DDA Sees Green As An Investment

April 2, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — A greener downtown is likely to mean more green for downtown.

“We feel this is the final piece to bring people downtown,” said Ed De Vries. “This is a necessary component for downtown residential.”

De Vries, a developer and owner of Ed De Vries Properties, and Downtown Alliance Executive Director Sharon Evoy recently told the Downtown Development Authority that a beautification project for the district would boost its economic vitality.

Besides helping to fill the apartments and condos being built downtown, more plants and flowers would help to draw visitors there, and then these visitors would become consumers by spending money with downtown businesses.

De Vries cited a report that showed after downtown Chicago completed its beautification program more suburbanites visited and each spent an average of $80 on every trip.

Evoy told the DDA that the alliance was interested in developing the entire district and not just the blocks near Monroe Center. She said her goal is to get developers and property owners involved with the project so it could be coordinated throughout the district, which now extends beyond the DDA boundary.

Evoy even spoke of beautifying the east side of Monroe Avenue from Michigan to Lyon streets, the lengthy block across from DeVos Place and a block that visitors first see when they leave the new convention center. Right now, that sightline has a lot of grey concrete.

“What they’re facing could be made beautiful,” she said.

Evoy added that the alliance would maintain the plants and flowers and that the watering and irrigation systems were already in place. De Vries said a master gardener was assisting them on the project.

“This is going to look spectacular,” said Evoy.

Members of the DDA thought so, too, as they agreed to fund the beautification project with $80,037.

“People want and need beauty to spark the divine within us,” said Mayor George Heartwell, a DDA member. “It will create an additional draw for our downtown.”           

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