Riverfront RFPs Right Direction

August 7, 2006
Print
Text Size:
A A

One might think that a local broadcast company is attempting to call the shots for the city — or worse, that the committee assigned by the city of Grand Rapids to review proposals for riverfront development believes it has the last word on proposals for the project. The elected officials of the city commission are the only individuals responsible for "killing" or advancing the work.

Readers here are not likely to be so confused, but may be left to wonder the reason for the committee assignment to begin with, especially when considering the deliberate narrowness of its mission.

Mayor George Heartwell (and city commissioners) established the committee work to review "letters of intent" from developers across the country for the sale of 16 riverfront acres owned by the city. Such letters of intent allow developers to indicate approximations of project ideas, without divulging so much information as to give up their hand to the competition. Such letters do not include the detail of information the committee misguidedly expected and began to demand.

Heartwell has indicated he intended to give the community the opportunity to be included in what will be a momentous decision, rather than the oft-maligning perception of in-house staff calling the deal. Heartwell is satisfied that the committee accomplished its job, recommending further information be requested and keeping the door open to any new proposals.

In truth, the city has given the three developers the time necessary for the next step in the process while appearing to be "doing something" in answer to widespread community interest in the riverfront development story the Business Journal broke on Feb. 21.

In truth, the process is on track as the city (finally) issues Requests for Proposals.

Heartwell said the city weighed a more immediate RFP stage, but he feared it would not receive any responses so early in the process. Rick Chapla, The Right Place Inc. redevelopment specialist and committee member, was correct last week in suggesting after the final meeting that the city needs to be forthright with developers about its cost to move city Department of Public Works vehicles and equipment from the site, and provide estimates of the property pre-construction costs.

What has been incorrect is the committee assumption that it was providing anything other than an overview in the process, and succumbing to outside pressure to attempt some "decision."

The process is back on the agenda of elected officials as RFPs are anticipated. The stalling technique in answer to the pressures of community interest has allowed enough time for more detailed information to be provided.    

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus