As Business Reinvents So Too Will City

July 25, 2005
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Cities, counties and the state all are becoming creative, a condition brought (as is usually the case) by dwindling revenue. The story on page 3 regarding user fees is but one example. It is a condition familiar to the business community.

The success of a business entity using “continuous improvement” and “reinventing” itself as the method for survival are common on these pages, and so it is again this week. The Focus section, beginning on page B1, offers additional examples.

The drive in the life sciences business sector has a domino effect throughout Michigan Street neighborhoods, where more than $1 billion in health-care investment is obvious. In less than 10 years “the Hill” has changed as dramatically as Heartside, which continues to expand and evolve. The city Parking Commission reports that at today’s rate of absorption, all monthly parking spaces in the city-owned downtown system will be full by late next year, “and at the current rate of development, the Downtown Area Shuttle System (DASH) may find itself running longer routes.” Parking Services has completed a plan to handle that growth, not just along Michigan, but also in the ever-growing Heartside area where Cherry Street Landing developments are pulling increasing traffic.

Experts in the industrial real estate market are not spending idle hours whining about a flat market, but finding new ways to provide mixed use of large, industrial-zoned buildings. In some instances government has worked with businesses to recognize new land-use demands, rezoning to accommodate the growing need for more retail and residential. Grand Rapids Real Estate Chairman Brian Silvernail notes that the future of industrial land is in adapting and changing to accommodate a growing need for retail space. We also note that such adaptations, especially those preferred by retailers for freeway visibility, make for a far more picturesque drive time.

Robert Grooters staged a one-day sale to “create some excitement” for industrial property. The developer invited representatives of The Right Place Inc., the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the city’s economic development team. Lenders from Macatawa and Republic banks offered financing advice. The crew was “selling” Grand Rapids.

The House GOP “Get Michigan Working Plan” unveiled last week works as a glove for these initiatives, most specifically that which would provide a 25 percent property tax credit for manufacturers and 10 percent for commercial businesses.

Consider the fact that the city has already calculated $10 billion in new development downtown within the next 10 years: Business is reinventing Grand Rapids.    

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