GRAND RAPIDS — The Heartside Business Association recently gave the Parking Commission a check for $500 and a draft of a request-for-proposal for a parking study.
The study is a key piece for the association, as the group tries to create a master plan for the business sector.
Figuring out how to pay for the study, however, could be a problem.
Business association president Dennis Sturtevant told commissioners that the need for parking has grown in the district because of recent building projects. Mary Ann Ellison of the Neighborhood Business Specialist Program said more than $90 million worth of projects have been done in Heartside over the past few years.
But Sturtevant added that a lack of parking, especially along Division Avenue, the district’s main street, has brought further development to a halt.
Sturtevant pointed out that the RFP was broad and the result of a meeting held last May with business owners and residents. He also noted that the city’s shuttle service, the DASH system, doesn’t serve the district, and he was concerned about what the city was going to do with the City Centre ramp at Division and Fulton. The city has targeted the 45-year-old, 536-space ramp to be razed in the near future.
“We think it will create more pressure for parking,” said Sturtevant.
The proposed study area is large, comparable to the size of the sector being studied in the Michigan Street business district. The area proposed for the Heartside study runs east from the Grand River to just past Lafayette Avenue, and south from Fulton Street to slightly past Wealthy Street.
The study in the hill district of Michigan Street is expected to cost just under $154,000, making it the most expensive parking survey in city history. But there, large institutions such as Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College are picking up equal shares of the study’s price tag. The Interurban Transit Partnership, the area’s public transporter, and the city also are chipping in.
Unlike the Michigan Street Business Association, however, Heartside doesn’t have a handful of major institutions to help defray the cost. Also, ITP reported that it doesn’t have any funds to contribute to the work, but said it would look for a funding source. And it’s uncertain whether the city could foot the entire tab with the deficit it is facing this fiscal year.
The Heartside Business Association made its request under a city policy that allows such groups to pay $500 for the work, a fee that amounts to 10 percent of most neighborhood parking studies. But the Heartside study is likely to cost much more than the usual $5,000.
“We have to address this issue,” said Parking Commissioner Jack Hoffman. “At $25,000 a spot for parking, I think this is a prudent thing to do.”
Parking commissioners will review the Heartside RFP and comment on it at their next meeting.