Proposed path would connect Belknap to downtown GR

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new way to get downtown is in the works. The first phases of a plan to connect the Belknap neighborhood to the Grand River were approved Wednesday.

It’s a big project that hopes to bring more people downtown. 

Currently, there is a disconnect between downtown Grand Rapids and Belknap Lookout. These paths would create a way to walk or ride to and from downtown. 

“As someone who doesn’t have a car, it’s nice to have easier, more convenient ways to walk,” said Katie McKee, who walks her dog at Lookout Park. “Nice view. I like seeing the downtown area that atmosphere is really fun to be around.”

A photo of the Belknap Stairs. (Courtesy Downtown Grand Rapids Inc)

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc is working to get more people into downtown. The parks and these stairs are popular spots in the Belknap area but if you have ever climbed them, you know they are for fitness enthusiast only and they end at Monroe Avenue, a major roadway.

The new plans include a path in a zigzag pattern to allow bikes and strollers. It continues the path over Monroe Avenue with a walkway all the way down to the Grand River.

“We want to have a highly accessible downtown,” said Mark Miller, the managing director of planning and design for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. 

Miller is overseeing the project which started with studies back in 2006. Now, the SmithGroup out of Ann Arbor is leading the design, figuring out how to make this vision a reality.

“You open up a whole realm of different possibilities for various residents, who can more adequately or easily connect to that resource,” said Miller.

The exact path to get to the Grand River is still being worked out. The final plans will be decided with input from the public.

“I would love to see new things like that, pathways to connected to make it more convenient to get downtown and hang out,” said McKee. 

This project will take some time, but if all goes well work will begin in a couple of years. There are nine projects within the plan which will take around five years to complete. 

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