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daniel nudnik

west sides: ann arbor and grand rapids

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a tale of two:

concerning the GR west side, one after another article talking about the neighborhoods (turner, broadway, etc.) completely transforming proves the superiority of the city's technique. full range of people and rent deals, diminishing acceptance of old planning techniques - downtown "shopping malls," use separation, anti-compactness. it seems far ahead of ann arbor lately.

lately some city-owned property in the A2 west side has come under debate over whether a mixed-use project belongs there or if the old lots on the site should be turned over to a "greenway," as the immediate neighbors suggest. in point of fact, this property just happens to be in the middle of a growing mixed-use zone.

of course the greenway plans also envision some property buyouts in the existing mixed use neighborhoods to the north and west of the site. but they're not talking about that right now. nevermind that. there's no money for any park in the sites all. but that's another story too - what exactly going on here? I ask you, I don't know.

earlier in the week the A2 news ran a story citing estimates of the land's value, and the numbers were in the range of insane - $75 million for 50 acres of land in the floodplain - although that was a somewhat sensationalized figure. nobody could rationally envision that, but they could lock opposition to the spectre of it into policy so that the site remains free of any development. because everybody knows wide open paved spaces downtown are great.

Grand Rapids, however, seems to lack this element. and anyway, how much money is the city soliciting for a project at the center of town - about 1 million dollars? in light of the difference I can see how easy has it been for people to take a chance in grand rapids as opposed to in ann arbor. we see now a dramatic qualitative difference. who among the two is going to be the best at attracting the most interesting stuff?

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a tale of two:

concerning the GR west side, one after another article talking about the neighborhoods (turner, broadway, etc.) completely transforming proves the superiority of the city's technique. full range of people and rent deals, diminishing acceptance of old planning techniques - downtown "shopping malls," use separation, anti-compactness. it seems far ahead of ann arbor lately.

lately some city-owned property in the A2 west side has come under debate over whether a mixed-use project belongs there or if the old lots on the site should be turned over to a "greenway," as the immediate neighbors suggest. in point of fact, this property just happens to be in the middle of a growing mixed-use zone.

of course the greenway plans also envision some property buyouts in the existing mixed use neighborhoods to the north and west of the site. but they're not talking about that right now. nevermind that.  there's no money for any park in the sites all. but that's another story too - what exactly going on here? I ask you, I don't know.

earlier in the week the A2 news ran a story citing estimates of the land's value, and the numbers were in the range of insane - $75 million for 50 acres of land in the floodplain - although that was a somewhat sensationalized figure. nobody could rationally envision that, but they could lock opposition to the spectre of it into policy so that the site remains free of any development. because everybody knows wide open paved spaces downtown are great.

Grand Rapids, however, seems to lack this element. and anyway, how much money is the city soliciting for a project at the center of town - about 1 million dollars? in light of the difference I can see how easy has it been for people to take a chance in grand rapids as opposed to in ann arbor. we see now a dramatic qualitative difference. who among the two is going to be the best at attracting the most interesting stuff?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ann Arbor has(was) always considered the "young hip" city, but lately it's own self-centeredness has been hampering it. Ann Arbor is and always will be a college town, and as such large companies are less likely to move into established college towns.

Grand Rapids has a sustainable college. What I mean by that is that they are not too large to make it the focus of the town, but not so small its practically irrelevent. I don't include Community Colleges in this equation, because generally they arent regarded in the whole "college town" equation. They are important, as they train a wide range of people, but when affecting buisness development the impact of a community college is negligable.

Ann Arbor is the slippery slope of rising land costs, and the behemoth University of Michigan.

Grand Rapids has a small college of around 10,000 students (Downtown GVSU), and its not as significant to the city as a whole like UofM is to Ann Arbor. College is great it serves a vital function to society, but universities and the like can and do suffocate their host cities.

