Why Rosa Parks Circle won’t reopen in time for ArtPrize

Grand Rapids

An Aug. 11, 2021 photo shows The Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle, which has been under renovation for months. The public spaces is expected to open in October or November 2021.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The heart of downtown Grand Rapids won’t be reopening in September as previously hoped.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. President and CEO Tim Kelly said Wednesday the Rosa Parks Circle renovation project has hit delays.

In a Downtown Development Authority meeting, Kelly told Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss the snag involves granite coming from California, which is taking much longer than expected to arrive. Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department Director David Marquardt confirmed the shipping delay and its impact.

The granite will replace the crumbling concrete steps that double as seats in The Ecliptic — the amphitheater created by artist Maya Lin that shapes Rosa Parks Circle.

(A photo Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. posted on Facebook in July 2021 shows the progress in renovating The Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.)

The project also includes renovating and recladding the bathrooms to match the panels at the nearby Grand Rapids Art Museum, replacing pole lights with LEDs, installing a new bus shelter and adding new signs, benches and trees. The white birch trees will remain.

Kelly said the project is now slated to be complete in October or November.

Because of the delays, Kelly said Rosa Parks Circle, which has been a popular spot for ArtPrize in years past, will not be open to the public during this year’s competition.

Project 1 by ArtPrize opening day
(An event at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids marks the opening of Project 1 by ArtPrize on Sept. 7, 2019. Photo by: Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

The total cost of the upgrades is estimated at just under $3 million. About $700,000 will come from the City of Grand Rapids’ dedicated parks millage. Another $550,000 will come from the Downtown Development Authority. The remainder will come from philanthropic and private donations through The Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle Conservancy.

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