Lanes, parking spots close in GR for outdoor dining ‘social zones’

Grand Rapids

A June 19, 2020 photo provided by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc shows crews installing concrete barriers on Monroe Center Street NW in downtown Grand Rapids for one of several “social zones” for outdoor dining.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some downtown Grand Rapids streets are being transformed into dining spaces Friday to help businesses bounce back from COVID-19 closures.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, drivers will encounter detours as city workers install concrete barriers around the first four “social zones” in Grand Rapids.

The expanded outdoor dining spaces will be located in the following areas:

  • South side of Bridge Street NW from Summer Avenue to Winter Avenue NW – Two-way traffic will shift north one lane so westbound traffic is in the north parking lane and eastbound traffic is in the formerly westbound lane.
  • Monroe Center Street NW from Ionia Avenue SW to Division Avenue – One lane of traffic will remain open.
  • Ionia Avenue SW from Oakes Street to Fulton Street – One-way northbound traffic only, which will flow in the formerly soutbound lane from Oakes to Weston and shift to the right lane from Weston Street to Fulton Street. The city says the lane changes have been coordinated with The Rapid bus service.
  • Monroe Avenue NW from Trowbridge Street to Bond Avenue to Newberry Street – Normal traffic flow will be restored after the barriers are in place. Expanded seating will extend to on-street parking spaces only.

The city says traffic could also be temporarily impacted in other areas throughout the city Friday as other small-scale social zones are set up.

The city announced the social zone program late last month to help bars and restaurants rebuild business after a three-month closure of dining areas to curb coronavirus. The extra space outdoors helps businesses expand seating to help make up for the 50% capacity restrictions in place because of the pandemic.

>>PDF: Grand Rapids’ Social Zone program

“The goal for us has been to lift regulatory processes and costs so business owners can focus solely on managing their business back to profitability,” said Andy Guy, chief outcomes officer for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

“Ultimately, we’re hopeful these moves help provide a strong foundation for economic recovery in Grand Rapids,” he added.

The four social zones established by the city will be managed by DGRI, which will work with businesses to design seating arrangements, marketing efforts and maintenance.

Businesses looking to open a social zone outside the four areas managed by DGRI must obtain a permit to set up a social zone on public property. Social zones on private property must also go through the city approval process.

(A June 19, 2020 photo provided by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc shows crews installing concrete barriers on Monroe Center Street NW in downtown Grand Rapids for one of several “social zones” for outdoor dining.)

Businesses within the four social zones created by the city that are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Mark Miller at 616.719.4610 or mmiller@downtowngr.org.

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