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Ann Arbor has(was) always considered the "young hip" city, but lately it's own self-centeredness has been hampering it. Ann Arbor is and always will be a college town, and as such large companies are less likely to move into established college towns.

Grand Rapids has a sustainable college. What I mean by that is that they are not too large to make it the focus of the town, but not so small its practically irrelevent. I don't include Community Colleges in this equation, because generally they arent regarded in the whole "college town" equation. They are important, as they train a wide range of people, but when affecting buisness development the impact of a community college is negligable.

Ann Arbor is the slippery slope of rising land costs, and the behemoth University of Michigan.

Grand Rapids has a small college of around 10,000 students (Downtown GVSU), and its not as significant to the city as a whole like UofM is to Ann Arbor. College is great it serves a vital function to society, but universities and the like can and do suffocate their host cities.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually I beg to Differ, I think Ann Arbor has the right stuff. What

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my hunch is that you are both right. what I mean by this is that ann arbor will continue to be an extremely successful place, although likely on different terms. increasingly, the economy of a2 will depend on big-money elite projects. pfizer r and d is a large employer here, and large parts of town are entirely devoted to the high tech sector and the people who work in it. needless to say, income levels are high, as are property values, as is the cost of living.

all the same, as freddy said, it is a self-sustaining city in its own right which happens to sit at the (disgustingly) exploding suburban edge of detroit. washtenaw co. has a patchwork of smart growth laws (such as public lands "greenbelt" purchasing programs) but alas, too little. elite development proceeds in and around the city. the poor and middle class have thus far been given no voice. but that is slightly changing.

grand rapids has the potential to attract less well-funded, more creative projects - and of course the residents who start them and work for them. I mean this in terms of research and business development, the arts sector, independent media, restaurants and coffee shps. in truth all of the above (except research) are growing much more quickly - right now even - in GR than a2.

so my suspicion is that A2 will continue becoming a very elite place in the future, while GR might be the creative place that increasingly sustains the state and its reputation.

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my hunch is that you are both right. what I mean by this is that ann arbor will continue to be an extremely successful place, although likely on different terms. increasingly, the economy of a2 will depend on big-money elite projects. pfizer r and d is a large employer here, and large parts of town are entirely devoted to the high tech sector and the people who work in it. needless to say, income levels are high, as are property values, as is the cost of living.

all the same, as freddy said, it is a self-sustaining city in its own right which happens to sit at the (disgustingly) exploding suburban edge of detroit. washtenaw co. has a patchwork of smart growth laws (such as public lands "greenbelt" purchasing programs) but alas, too little. elite development proceeds in and around the city. the poor and middle class have thus far been given no voice. but that is slightly changing.

grand rapids has the potential to attract less well-funded, more creative projects - and of course the residents who start them and work for them. I mean this in terms of research and business development, the arts sector, independent media, restaurants and coffee shps. in truth all of the above (except research) are growing much more quickly - right now even - in GR than a2.

so my suspicion is that A2 will continue becoming a very elite place in the future, while GR might be the creative place that increasingly sustains the state and its reputation.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Interesting.....yes...anytime there is "smart growth" freedom of development is restricted and prices in the core rise due to supply demand forces. One would think that A2 could develope some density like Canadian cities.

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Grand Rapids has almost as many students downtown as Ann Arbor does. Well maybe not that close (but UM is spread out all over the place) but comparable. Last I counted, there were nearly 26 - 28,000 students that go to school in downtown Grand Rapids. Granted, that includes CCs, but they do count.

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Grand Rapids has almost as many students downtown as Ann Arbor does. Well maybe not that close (but UM is spread out all over the place) but comparable.  Last I counted, there were nearly 26 - 28,000 students that go to school in downtown Grand Rapids.  Granted, that includes CCs, but they do count.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I dont know A2's CC population, but I imagine its about the same as GRs, hence that why I didn't include them in the same equation.

I was comparing similar schools, which GR has one university. A2 has one university, and their populations are hardly the same.

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