As part of its transition into Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the Downtown Improvement District is likely to increase its board membership this fall.
At the same time, the longstanding Downtown Alliance, which has marketed the district and been the catalyst behind many of the sector’s events, will be phased out. And the only executive director the alliance has ever had revealed she is leaving the post at the end of the month.
The DID currently has nine individuals serving on its board of directors, but that number could rise to 16 sometime in September or October.
“This change would allow 10 to 16 members to be appointed to the board,” said Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong, who represents the city on the board.
“The adjustment in size is to welcome those who served on the Downtown Alliance board, which will fade (away),” said Kristopher Larson, Downtown Development Authority executive director and DGRI president.
“The majority of the board will be composed of representatives of businesses and property owners in the downtown district that pay assessments, nonprofits and governmental entities that voluntarily pay assessments, and residents living in the downtown district,” he added.
A public hearing on whether to expand the board will take place Aug. 27 in the commission’s chambers on the ninth floor of City Hall after 7 p.m. The issue is expected to come up for a city commission vote Sept. 10.
The DDA and the Downtown Alliance, also key parts of DGRI, have approved the expansion — as did the DID last week.
Sharon Evoy, who has served as the alliance’s executive director for a dozen years, announced she will leave the agency at the end of August. She came to the alliance after directing the former Neighborhood Business Specialist Program, which organized and marketed the city’s 20 neighborhood business districts and is now Neighborhood Ventures.
Evoy said leaving the alliance was like losing a best friend. She said the members of the alliance’s board are a “group of passionate, strategic and effective leaders” that love downtown and want to make it a better place.
“I love the energy of this place and the pride we have in it. I love the architecture and the public art and the cultural entities that offer experiences normally found in much bigger cities. I love Rosa Parks Circle and the Calder and the events that bring people downtown. … And I love the businesses and the people that invest here,” Evoy wrote in a public statement.
The DID was formed in 2000 as a business improvement district board under P.A. 120 of 1961. The board collected the tax assessment that funded the Downtown Alliance, maintained the district and managed downtown’s two snowmelt systems.
Larson said the DID will soon assume some of the alliance’s responsibilities, and the alliance may turn into another type of entity in the future as DRGI progresses.
Right now, the DID board is limited to nine members. Eight have to be business or property owners in the district, while one must be a city official. Board members are appointed by the mayor and then approved by city commissioners for three-year terms.