DDA Adopts Next Years Budget

June 16, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the Downtown Development Authority adopted an $18.9 million budget last week for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts on July 1.

Giving $5 million to the DeVos Place construction project and turning over another $5.9 million for 13 capital projects, mostly street work within the board’s district, are the largest expenses the DDA will have during FY04. The board will also spend $4.9 million on debt service payments for Van Andel Arena and a few other building projects.

“This should anticipate all of our projects that we have for the next year,” said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler of the new budget.

The DDA receives funds from three sources: parking revenue from the lots it owns along with other fees and interest payments, a portion of the applicable school millages, and a share of the property tax payments made within the district.

Parking and other revenue should bring the DDA $216,828. The school tax should be worth $4.9 million to the board, while property tax revenue should reach $13.8 million for the fiscal year.

Roughly $840,000 of those funds will be spent to build the first half of the new DASH 9 parking lot on Seward Avenue between Bridge Street and Lake Michigan Drive. Walker Parking of Kalamazoo will direct the project, while Velting Contractors of Kentwood will build the 246-space lot, which should open by September. The DDA bought the land from Ed De Vries Properties of Grand Rapids.

Board members will build the second portion of the lot next year on adjacent property the DDA is buying from the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. That deal is expected to close in June 2004 and that lot will have 252 parking spaces. Construction should start next summer.

The city sold the Area 8 lot, part of the DASH West shuttle service, to the YMCA for its new building. The DASH 9 lot will have 498 spaces when it’s finished next year.

Business Advocate Susan Shannon told board members that the DDA should soon get $40,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to help pay for an analysis of how to implement an entertainment district downtown. The state money is a matching grant and the DDA allocated $40,000 for its share last week.

In April, the DDA allotted $32,500 to that effort as part of its application to an MEDC downtown blueprint program in which the state’s economic development agency offered grants of $32,500 that would go toward some consulting services from HyettPalma Inc. of Alexandria, Va.

The MEDC, however, passed on the city’s application. But then the agency offered the DDA an even larger grant worth $40,000 because downtown was already past the point that its program would take it to.

“They thought what we were doing was so interesting that they gave us more money,” said Verne Barry, DDA chairman.

Shannon added that the MEDC said the DDA could use any consultant board members want, so a search for one that specializes in developing entertainment districts would get underway soon.

“The state is giving us a great opportunity,” said Shannon. “We hope to be able to use this to recruit other businesses.”           

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