to be tapped into?

) Very little, if any efforts or incentives, seem to be taking place to woo suburban employers to downtown. Why not?

) Is there an "anti-suburban" mentality running through the streets? Through city hall?

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Even though this Market Study done by the DDA a few years ago shows that many current visitors to downtown originate from outside the city (suburbs), why is there not more being done to try and draw more suburbanites downtown?

) Most of the large-scale developments built recently (JW and the convention center for instance) are specifically geared to draw people from outside of West Michigan or outside the state.

) There seems to be a defeatist attitude amongst the DA people that suburbanites and their "Gap Stores" aren't wanted or needed downtown. Why is that?

) Recent statement from a GRPS board member telling people who don't enroll at GRPS to "move out".

) Considering that the 3/4's of the metro area, and much higher incomes, reside outside the city, isn't there a massive market to be tapped into?

) Very little, if any efforts or incentives, seem to be taking place to woo suburban employers to downtown. Why not?

) Is there an "anti-suburban" mentality running through the streets? Through city hall?

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Even though this Market Study done by the DDA a few years ago shows that many current visitors to downtown originate from outside the city (suburbs), why is there not more being done to try and draw more suburbanites downtown?

) Most of the large-scale developments built recently (JW and the convention center for instance) are specifically geared to draw people from outside of West Michigan or outside the state.

) There seems to be a defeatist attitude amongst the DA people that suburbanites and their "Gap Stores" aren't wanted or needed downtown. Why is that?

) Recent statement from a GRPS board member telling people who don't enroll at GRPS to "move out".

) Considering that the 3/4's of the metro area, and much higher incomes, reside outside the city, isn't there a massive market to be tapped into?

) Very little, if any efforts or incentives, seem to be taking place to woo suburban employers to downtown. Why not?

) Is there an "anti-suburban" mentality running through the streets? Through city hall?

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Also, I think that a marketing campaign could be very effective. We have discussed this at DTRTF meet ups, but for those who haven't made it, here's the idea:

Night out in the burbs: Drive to restaurant, look at parking lot, walk inside, eat at Johny O'Chilibees, walk to car, go to home or drive to movie theater.

Night out downtown: Park the car, walk around the great architecture/art/interesting people, eat at one of many great, unique, locally owned establishments, catch a concert/game/play/ballet/comedy show/museum, visit a bar for drinks, visit another place for desert, walk along the river, grab some late night coffee, skate at Rosa Parks...etc.

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Also, I think that a marketing campaign could be very effective. We have discussed this at DTRTF meet ups, but for those who haven't made it, here's the idea:

Night out in the burbs: Drive to restaurant, look at parking lot, walk inside, eat at Johny O'Chilibees, walk to car, go to home or drive to movie theater.

Night out downtown: Park the car, walk around the great architecture/art/interesting people, eat at one of many great, unique, locally owned establishments, catch a concert/game/play/ballet/comedy show/museum, visit a bar for drinks, visit another place for desert, walk along the river, grab some late night coffee, skate at Rosa Parks...etc.

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Great topic.

Like it or not, the suburbs are here to stay and urban places like GR are just going to have to make the best of them. I'm also amazed at the lack of interest to draw in suburbanites to downtown. I think to a certain extent that there is a discriminating pride and inferiority complex in GR that believes the city doesn't need the patronizing of suburban residents.

However, from a strictly business point of view, how could you not want to cater to such a large market? If there is one thing that is true about suburban residents, they are willing to drive to a destination if they deem it worth going to. If GR were to construct a development that appeals to suburbanites what they have to do is offer something unique that existing suburban developments can't and that is proximity to other venues and amenities as well as the overall urban 'experience'.

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Well the Great thing about Grand Rapids, is that even in the outer suburbs you're still only 20 minutes from downtown. They are starting to creep out a little farther, but you're talking 600,000 people within a painless drive to the core. So you can call it a destination, but in my book a destination is something you plan for. Getting people downtown should be a little easier than that from a convenience stand point alone.

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Thanks! I think too that "lack of parking" is a red herring straw man argument that is thrown up a lot by downtown people. If you create something with enough buzz and energy, people will pay to park or put up with the incovenience. Look at arena events. If I'm going to see Hannah Montana or Toby Keith (hypothetical, I don't like either :P ), I don't at all mind paying $6 for event parking. If I'm running downtown to meet friends for a drink, or eat dinner, there's NO WAY I'm paying $6 for parking. Yet the city makes a big deal that they've extended their one hour free parking in the MC ramp this holiday season. Big whoop! I have free parking at Woodland too, and I'll put up with the traffic mess because I have much more to choose from.

