Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

joeDowntown

Do People Get "it"?

Recommended Posts

Do people really GET what "it" takes to build a vibrant downtown? I am starting to wonder. Today's Grand Rapids Press has a story from the business editor, Nancy Crawley, titled "Just what doctor ordered for downtown". In it, she exclaims "So when the city unsealed bids last week for the empty lot at the southwest corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street, imagine how pleased I was to see John Wheeler and Vern Ohlman's project includes a drugstore".

She goes on to say "The 10,000-square-foot store would have off-street parking and a drive-through window".

Wow! Now that is innovation! Raising the bar for a better downtown. She is truly giddy that Rockford Construction has a letter of intent from CVS Pharmacy. Look, I understand that a Pharmacy would be a nice addition to downtown; further rendering the gas guzzler useless, but is CVS really the white horse coming in to downtown to save all Grand Rapidians from the suburbs?

I don't know about anybody else, but I have never heard anyone blurt out how cool downtown is because it has a Quizno's, Subway or any other establishment that can be found anywhere in the metro GR area. People are moving downtown as fast as condos and apartments are going up because of the restaurants, bars and other cool things there are to do in the city. In fact, people know that moving downtown comes with its inconveniences such as having to drive to the grocery store or driving a few miles to get a prescription. It doesn't seem to be stopping anyone so far.

RSC & Associates is pushing a much more interesting, high density development. "Their sleek design, with a handsome curving glass front, has space for condos, a jazz club and bookstore." says Nancy.

Sam Cummings, who is involved with the RSC project obviously gets "it". He tells the Press "Such a bold statement at the gateway to downtown is incredibly important, the design is just outstanding. It (the RSC/Second Story design) grabs that corner and pushes the envelope." He also states "I appreciate everyone wanting a drugstore downtown, that's worthy of being pursued, but in a location so pivotal and so critical to the personality of the city, we can do better." Right on, Sam!

What Nancy forgets is that CVS is not moving downtown out of the kindness of their hearts. It's all about money and it is BECAUSE of the people who are moving downtown that these types of businesses are starting to stand up and take notice.

I put high praise on pretty much *everything* Rockford Construction and Design Plus has done for the city but their proposal has been out-classed (and outbid in $$$ mind you) by another urban pioneer and his new friends from Chicago. It would be silly to use such an important downtown corner for a suburban pharmacy. It also would be silly to think that a pharmacy find another place downtown, regardless of the City Centre lot. Hopefully, when it does, it will be a truly urban design in the right location. Next up:

"Welcome to Grand Rapids, sponsored in part by CVS store #6997."

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


you got that right joe.

so what are we going to to, folks?

we have to write the city: the mayor, the commission, the planning board.

we have to write the newspaper.

we have to tell them to take their chain store and parking lot and put it in walker where it belongs!

I don't know about you but I'm starting now.

GR Press letters to the editor: [email protected]

letters to go on record with the city commission:

http://www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_id=709

george heartwell:

[email protected]

Do people really GET what "it" takes to build a vibrant downtown? I am starting to wonder. Today's Grand Rapids Press has a story from the business editor, Nancy Crawley, titled "Just what doctor ordered for downtown". In it, she exclaims "So when the city unsealed bids last week for the empty lot at the southwest corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street, imagine how pleased I was to see John Wheeler and Vern Ohlman's project includes a drugstore".

She goes on to say "The 10,000-square-foot store would have off-street parking and a drive-through window".

Wow! Now that is innovation! Raising the bar for a better downtown. She is truly giddy that Rockford Construction has a letter of intent from CVS Pharmacy. Look, I understand that a Pharmacy would be a nice addition to downtown; further rendering the gas guzzler useless, but is CVS really the white horse coming in to downtown to save all Grand Rapidians from the suburbs?

I don't know about anybody else, but I have never heard anyone blurt out how cool downtown is because it has a Quizno's, Subway or any other establishment

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I am not for that project, as I read that editorial I did see the positive elements in it. The most important, this would mark the first new major retail development in downtown in the last twenty years almost. Would something like this (if it works) draw more diverse retail solutions downtown. Wheeler is right when he says that at some point, someone will need to bring the retail downtown - or none of it will work.

This may not be the best solution, but it would actually be a landmark in terms of downtown development if it were to happen. I still like the other Chicago based project - and I am still more than confident that it will probably win.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You and I were thinking exactly the same, Joe. When I read that editorial I couldn't believe that someone would speak praise of a drive-thru CVS on one of the city's most important intersections.

She quoted former mayor John Logie describing the 4 things the downtown needs to serve urban residents: a bookstore, a movie theatre, a grocery store, and a drugstore. I whole-heartedly agree a full service drugstore is needed...but NOT a CVS and most certainly NOT on Division-Fulton!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

cvs?

i see that dirt lot from my offices, i should buy it and put in a big red barn. open a petting zoo.

thats is some blk ass dirt, i bet i could get 14' corn staks for years out of that site.

rockford built that pretty precast sail-fin tuna boat building behind the arena, let give that dirt to an outside arch. firm with some design skills.

