GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A yearslong effort to upgrade the iconic amphitheater in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids is one step closer to reality.

On Wednesday morning, the Downtown Development Authority approved up to $550,000 for its share of the improvements to the 3.5-acre Ecliptic park at Rosa Parks Circle, which opened in 2000.

Progressive AE worked with The Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle Conservancy as well as Ecliptic creator Maya Lin (who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C.) and her studio to outline priorities for the project.

(An undated aerial photo by “Until Love Is Equal” provided by Clark Communications shows Grand Rapids’ Rosa Parks Circle.)

While original project estimates were for just over $2 million, late additions to the project by Lin and rising construction prices during the COVID-19 pandemic drove up the final project cost to between $2.46 million and $2.87 million.

The planned improvements include replacing the concrete steps with granite, renovating and recladding the bathrooms to match the panels at the nearby Grand Rapids Art Museum, replacing pole lights with LEDs, and new signs, benches and trees. The white birch trees will remain.

If the Grand Rapids City Commission approves funding its portion of the project in two weeks, stakeholders expect construction to start in May.