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Like it or not, lack of parking is a major concern for just about everyone I know, including myself - i often drive around for 20 minutes looking for parking, even when i'm willing to pay $6 to park.

It's disgusting to see many of the city lots WIDE open at night. Why don't they let people park in them? (The lot south of van andel arena, and the lot north of charley's crab.)

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I think the alleged parking problem is due to a combination of misconceptions and laziness. I have NEVER had a problem finding parking downtown, even when there are multiple events going on downtown. For example, during our last Retail Task Force meeting, the Pistons game was going on and there were a few other events going on at the same time. We met at Four Friends. Obviously, there wasn't any parking on Monroe Center. However, there were a handful of METERED spots (free after 6) on Ottawa by Calder Plaza. Yes, I had to walk a couple of blocks, but COME ON...is that a big deal? Even if you cannot park for free at the meters, there are always parking spots at GVSU downtown (gates up after 6 for anybody to use). Again, you have to walk a little bit, but are we really that lazy? Every time I have to walk a few blocks, it only gives me further appreciation for our beautiful city. On top of that, there always seem to be spots open in the Ellis and City lots. You will pay here, but I suppose some people would rather pay $6 to avoid walking a few blocks.

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I think the alleged parking problem is due to a combination of misconceptions and laziness. I have NEVER had a problem finding parking downtown, even when there are multiple events going on downtown. For example, during our last Retail Task Force meeting, the Pistons game was going on and there were a few other events going on at the same time. We met at Four Friends. Obviously, there wasn't any parking on Monroe Center. However, there were a handful of METERED spots (free after 6) on Ottawa by Calder Plaza. Yes, I had to walk a couple of blocks, but COME ON...is that a big deal? Even if you cannot park for free at the meters, there are always parking spots at GVSU downtown (gates up after 6 for anybody to use). Again, you have to walk a little bit, but are we really that lazy? Every time I have to walk a few blocks, it only gives me further appreciation for our beautiful city. On top of that, there always seem to be spots open in the Ellis and City lots. You will pay here, but I suppose some people would rather pay $6 to avoid walking a few blocks.

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So besides parking, is the city being short-sighted? Are people with good ideas for downtown being squeezed out of the discussion?

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Just sell the walking a few blocks part as free exercise. Come downtown for dinner and burn 100 calories before and after without having to buy a gym membership!

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I think the alleged parking problem is due to a combination of misconceptions and laziness. I have NEVER had a problem finding parking downtown, even when there are multiple events going on downtown. For example, during our last Retail Task Force meeting, the Pistons game was going on and there were a few other events going on at the same time. We met at Four Friends. Obviously, there wasn't any parking on Monroe Center. However, there were a handful of METERED spots (free after 6) on Ottawa by Calder Plaza. Yes, I had to walk a couple of blocks, but COME ON...is that a big deal? Even if you cannot park for free at the meters, there are always parking spots at GVSU downtown (gates up after 6 for anybody to use). Again, you have to walk a little bit, but are we really that lazy? Every time I have to walk a few blocks, it only gives me further appreciation for our beautiful city. On top of that, there always seem to be spots open in the Ellis and City lots. You will pay here, but I suppose some people would rather pay $6 to avoid walking a few blocks.

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I'll take a spot from Cherry to Michigan - anywhere. And I still have a nightmare trying to park.

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I'll take a spot from Cherry to Michigan - anywhere. And I still have a nightmare trying to park.

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Just sell the walking a few blocks part as free exercise. Come downtown for dinner and burn 100 calories before and after without having to buy a gym membership!

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I don't think the parking is a problem for anyone that has worked downtown for any amount of time. But I do know that when we have met friends DT for dinner I always end up parking within a block or two of the building (with no difficulty). Others at the same meal have had a terrible time finding a spot. I think it has to do with not knowing where things are in relation to each other (like if your looking for a spot near the front door of the BOB you may have a problem).

I also think that many suburbanites do utilize downtown. I know that my wife and I are down there regularly. We are actually downtown more now that I don't work downtown because by the time I got back from work and ready to go out I did not really feel like heading right back down there.

The idea of opening the Art Museum or the VanAndel Museum as a special invitation to bring people down is a great idea!

