New DDA Policy Cuts Red Tape

GRAND RAPIDS — A bit of red tape for developers got cut earlier this month when the Downtown Development Authority gave its executive director a bit more authority.

It will now be up to Jay Fowler, instead of the full board, to decide whether the DDA should pay for the preliminary work on a public improvement project in the district.

Prior to the change, a majority of the nine-member board had to approve such work — which could be redundant for board members and time consuming for developers who had to wait for their proposals to get on the DDA’s monthly agenda.

“It makes good sense and it’s reasonable,” said Mayor George Heartwell, also a board member.

The project-related items that the DDA has paid at least a portion of in the past include soil borings, preliminary designs, community meetings, preparing grant applications, final designs and surveys.

A project has to be included in the board’s annual budget. If it is, then Fowler can OK up to $5,000 or 10 percent of the project’s budgeted expense — whichever is greater —for preliminary work without involving the board.

“The only risk to the DDA is to do some preliminary design work and (then) the project doesn’t get done,” said Fowler. “It’s really a policy to get projects going.”    

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