Downtown Alliance Seeks Contract For District Services

June 5, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Downtown Alliance, the entity responsible for implementing services funded by the Downtown Improvement District (DID), is now seeking a contractor to provide maintenance and beautification services for the DID special assessment district.

The City Commission approved the DID special assessment in April, and the DID Board created the Downtown Alliance to carry out the activities of the district, which are focused on providing a higher level of maintenance and beautification beyond what the city currently provides.

The district is generally bounded by I-196 on the north, Cherry Street on the south, Division Avenue on the east, and the Grand River on the west. It includes two gateway streets: Fulton Street east to Jefferson, and Division Avenue south to Wealthy.

The 24-member Downtown Alliance Governing Board oversees DID services. The Alliance program is housed and staffed by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, which also provides the board and its committees with administrative support.

The Alliance sent out a request for proposals on June 8 to more than 200 companies, and 20 firms expressed interest in the contract, noted Sharon Evoy, executive director of the Downtown Alliance and executive director of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Business Specialists.

“We think that’s a pretty good response because what we’re asking for is so different from what a lot of these companies probably do,” she added. Proposals must be submitted to the Alliance no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, June 21. Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can contact Evoy at (616) 771-0346.

The Alliance’s Maintenance and Beautification Committee will begin conducting interviews with prospective contractors the week of June 25. The entire Downtown Alliance governing board will vote on which bid is to be selected, Evoy said. Members of the DID Board will not participate in the bid selection process.

The hope is that district-wide service can begin in early August, she said.

The annual budget for maintenance and beautification is more than $300,000, based on a 12-month contract. The service agreement will be for a year, with an option to extend the contract.

The maintenance and beautification crew will be responsible for undertaking a wide range of services daily, among them sidewalk and gutter cleaning, litter pick-up, trash and graffiti removal, crosswalk snow removal, care of street furniture, landscape maintenance, and care of trees and seasonal flower plantings.

The crew also will be responsible for maintaining banners and seasonal decorations and for assisting in set-up and “break-down” at events staged in the district.

Although the crew’s main function will be district-wide maintenance and beautification, crew members also will be expected to serve as downtown “ambassadors.” All crew members will be required to wear a uniform displaying the Downtown Alliance logo and a name tag.

“They will look professional and credible and will be one of the first people that anyone downtown can turn to when they have questions,” said Dennis Sturtevant, board chairman and executive director of Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids. “We want to make sure that the staff is trained to be approachable, positive and knowledgeable about the downtown.”

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