DDA OKs steps to create Grand River redevelopment oversight group

Grand Rapids

The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. (Spring 2020)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With numerous Grand River redevelopment projects spearheaded by different groups, Grand Rapids’ Downtown Development Authority is greenlighting more oversight.

The DDA Wednesday morning endorsed Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. taking the first steps towards organizing an independent nonprofit group to develop, manage, program and maintain public areas along the revamped waterfront between Riverside Park and Millennium Park. The DDA also approved up to $42,400 for support services in creating the oversight group and analyzing the benefits of revitalizing the river corridor.

DGRI says the newly-formed group will step in to sustain activity in and around the Grand River after Grand Rapids WhiteWater reaches its goal of restoring the rapids, collaborating with all stakeholders along the riverfront.

“I feel like this is a milestone, a launching pad, something like that,” DDA Chairperson Rick Winn said at the meeting.

DDA member Greg McNeilly voiced a “gnawing concern” about having too many oversight groups over time, which could lead to confusion and “work against the efficiency of public and private dollars.”

“There is a lot of different activity in the river corridor – different partners, different decision-makers, different property owners – and this is really envisioned to you know, be that common wheel that brings those folks together, to open up those lines of conversation, communication and build a collaboration,” said Andy Guy, chief outcomes officer for DGRI.

DGRI says conceptual community planning has revealed more than two dozen “opportunities sites” along the waterfront so far. An analysis presented last month by Grand Action 2.0 identified spots along the river where high-demand housing, business and green space could be added.

Guy said at least one member of the exploratory committee is from the Grand Action 2.0.

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