Sprucing Up Downtown Streets
Prepared by the Streetscape Steering Committee of the Downtown Alliance, the 197-page report illustrates design guidelines for public property and private buildings.
And it covers just about everything that is designable — from entryways to sidewalk cafes to signs and awnings to the best landscaping plants to boxing up newspaper boxes.
"It contains the small ways that the city can be made more beautiful," said Kayem Dunn, chairwoman of the Downtown Development Authority and the
"It should help property owners with specific advice," she added.
The DDA, Downtown Alliance, Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Frey Foundation funded the effort. Progressive AE, Pollack Design Associates and Creekside Landscaping LLC made up the design team that wrote and illustrated the report.
The report defines streetscape mainly as the space between a building and a curb, but also includes parks and plazas. Following its guidelines would guarantee a level of quality in the streetscape and result in a coherent look for downtown, according to the report. It also identifies key locations for art and plants, and includes the types of trees, shrubs, flowers and ornamental grasses that should be planted in the urban core.
"I think there is something very important about introducing beauty into the city," said Mayor George Heartwell, who offered high praise for the report.
Although the study focuses on making downtown more attractive and welcoming, it also touches on making the sector more accessible. That challenge came from a report made last September by Disabilities Advocates of Kent County.
Funded by a DDA grant, that study listed quite a few barriers that physically impaired residents regularly face downtown. The
The Downtown Alliance has made the report available on its Web site at downtowngr.org for anyone who is interested in reading it.
"The future health of
Kayem Dunn, DDA chairwoman, committee chair
Shaun Biel, De Vries Properties
Ed De Vries, De Vries Properties
Rick DeVries, assistant city engineer
Jay Fowler, DDA executive director
Kurt Hassberger, Rockford Co., Downtown Alliance chairman
Bob Herr, Crowe Chizek
Dennis Sturtevant, Dwelling Place Inc.