DDA’s $8.6M budget fuels GR Forward


The Grand Rapids City Commission will consider an $8.6 million 2017 budget recommendation from the Downtown Development Authority June 7.

Earlier this month, the DDA board approved the budget, which largely focuses on the implementation of GR Forward. The city commission adopted GR Forward as an amendment to the City Master Plan in December as a guide to the development and transformation of the Grand River and downtown.

The DDA is budgeted to receive $7 million in revenues from non-tax-related activities, such as parking lots and interest. The revenue is greatly boosted by potential sales of properties totaling $6.55 million. The DDA is estimated to also receive $6.4 million in tax revenues.

Priority areas of the budget include $3.2 million in public realm and infrastructure improvements; $1.7 million for downtown beautification, safety and mobility; $1.1 million in administration, police services and city costs; $1.1 million in real estate incentives; $750,000 in special events, workforce support initiatives and community engagement; and $669,000 in debt services.

Of the $5.7 million in discretionary investments, Grand Rapids citizens helped identify 98 percent of priorities through a “participatory budget process.” Included in the budget are 103 capital projects, programs and events, 92 of which are recommended in the GR Forward plan.

“This proposed budget matches the DDA’s dollars with the community’s vision for downtown,” said Kristopher Larson, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., which oversees the DDA.

Specific areas of spending include:

  • Designs to rebuild Lyon Square at the river’s edge
  • Assessing the feasibility of a bike share system
  • Planting 200 trees
  • Shifting the downtown shuttle system
  • Expand programs for a more diverse audience
  • Calder Plaza conceptual design
  • Rebuilding Veterans Park
  • Cherry, Pearl and Bridge street U.S. 131 overpass lighting
  • Public art projects
  • Downtown residents network

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