Heartside Parking Study Bids In

February 25, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — The second major parking study in just the past year might be getting underway later this year if funding can be found for it.

Following on the heels of the Michigan Street Business District parking study, the most extensive and expensive in the city’s history so far, is a similar project being put together for the Heartside Business District.

The requests for proposals are in, and the costs for the Heartside study range from a low of $80,000 to a high of nearly $190,000 — almost $40,000 more than the price tag for the Michigan Street study.

Bids for the Heartside analysis came in from FTCH/Carl Walker, Walker Parking Consultants/URS, and CEG/Chance Management Advisors of Cincinnati.

CEG/Chance offered the lowest bid of $80,000, but it was determined that the firm’s proposal didn’t address all the study’s needs. FTCH/Carl Walker had the highest bid, one that approached $190,000. And Walker Parking/URS submitted a bid of $140,000.

Acting Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said everyone involved with the Heartside study would be meeting with officials from FTCH/Carl Walker and Walker Parking/URS in the near future.

But she added that a primary obstacle to getting the study going could be coming up with the money to pay for it. In contrast to Michigan Street, which has a few large businesses and organizations that can pitch in for the work, Heartside is made up of small businesses and retail shops that don’t have a revenue stream large enough to foot the bill for a study.

Ritsema said another factor that separates Heartside from Michigan Street is Heartside isn’t having the parking pains that Michigan Street is, meaning a study for Heartside isn’t as urgent as it is for Michigan Street and has a different goal.

“There, there isn’t a lot of current parking pressure,” she said of Heartside. “But we’re trying to plan in advance of parking problems, and plan on how to best use parking and transit solutions for the economic development of that area.”

The proposed study area for Heartside is larger than the one being analyzed for Michigan Street. The Heartside area extends south from Fulton to Wealthy and west from Lafayette to the Grand River.

“One thing that has been proposed, without a consensus yet, is if funding is too difficult to find — and we haven’t made that decision, yet — another option is to reduce the scope of the study,” said Ritsema.

As for the Michigan Street Business District study, all the data has been collected from the surveys and focus groups, and is being analyzed by Walker Parking. Because it took a bit longer to get the surveys back from stakeholders, the work is a few weeks behind its original timetable.

“I expect a revised schedule to come out shortly,” said Ritsema. “They are in the Task Two data analysis stage.”

It’s hoped that the analysis will be ready by the next Parking Commission meeting.

The study covers the hill area of the Michigan Street Business Association, a sector that roughly runs south from Michigan to Fountain and east from Bostwick to College. Spectrum Health, the Van Andel Institute, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College, the Interurban Transit Partnership and the city will each pay up to $25,633 for the study. Parking Services is picking up the city’s portion of the tab that could reach $153,800.

The Michigan Street Business Association was the catalyst for the study and gave $500 to the work. The group made the city aware of the parking and traffic situations in the district last year, problems the association said surfaced from all the new development the district has experienced over the past few years.           

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