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There seems to be more than enough parking downtown but like others of said I think its often the case that people just don't realize or are not aware. I go downtown all the time on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and usually don't have any trouble (probably because its at night). I either park across from McFadden's for $3 or if I think there is a chance my car might be staying the night, I fork over the 6 and park in the parking garage on Ionia across from the Van Andel. I love that garage...it is central to absolutely everything and I've never had to park higher than about the 3rd floor. My brother once parked on the roof for a Griffins game just for the view and there wasn't anyone else up there. I would love to see all the surface lots eliminated and concentrated into a few new parking structures, ideally integrated with new developments. Maybe the city needs to do a better job indicating just how much parking there is available through maps/website/brochure/mass mailing or something. Opening the lots after 5pm, especially for lots not as close to Van Andel is also a good idea.

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Let's get away from parking for a minute. :) If you look at the downtown market survey, 34% of respondents in the metro area never or rarely ever come downtown because "there is nothing to do there". When asked what could be done to improve respondents' chances of coming downtown, the number #1 answer was "better stores" (26% of respondents). So yes, a marketing campaign would be great, but you don't want to "over-promise" and "under-deliver". Those people might never give it another chance.

I think that's the point from which to start..

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The best and greatest example that I can give to a vibrant, charming retail sector of a comparable city would be Santa Barbara, California. State St. in that city is the place to be for retail, for you have anything from a Levi Jeans outlet, to chain bookstores, Starbucks, GAP, high end resturants, the city's library (I believe), multiple jewelry stores, thumpin' nightclubs and of course, plenty of mass transit stops. If you're ever in Cali, all you'll ever hear about is State Street.

I really wish we had a better riverfront on the Grand. Having a river that is barricaded due to floodwalls is not as charming as say, the Riverwalk in San Antonio which has great shops and resturants literally right on (even overhanging) the river. There's even a brand new, multi-storied mall with an IMAX theater within walking distance of it too. Besides the Ford Prez Museum, the floodwalls make it difficult to create a great riverwalk. That and our infant retail sector is not located near the river. In fact, I don't know exactly where it's located.

When asked what could be done to improve respondents' chances of coming downtown, the number #1 answer was "better stores" (26% of respondents).

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Let's get away from parking for a minute. :) If you look at the downtown market survey, 34% of respondents in the metro area never or rarely ever come downtown because "there is nothing to do there". When asked what could be done to improve respondents' chances of coming downtown, the number #1 answer was "better stores" (26% of respondents). So yes, a marketing campaign would be great, but you don't want to "over-promise" and "under-deliver". Those people might never give it another chance.

I think that's the point from which to start..

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The parking situation downtown is a little frustrating, but I've gotten around it by parking on the East side of Division Ave. There's always plenty of parking by UICA and the old JC's building.

As for drawing more people downtown, I think it starts with retail. There's no shortage of restaurants and bars downtown, but where's the retail? Let's say I come into GR for a convention and realize I've left my "going" out clothes at home. Where do I go downtown? Exactly, I hop in a cab or rental car and hit up the mall and buy something from the Gap, Banana Republic, Limited, etc. Yes there's Little Bohemia, but, me personally, I generally stay away from the incense and patchouli scent when heading out. As for retail, not to say it has to be a Gap, Banana Republic, or Limited stores, but when you go into a downtown city, these are the stores you find.

I believe downtown will always be a destination spot. Take Chicago for example. When most people think of Chicago, they think Magnificent Mile, Sears Tower, Navy Pier, the museums, Grant Park, etc. However, the more you visit Chicago or have ever lived there, you find you don't want to go anywhere near downtown unless you absolutely have to. It's the areas like Bucktown, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville, Ukrainian Village to name a few, that are more enjoyable. And also where most people live. I think it's these outlying areas in our city, The Heritage Hills, Cherry Hills, Plainfield and Leonard Area, Westside, etc., that could benefit most by the suburbanites.

Perhaps I got sidetracked. I think the retail would definitely help downtown. I would much rather walk from where I live in HH to downtown for shopping, than get in my car and drive to Woodland.

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I think that any business owner would be glad to have people from the suburbs visit their stores. I also think that people will not drive downtown to go some place if they can get to one closer to their homes that have big parking lots. I grew up about twenty minutes from downtown Chicago, and we only went downtown to either see the Christmas tree lighting/window displays, go to a specific restaurant, museum/cultural/civic event, sport event, concert, or a unique store, and sometimes just to walk on the lake shore. Is anyone downtown saying don't open stores or have events that would draw people from the suburbs in? Is anyone saying to stores in the suburbs don't come here? For the most part I don't think so, though some may argue about having large chain stores. Maybe the lease rates are prohibitive, or maybe people are misinformed about what is downtown. Maybe people are just too used to going to the mall.

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