Planners looking to ‘reimagine’ downtown


The city of Grand Rapids is hosting several community engagement opportunities this week in advance of reimagining downtown streets.

Those who walk, bike, drive, use transit and rideshare along Ottawa and Ionia avenues and Fulton Street are invited to attend one or more of the city’s three “Reimagine – Linking Downtown” open houses to provide ideas and priorities about the design and operations of the core downtown streets.

The open houses are part of a weeklong community design process expected to result in concept designs and recommendations for Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton. The concept designs and recommendations will be reported out to the community Dec. 12 in the ninth floor Commission Chambers at City Hall, 300 Monroe Ave. NW.

Through the discussion series, city staff expect to better understand how downtown residents, workers, property owners and visitors experience travel in and around the city core, as well as how everyone hopes to travel in the future along downtown’s core streets — Ottawa and Ionia avenues NW between Fulton and Michigan streets and Fulton between Monroe and Division avenues.

The opportunity to reimagine these streets stems from a resurfacing project on Ottawa between Michigan and Fulton scheduled for 2021.

Work on this near-term project will include removal and replacement of existing asphalt road surface, upgraded sidewalks and ramps at cross streets, some modified curb locations, upgrades to existing utilities if necessary, new street trees and other green infrastructure and improvements to capture stormwater and reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to the Grand River.

Several community plans, including GR Forward, Bicycle Action Plan and Michigan Street Corridor Plan, have specific recommendations for these core downtown streets.

“Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton are important transportation corridors for not only downtown but the entire city and greater Grand Rapids region,” said Kristin Bennett, transportation planning and programs supervisor for Mobile GR and Parking Services Department. “That’s why we hope to get participation in this design process from all who work, live and visit downtown.”

Planning and design consultants from Moore & Bruggink and Toole Design Group will help facilitate the community design process. Discussion topics may include:

  • One-way and/or two-way roadway operations on Ottawa and Ionia, per the GR Forward plan

  • Intersection needs and transit operations

  • Pedestrian and bicycle safety and access, including a separated bikeway on Ionia — recommended in GR Forward and the Bicycle Action Plan

  • Community event needs, especially near Calder Plaza and Van Andel Arena

  • Opportunities to beautify the corridors with elements like trees, flowers, benches, etc.

Partners on the project will use the outcomes of the design process to implement minor changes during the initial street resurfacing project on Ottawa, Bennett said, and later work out the feasibility of more advanced improvements.

Open house schedule

4:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 – Ryerson Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. NW

9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 10 – Ryerson Auditorium

5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 – Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., 29 Pearl St. NW

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