Street Talk: Task force eyes projects


Community leaders are taking the next step toward determining whether to build a new convention hotel and/or an amphitheater.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority launched a Proof of Concept Task Force to help staff gather more information on the two projects. The CAA board will consider this information in its vote to further pursue the projects.

The 26-story, 400-room hotel could cost upward of $140 million and would be expected to contain a restaurant, lounge, coffee shop, 40,000 square feet of meeting space — including a 20,000-square-foot grand ballroom — pool, whirlpool, exercise room, business center, gift shop, guest laundry room and back-of-the-house space.

The hotel likely would be located along Monroe Avenue NW between DeVos Performance Hall and the Windquest Building, at 201 Monroe Ave. NW, which is anchored by Reserve Wine & Food.

The amphitheater likely would contain 10,000 to 15,000 seats and cost about $40 million. It would potentially be constructed in Millennium Park, located at 1415 Maynard Ave. SW in Walker.

For each of the projects, the task force will answer questions around such topics as whether a public or private entity should undertake the projects; the desirability and feasibility of a public-private partnership; costs and timetables; funding sources and more.

The goal is for the task force to provide a report and make a recommendation to the board before the end of 2019.

Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids, will chair the committee. CAA board members on the task force include Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place; and Floyd Wilson, executive vice president of Metro Health. Other committee members include Jill Ferris of the CAA finance committee and Spectrum Health; Mark Washington, Grand Rapids city manager; Roger Morgan, a Kent County commissioner and member of the county’s finance and physical resources committee; and Tim Kelly of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.


The Kentwood City Commission recently established an advisory committee that will review and prioritize improvements to the city’s parks, trails and recreational programming to align with the needs of the community.

The Parks, Trails and Recreation Advisory Committee will review improvements identified in the Parks and Recreation Business Plan, Parks Master Plan and Non-Motorized Trail Plan and recommend an implementation and sustainable funding plan to the city commission by December 2019.

“To reach and sustain a rewarding quality of life, all aspects of a community — including businesses, schools and neighborhoods — need to achieve a level of exceptional value and significance,” said Mayor Stephen Kepley. “The ongoing ownership, maintenance and development of our public parks, trails and recreational programming is part of this equation and is important to nurture in order to create and maintain a thriving community benefiting all.”

The advisory committee will be a broad collaboration between the Parks and Recreation Commission, the city commission’s ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee, the planning commission, residents and business owners to ensure the diverse needs of the Kentwood community are represented in the process, he said.

“After celebrating the city’s 50th anniversary, we are heavily focused on planning for the next 50 years,” said Val Romeo, parks and recreation director. “We want to ensure we continue to provide high-quality services that meet the needs of our diverse community.”

Individuals interested in joining the committee may apply online at

Small summit

For the first time ever, three organizations will partner to offer resources to businesses throughout West Michigan.

Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) will collaborate to offer a regional Small Business Summit in Grand Rapids from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. April 29, at the Seidman College of Business, 50 Front Ave. SW.

Throughout the day, the summit will offer interactive workshops, mentoring and networking for both new and existing businesses, as well as entrepreneurs.

“As the primary resource partners of the SBA, our three organizations have been working on this signature event for over a year,” said Ed Garner, West Michigan regional director for the SBDC. “We wanted to offer the business community something that they had never seen before and demonstrate how we all work together to help businesses succeed. We hope to make the summit an annual event.”

Business experts will talk about a variety of topics on the roadmap to launching and preserving a successful business, including Beginning Your Journey; Your Growth Trajectory; Marketing Magic; and Financial Matters. There also will be an opportunity for attendees to receive business consulting.

Anne Cork, owner of Annabelle Noel Designs, will be the keynote speaker during lunch.

Participants also will have the opportunity to pitch their business idea with the potential of winning $1,000 initially and up to $20,000 later.

The summit is being sponsored by the Community Reinvestment Act Association, Fifth Third Bank and West Michigan Community Bank, all of which will have representatives on hand to discuss financing needs for businesses.

Sweet 169th

A popular West Michigan creamery will dole out free ice cream May 2 in honor of Grand Rapids’ birthday.

The city of Grand Rapids is officially 169 years old, and Hudsonville Ice Cream is celebrating by hosting a birthday bash in Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids from 4-7 p.m. May 2, according to Kyle Cronin, a spokesperson for Hudsonville Ice Cream.

“Ice cream is a staple of any birthday celebration, and we’re proud to share that with the Grand Rapids community in celebration of the city’s birthday,” said CJ Ellens, director of sales and marketing for Hudsonville Ice Cream.

“As a company born and bred in West Michigan, the Grand Rapids community holds a special place in our hearts. We invite all ice cream lovers to join us for this sweet birthday celebration and enjoy a pint of ice cream on us.”

The party will include free pints of ice cream, games, raffles, a DJ and other activities.

Mike Aguilar, from Mojo in the Morning radio show on 104.5 WSNX-FM in Grand Rapids, will serve as the official event emcee, serving ice cream and mingling with guests.

Grand Rapids, founded on April 2, 1850, and officially established by the city charter in May of that year, is the second-largest city in the state and serves as “a hub” for the arts, music, beer and more. The city is regularly listed among the best places in the U.S. to live, work and play.

“We’re so excited to celebrate our city’s birthday with the community and a longtime family-owned business in West Michigan,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “This is a great opportunity for us to pause to honor where we have been as a city and where we’re going.”

Hudsonville Ice Cream was founded more than 90 years ago. It currently offers more than 50 flavors and continues to use the same base recipe from more than 90 years ago.

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