Money Needed For Michigan Street Parking Study

March 26, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The city’s Parking Services Department will soon be looking for someone to conduct a parking and transportation study in the hill area of the Michigan Street Business District, which is seeing significant growth from two colleges, a research institute and the region’s largest health-care provider.

At the same time, the city will help Heartside prepare for a similar review.

The Michigan Street study will examine the supply and demand for parking in the area adjacent to the central business district and look at all available alternatives to parking. The study’s cost could be as high as $150,000, and the city wants the institutions located there to help pay for it.

Much of the area’s growth has come from and continues to come from building projects being done by Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and the Van Andel Institute for Research and Education. The city is expecting each to pitch in for the study, possibly up to $20,000 apiece. With less tax revenue coming to city coffers this year, city officials feel they can’t shoulder the study’s entire cost.

The Michigan Street Business Association asked for the study. The group’s members are concerned about drive-time traffic congestion and fewer parking spaces for employees and customers because of the building projects. The request for proposals should go out soon.

The Heartside Business Association and the Heartside Main Street Advisory Council also spoke with parking commissioners about analyzing the downtown neighborhood’s parking and transit needs. Heartside, which has Division Avenue from Fulton to Wealthy Street as its main commercial corridor, has seen more development and needs parking to support it.

But with the City Centre ramp at Fulton and Division likely to be razed possibly as early as next year, businesses are wondering where the parking will come from and what form it will take.

Dennis Sturtevant, representing the business association, told commissioners that razing buildings for surface parking lots isn’t the answer as the lots hinder development.

“We need a broad-based look at this whole problem south of Fulton Street,” he said.

Parking Services Director Ted Perez said the Heartside groups need to further clarify and define the district’s problem and needs. He suggested they first get the Interurban Transit Partnership, the region’s public transportation provider, and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission involved and then meet with his department.

Perez recommended that the HPC be a part of the discussions because a third to a half of Heartside sits in an historic district, which has a different set of codes than the rest of the neighborhood.

“I think we should do whatever we can,” said Perez, “to help these folks.” 

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