"women want guys with skills, bow hunting skills, arch design skills, numchuck skills"

-napolean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You and I were thinking exactly the same, Joe.  When I read that editorial I couldn't believe that someone would speak praise of a drive-thru CVS on one of the city's most important intersections. 

She quoted former mayor John Logie describing the 4 things the downtown needs to serve urban residents:  a bookstore, a movie theatre, a grocery store, and a drugstore.  I whole-heartedly agree a full service drugstore is needed...but NOT a CVS and most certainly NOT on Division-Fulton!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I could see a CVS opening up on say Michigan Street to the east of College, but not at Division and Fulton. Foe the actual size and stature of the corner, the one from the cascade firm is the mosr promising in my view. The one from RCS is kinda slanky, and while it has height, it lacks girth.

The cascade project has height AND girth, and its not too obstructive from what I can tell, but all of these projects are going to need parking. Where in the world will that come from?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Snoogit,

As a requirement, all of the project HAVE to include parking. I think the parking in the RSC project is in back of the curved glass portion with the parking entrance off Division. From what I hear from people who have seen the model, it is a really cool design. Here is a picture you may not have seen before:

citycentermodel.jpg

The perspective is on Louis Street (by Leo's) looking toward the city centre lot (and police station).

Also, I noticed that the architect is Built Form Architecture. They are the designers of this project in Minneapolis: Skyscape.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you sir have a sweet hookup for images.

I am impressed. The mayor also wrote me back about the project.

letter to the paper should be on its way too.

Snoogit,

As a requirement, all of the project HAVE to include parking. I think the parking in the RSC project is in back of the curved glass portion with the parking entrance off Division. From what I hear from people who have seen the model, it is a really cool design. Here is a picture you may not have seen before:

citycentermodel.jpg

The perspective is on Louis Street (by Leo's) looking toward the city centre lot (and police station).

Also, I noticed that the architect is Built Form Architecture. They are the designers of this project in Minneapolis: Skyscape.

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was a personal letter. His response was very intelligent. He said that the evaluation of the proposals was proceeding considering every revelevant factor (design, economic development potential for the neighborhood, sustainability) and that he was sure, upon this evaluation, that the best project would rise quickly to the surface.

Daniel,

What did the mayor say? Was it a form letter or something personal?

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Snoogit,

As a requirement, all of the project HAVE to include parking. I think the parking in the RSC project is in back of the curved glass portion with the parking entrance off Division. From what I hear from people who have seen the model, it is a really cool design. Here is a picture you may not have seen before:

citycentermodel.jpg

The perspective is on Louis Street (by Leo's) looking toward the city centre lot (and police station).

Also, I noticed that the architect is Built Form Architecture. They are the designers of this project in Minneapolis: Skyscape.

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It looks great from that angle, but what i'm really afraid of is this:

citycentre1.gif

(circled in red)

I'm assuming thats division and fulton. now to me, thats a little... well... short?

It lacks a real OOmph that the second project in that photo had, it was big bold, it stood out. This just kinda well looks like an odd spike in a statistical graph. To me, it just seems wimpy.

Heck if they just flipped it around and had the tall section right on the corner with the parking ramp off facing the other direction, I'd be happier with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks great from that angle, but what i'm really afraid of is this:

Why? It gives the site some variation and houses the other parts of the development. Building tall is not the only requirement for a good building (or for a whole lot). I think it strikes a good balance while offering everything and more in one single package.

If you ask me the Cascade plan resembles a towering fortress with little detail, and little care for perspective. It will eat the entire lot. Now, some people want this, but I can guarantee that the city commission does not, nor do I.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. Taller is denser, and denser is better, but "better" can be achieved in other ways besides height. The Skyscape project this firm designed for Minneapolis illustrates better than the renderings of their City Centre lot proposal how well they have been able to incorporate low- and high-rise architecture into the same development. The piece of the development right on the corner of Fulton and Division adds interest and also will compliment the low-rise JA building across Division Avenue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. Taller is denser, and denser is better, but "better" can be achieved in other ways besides height. The Skyscape project this firm designed for Minneapolis illustrates better than the renderings of their City Centre lot proposal how well they have been able to incorporate low- and high-rise architecture into the same development. The piece of the development right on the corner of Fulton and Division adds interest and also will compliment the low-rise JA building across Division Avenue.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Isnt the JA building going to be converted into a 14 story condominum tower?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it will be incorporated into the 14 story building, but not be demolished. Actually, if people want a CVS on that corner. put it in the JA building... :) Just don't let it beat out the superior design of the RSC & Associates design. I need to contact those guys and see if I can get some better renderings...

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it will be incorporated into the 14 story building, but not be demolished. Actually, if people want a CVS on that corner. put it in the JA building... :) Just don't let it beat out the superior design of the RSC & Associates design. I need to contact those guys and see if I can get some better renderings...

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I thought they were going to kind of build on top of it?

I dunno. I havent seen any renders

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought they were going to kind of build on top of it?

