Panel is forming downtown plan


Downtown Grand Rapids is emerging as a regional destination for residents and tourists alike, and it is time for the city to adopt a new downtown plan to provide a clear vision for further development as the city continues to grow and evolve, according to Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Last week the Downtown Development Authority approved a 32-member Downtown Plan Steering Committee that will work with Interface Studios, a planning and design practice based in Philadelphia, which was previously selected by a 12-member selection committee to develop the Downtown Plan. 

Interface Studios will work closely with DGRI and the Steering Committee to ensure the plan is representative of the community vision for downtown.

The committee members represent a variety of interests and partner organizations, and represent views from a diverse group of races, genders and ages.

DGRI said the committee would play an integral role in shaping the process for the plan and will advise on public participation strategies, ensure comprehensive stakeholder engagement, and participate in developing recommendations that will contribute to the project’s deliverables. 

It is expected the committee will meet at least once per month throughout the development of the plan, which is expected to take up to a year and a half to develop.

The new plan will identify and prioritize short-, middle- and long-term public investment for the next 10 years. These investments will become DGRI’s work plan by helping inform budget priorities, and should help to effect further transformational investments.

More than 20 years have passed since the city adopted Voices & Visions, its most recent downtown plan, which has shepherded more than $2 billion in downtown investment. 

Among the projects that have been completed or are near completion are the Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, the JW Marriott Hotel, the Medical Mile, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Michigan’s first Bus Rapid Transit system, and the Downtown Market.

DGRI’s executive director Kris Larson said Voices & Visions is considered fully implemented.

Downtown Plan Steering Committee members

Jamon Alexander: YMCA

Mary Angelo: Planning Commission, downtown resident

James Berg: Essence Restaurant Group

Mark Breon: Spectrum Health

Nadia Brigham: Kellogg Foundation

Jessica Cruz: Ferris State Center for Latino Studies

Sam Cummings: CWD Real Estate

Jocelyn Detloff: Mary Free Bed, Dyer Ives Foundation 

Steve Faber: Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, DGRI Alliance for Livability

Dr. Wendy Falb: DDA board, GRPS school board, DGRI Alliance for Livability

Howard Hansen: Monroe North TIFA board chair

John Helmholdt: GRPS, DGRI Alliance for Livability

Derrick Hollowell: Heartside resident

Mark Holzbach: Downtown resident

Ruth Kelly: City commissioner, downtown resident

Ray Kisor: Colliers International, DGRI board of advisors

Kim McLaughlin: GR Area Chamber of Commerce

Greg McNeily: Windquest Group

Nick Monoyios: The Rapid, DGRI Alliance for Investment chair

Chris Muller: Grand Rapids Whitewater, DGRI Alliance for Livability

Tyler Nickerson: Dyer Ives Foundation, DGRI Alliance for Livability, downtown resident

Jon Nunn: Grand Action, DGRI board of advisors

Evette Pittman: DGRI Alliance for Vibrancy, Grand Rapids Symphony

Mark Rambo: GVSU, Grand Rapids Parking Commission

Steve Redmond: Michigan Department of Transportation

Tom Rosenbach: BeeneGarter

David Rosen: Kendall College of Art & Design president, DGRI Alliance for Vibrancy chair

Darel Ross: LINC Community Revitalization Inc.

Carlos Sanchez: GRCC, DID board

Chris Smith: Network180

Lynee Wells: Williams and Works, DGRI Alliance for Livability chair

Rick Winn: Amway Hotel Group, DDA board, DGRI Alliance for Investment

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