Grand Rapids plans parking lots downtown


601 and 617 Ottawa Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids. Photo by Ehren Wynder

A parking project is being planned for downtown.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission will review a request, submitted by Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids/Mobile GR, to demolish the existing office building at 617 Ottawa Ave. NW and build a parking lot on the property and renovate the existing parking garage next door, at 601 Ottawa Ave. NW — making them both available for the public, as well as city and county employees.

The development would provide about 80 parking spaces.

The properties are owned by the city, and the existing lot is for the city.

This item will go before the planning commission for approval on March 8.

Per the request, the city will transfer ownership of the existing lot to the county, but it will continue to operate the lot. The county is proposing to resurface the existing asphalt lot, improve landscaping and stormwater retention and treatment, upgrade and add appropriate lighting, enhance circulation within the lot and pedestrian connectivity to and from the lot.

The whole parking project is intended to help maintain parking supply in North Monroe for both the city and the county and surrounding commercial and residential development in the neighborhood.

County employees would be transferred to the site from 520 Monroe Ave. NW, which they currently use for parking. Michigan State University intends to purchase the parcel to expand its own facilities.


The city is giving the county an option to purchase the property for the appraised value of $1,322,000, according to Steve Guitar, a spokesperson for the City of Grand Rapids. The county will be responsible for construction of the lot, which has a projected cost of $318,000. 

The city will have no cost, other than installation of new parking control equipment, which will be determined in a later agreement, Guitar said.

In terms of return on investment for the city, the construction of the parking lot and transfer of county employees from 520 Monroe Ave. NW is one of many steps necessary for the city to complete the process of obtaining a $7.5-million grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, according to Guitar. The grant will allow the city to acquire the necessary property for construction of the Grand River Whitewater Restoration Project.

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