I dunno. I havent seen any renders

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Snoogit, Check out this months Grand Rapids Magazine. They have a good rendering with the JA building in it.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found a perfect spot for the all-mighty pharmacy "everyone" wants downtown. If they REALLY want a suburban style pharmacy they should look at the former (or soon to be former) Mercantile Bank HQ. It is setup nicely for retail (having been an office supply store and then a bank). It sits close to the core city of downtown on Division, and it has the square footage. Off-street parking, etc. Move it to this location. A little interior demolition and reconstruction and you are good to go with a nice little chain drug store. Nancy Crawley surely could drive her car from the press

Another thought, is Meijer listening to the plea's for a pharmacy downtown? This would be a great philanthropic offering to downtown GR. Build a Meijer Pharmacy, downtown, in the right location and with a nice big sculpture sitting out front. :)

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found a perfect spot for the all-mighty pharmacy "everyone" wants downtown. If they REALLY want a suburban style pharmacy they should look at the former (or soon to be former) Mercantile Bank HQ. It is setup nicely for retail (having been an office supply store and then a bank). It sits close to the core city of downtown on Division, and it has the square footage. Off-street parking, etc. Move it to this location. A little interior demolition and reconstruction and you are good to go with a nice little chain drug store. Nancy Crawley surely could drive her car from the press

Another thought, is Meijer listening to the plea's for a pharmacy downtown? This would be a great philanthropic offering to downtown GR. Build a Meijer Pharmacy, downtown, in the right location and with a nice big sculpture sitting out front. :)

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Having worked with meijer, I know its not going to be long before they sell out. I think thats why your seeing the great philanthropic contributions today. Fred is trying to get people to remember him before his kids sell the buisness. It really is a sad story over there in Thrifty Acres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a good letter to the editor from today's GR Press. Used without permission, but come on, it's the public pulse... :) I also our very own Daniel's letter to the editor yesterday about the Pharmacy. Great job Daniel. You need to post the letter here. You nailed it on the head.

The March 13 Press column ("Just what the doctor ordered downtown") doesn't tell the whole story.

No, there is no flashing reader sign selling lawn chairs, garden hoses, videos, and milk and eggs or the special of the week. But there is a pharmacy located in the Peter M. Wege Center for Health and Learning lobby.

It is Saint Mary's Family Pharmacy located at 300 Lafayette which has been serving businesses, residents of the downtown and surrounding area and specialty programs since 1984. We are like a Preusser's whose business is jewelry or Groskopf's who specialize in luggage and gifts. It is not located on the "main drag" but it's only a five minute walk from the proposed drugstore at Fulton and Division cited in the article.

We believe in the revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids and acknowledge the growth of condo living. Although we will never have all the bells and whistles of the "big box" chains, we will be here to service the prescription needs of the downtown community.

DAVID RIDOUT

Manager

Saint Mary's Family Pharmacy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it will be incorporated into the 14 story building, but not be demolished. Actually, if people want a CVS on that corner. put it in the JA building... :) Just don't let it beat out the superior design of the RSC & Associates design. I need to contact those guys and see if I can get some better renderings...

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Diplomat Pharmacy just opened downtown on Fulton, west of Lafayette... this locally owned business - as well as another speciality pharmacy at the corner of Fulton & Sheldon are answering the call in the area.

Further, the market study that concluded a need for a pharmacy downtown is three years old... lots has happened since that time.

Lets encourage folks to send letters to the mayor as he is leading the charge for the development of this site... other committee members include Jack Hoffman, Dave Cassard, Richard Craig, Joe Niewick and Com'rs Rabaut and Dean need to be contacted as well.

Retail is indeed needed downtown, but we need to seed the area w/strong local business first, in order to avoid becomming another "Generica". Local stores need first dibs an affordable leases before the Gap comes to feed the culturally deprived. Lets see Schuler's fill up the bookstore proposed by RSC...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For all of those that this issue greatly concerns and who have not been over to the METROPOLITAN CENTER thread yet - PLEASE GET OVER THERE ASAP. MBEI intends to convene an alternative planning charrette in 12 days (as of today). BRING WORLD-CLASS IDEAS for tweeking MBEI Metropolitan Center Proposal. LEAVE DRAMA (unless it applies to the impact of the proposal :) ), ATTITUDES AND STATUS-QUO-KEEPING AT HOME.

-Metrogrkid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Diplomat Pharmacy just opened downtown on Fulton, west of Lafayette...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Slightly off topic, but Diplomat is based in Flint. It caught me by surprise when I was reading your post. It's a good pharmacy, and along with the other independent pharmacy, downtown should be served well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting fact. The city has now decided that the review/interview process for the City Centre ramp will be open to the public.

Interviews will take place from 1 to 4PM on April 30th at the Parking Services office (50 Ottawa, in the Fulton/Ottawa Ramp). The will review the plans of the Fulton/Division project, Rockford Construction and RSC & Associates.

I encourage anyone that can make it to do so. I don't know if public comments will be welcomed, but it would be a great time to voice concerns about our favorite suburban pharmacy as well as get a better glimpse at what they have planned.

Let us know if you are going to go.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.