GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A plaza outside Van Andel Arena and a park on Grand Rapids Public Museum grounds are among the West Michigan projects getting funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act funneled through the state government.
On Wednesday, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved nearly $84 million in grants through its Revitalization and Placemaking Program.
The RAP program was created to distribute $100 million in ARPA funds to support projects that address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by generating tax revenue, retaining and growing cities, and attracting businesses, housing and talent to the community. Of the 22 grant agreements approved Wednesday, nine were broken down into subgrants, meaning the funding is going to a regional economic development organization or city to distribute to a group of projects.
The city of Grand Rapids is getting $9.37 million in subgrants for projects that will address the need for affordable housing. The Right Place, Inc. will get $3.61 million to support nine projects, including the following in Kent and Barry counties:
GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC MUSEUM PARK
A $800,000 subgrant for developing a park with seating on the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s north lawn.
LINEAR PARK NEAR VAN ANDEL ARENA
A $800,000 subgrant to transform the existing alleyway between the Van Andel Arena and Ionia Avenue in Grand Rapids into a linear plaza. The three-phase project will include a walkway, two temporary kiosks and a permanent kiosk, a patio with seating, ping pong tables and a ramp for accessibility.
SPARTA TOWN SQUARE EXPANSION
A $363,375 subgrant to support the second phase of the retail incubator and public events space known as Sparta Town Square.
MIDDLEVILLE AMPHITHEATER SEATING AND ART WALK
A $21,250 subgrant to add terraced seating to the Middleville Amphitheather and a sculpture garden and public art space in the surrounding Sesquicentennial Park, called the Art Walk.
Middleville Downtown Development Authority Director Katherine Bussard says they just raised $25,931 through the Patronicity crowdfunding platform to unlock an additional $25,000 from the MEDC’s Public Places Community Spaces Program.
CEDAR SPRINGS POCKET PARK
A $212,500 subgrant for a pocket park of North Main Street in downtown Cedar Springs.
EASTOWN PUBLIC ART AND SAFETY PROJECT
A $8,500 subgrant for fascade and street lighting in Grand Rapids’ Eastown.
Another $7.9 million in subgrants is going to Southwest Michigan First to support property redevelopment and placemaking projects. Muskegon will get $6 million in subgrants to support mixed-income housing and social gathering spaces downtown.
An MEDC committee trimmed down the pool of 185 RAP grant applications asking for more than $500 million to a total of 26 projects. MEDC CEO Quentin Messer Jr. said the organization will bring the remaining grant requests for “several incredible but complex projects” to the Board after finalizing project details.
“These revitalization and placemaking funds will enhance the quality of life for Michiganders by improving the communities they call home. We appreciate the partnership and collaboration with the state Legislature in approving these critical federal dollars to support projects in their districts that will help make all of Michigan a more attractive and enjoyable place to live, work, visit and play in closing projects,” Messer said.
The MEDC said the next step for each grant recipient is to enter into a letter of interest that will allow the MEDC to get all the necessary information to create a grant agreement. The funds would be dispersed as each project meets its agreed upon milestones.
All of the projects must use their grant money by Dec. 31, 2026.