Projects Pushing For More Parking

March 14, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the Downtown Development Authority agreed last week to spend $20,000 on a technical study for two northwest side parcels the board will buy from De Vries Properties and Catholic Secondary Schools.

The work will include a topographical survey and geotechnical study on sites along Lake Michigan Drive and Seward NW. If everything checks out, the DDA will begin building a parking lot on the Seward parcel this summer and expand the DASH West lot by a yet-to-be-determined number of spaces. Construction should be finished in the fall.

Even though those parking spaces haven’t been designed, paved, striped or priced yet, the stalls are sold.

“We have people already asking for those spaces. We’ve had two requests for 330 spaces,” said Pam Ritsema, acting Parking Services director.

Three downtown developments are driving the demand for parking. The GVSU health professions building going up on Michigan Street, the new ITP transportation center south of Van Andel Arena, and the early opening of DeVos Place are the trio.

Parking Services plans to shuttle students from DASH West to the GVSU site, and the department will lose about 300 spaces in its DASH South parking lot because of the ITP center. DeVos Place will open in December, five weeks earlier than planned and before its underground parking ramp is finished.

“We’re going to need the lot for the opening of the convention center,” said DDA board member and mayor John Logie, who also chairs the Convention and Arena Authority.

The DDA is expected to close with De Vries Properties on the Seward parcel, which is just north of and adjacent to the Catholic Secondary Schools site, in May. The board plans to do the same on the parking lot owned by the parochial school system in June 2004.

Board members also agreed to spend $12,000 on alarms for the snowmelt system along Monroe Center. An underground vault that houses the system has flooded twice over the past two winters, burning out an electrical motor that powers a sump pump. The alarms will let the city know if a flooding problem might be developing.

“I think this is good protection for this system. There is some money in this that will help save energy and make the system more efficient,” said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler.

“This dollar amount would provide alarms for two pumps — one that has broken down and one that hasn’t,” added city engineer Bill Cole.

The DDA also approved an application for a Class C downtown liquor license from owners of The Gojo Restaurant at 85 Monroe Center. The request from Benyam Adafre and Tena Kebede now goes to the City Commission. If commissioners ratify the application, the request will be sent to the Liquor Control Commission in Lansing for final approval.

Over the last six years, the city has approved at least five of these inexpensive downtown licenses. But none have yet to be ratified by the LCC.           

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