Talk of downtown GR library parking structure ramp up again

Grand Rapids

The Ryerson Library in downtown Grand Rapids. (Jan. 11, 2022)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On a cold Tuesday morning, there’s plenty of parking to be had in the lot behind the Ryerson Library in downtown Grand Rapids.

But regulars, like Caroline Andre and her daughter Stella, know that’s not always the case.

“On the days where it’s really busy, it’s nice to have a parking space that’s nice and close, especially with her,” Andre said, while holding her toddler.

The city of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Public Library are once again floating the idea of a ramp at the northeast corner of the parking lot — reviving a discussion that began back in 2016 — not only to provide more parking for the library, but also to alleviate a parking shortage downtown.

A 2016 map shows the location of the site. (courtesy Grand Rapids)

“Like a lot of good things, a lot of projects were happening at that same time, and we kind of put it on the back burner, just because there were a lot of other priority projects we were needing to undertake,” said Josh Naramore, the managing director of Mobile GR.

Mobile GR is the agency in charge of, among other things, parking services in the city.

A survey has been launched to ask library patrons and others what they think of the idea.

“It’s not only to see what they’d like to see, but also get feedback to make sure that there are things that we’re not considering, that they don’t want to see there,” said Naramore.

Among the questions: What new development would you like to see on the site?

Air space above a parking structure could be sold to a private developer for any number of uses, including more affordable housing, a top priority at city hall.

“It’s tough, I mean people are having a really hard time finding apartments,” said Andre. “Even for people who have money to burn … it’s hard for them. And so imagine not having money to burn, it’s always nice to have more places to live in the city.”

“That’s why we’re trying to get as much feedback from all of the players,” said Naramore. “To see, if we build parking, does that help and what should we be building as part of that, and what kinds of development partner would help us do that.”

Survey results should be in by the spring.

There’s currently no timetable or costs estimates for building a parking structure.

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